They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but neither can do justice to the new Bridge City Elementary School. The state of the art facility is teaming with new technology and fun art designed by Creative Arts. “They also design for Disney,” said Kelly McBride, principal of the elementary.

She’s excited about showing off the new school to parents and students. Meet the Teacher is scheduled at 9 a.m., Wednesday (today) for first and second grades and Thursday for Pre-K and kindergarten, also at 9 a.m.

“The students can come in and find out who their teacher is going to be and bring in their supplies if they want to,” said Pre-K teacher Jennifer Weeren.

Thursday a ribbon cutting is scheduled at 5 p.m. with an open house until 7 p.m. to introduce the new facility to the public.

“Representative Hamilton will be here presenting us with a flag and Congressman Brady’s aid is dropping off a U.S. flag for us that morning so we can do our flag raising ceremony that night.

McBride gave The Record a private tour Monday. “Each hallway has its own little theme.” Pre-K is pedal cars. Kindergarten has a water theme with boats and things. First grade is the roadway with cars and trucks. Second grade covers the air.

At the back of the cafeteria, booths are built in the in the shape of a vehicle such as a car or boat; one for each grade in their hall’s theme. “We’ll use that for a reward system,” said McBride. “The teachers are going to pick two students per week to sit back here; but you know how us teachers are. We’ll make sure everyone gets a chance [to eat at the booths].”

There is a large stage in the cafeteria with a media system that includes a projector that comes down from the ceiling and a large screen. There is a similar set-up in the library.

Aides have stocked shelves in the library with 9,000 new books. It also sports a puppet stage and a train. The cars of the train are seating for the students.

Artwork in the gymnasium features athletes, the Strutters and cheerleaders as Cardinals. Seating in the gym is retractable.

Fine Arts is a multipurpose room covering art, music and theater arts.

The playground also features a transportation theme with a train and bus among others. The ground is covered with rubberized material for safety. Covered benches are provided as shade for teachers and staff as they chaperone the students on the playground.

Two computer labs are among the amenities at the new facility.

Weeren’s favorite thing about the new school is all the technology. Each room has a smart board, an interactive white board that is used in conjunction with a computer and a large video display. The surface of the board becomes tough sensitive and allows the user to control the computer.

The smart board technology allows the user to save the information drawn as an image. They will be able share this information digitally, save and re-use it without having a hard copy.

All of the classrooms will also have sound system from Front Row Pro Digital. Speakers are installed in the ceiling.

“If we watch a movie, all the sound for the classroom goes through this speaker system.”
Teachers also have microphones that fit around their necks, projecting their voices to the back of the room.

Aaron Riojas plans on using her smart board to take roll each day in her Pre-K class. “What I’m going to do is put a little coconut for each kid’s name; and it moves. They would find the cocoanut with their name and drag it over to the tree. The ones left at the bottom, are not here. They check themselves in,” she said. “It’s a way for them to recognize their name” She says she may also add their photo to the cocoanuts for the first part of the year.

“I’m excited about it. I want to use it as much as I can. I have all of our morning routine on it so far.” Riojas said they will be using it for the calender and weather among other things.
The Life Skills classroom for special needs students is expansive compared to what they had at the Intermediate School.

“Wow, it’s such a change from what we’re used to, being in a small classroom. It’ll be nice. The kids will actually have space,” said teacher Theresa Leonard. Leonard is starting her third year at Bridge City.

“It’ll meet their needs better than the small little room that we were in. I had no idea it was going to be this big. They let us do occasional tours during the school year… I kinda got a glimpse of things, but I didn’t picture it to be like this.”

The students have different stations for education, cooking, a library and listening center, sensory center and art.

Some of the life skills taught at this age is how to use a microwave and toaster oven, the simpler of the kitchen utensils. They learn how to wash dishes, wipe counters and other tasks.
Smart boards aren’t new to the Life Skills class. “Our kids are the only ones that have actually been able to work on one out of this whole campus,” said Jennifer Mann, a paraprofessional for Life Skills.

“They were at the intermediate [school] who already have them. So [Life Skills students] have already experienced it where with the rest of the kids in the school, it will be a new thing to them.”

Vickie Brown is the English as a second language teacher. Her classroom is in the first grade wing. “We each took a theme from that overhead [art piece] at the beginning of the hall. Mine is race cars.”

Brown had shared a portable building with two other teachers, with each of them teaching in a corner

“We became very close. We did survive, three women in a building and that’s not easy to do,” she said, laughing. Brown thinks the new building is fantastic.

“This is my 27th year to teach and I’ve taught 17 of those years at Hatton Elementary. I’m back at the original address that I started out–1035 W. Roundbunch, so I’m glad to be home.”

Brown’s two sisters, who are also teachers in Harris County, are impressed with her new classroom.

First day of classes is Aug. 22. “We’ll be ready by Monday,” said McBride.

Based on last years enrollment, they are anticipating 670 students this year. The school has room to grow said McBride. “We can hold up to 750 if not more.” Each hallway has room for 12 regular classrooms.

“This is very exciting to have this for our kids,” said Brown. “They’ll be over the top. I know Bridge City is proud of it.”

“They are gonna just be ‘Wowww!’” said McBride.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.