Lined up on the hardcourt, Kolter Elementary School students eagerly awaited their turn to grab fun signs and silly glasses and squeeze between columns of red, white, and blue balloons for the perfect photo op.
On the far end of the court, the students — all clad in blue t-shirts emblazoned with a large “60” — chased each other around and danced to music booming through nearby speakers.
The spirited atmosphere was part of celebration day, which included a watch party for the virtual grand opening and 60thanniversary of the newly built school.
“That turned out so good!” fifth-grader Corban Costner shouted after watching the virtual celebration alongside her classmates.
Kolter was among four HISD elementary schools that had to be torn down and rebuilt due to damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey. Students and staff were forced to relocate for three years while the new school was built.
Opened in the fall of 2020, the new Kolter features open, brightly colored spaces, abundant natural light, and extended learning areas for student collaboration. The two-story, 91,300-square-foot-building accommodates about 750 students.
“This marks the finish line of our Harvey experience,” Kolter Principal Julie Dickinson said.
“[Our grand opening] was very important but more symbolic than anything else that we close that chapter out and start a new chapter here in this awesome building.”
The virtual grand opening showcased the new school building and highlighted Kolter students.
Fifth grader and second-generation Kolter Cougar Jenna Bayne was featured in the video and said she was proud to represent her school.
“It was nice to be able to see the finished product and know that our work went into something that came out so well,” Bayne said.
As part of the celebration, all students – including those enrolled in virtual classes – received a 60th anniversary t-shirt to wear for the premiere, a sweet treat, and take-home anniversary balloon.
Earlier in the day, students planted sunflower seeds in the school garden aptly named the Grass Room. Funds to build the garden were raised by Kolter’s Parent-Teacher Organization.
“It was a particularly exciting way to see that things continue to grow and move on towards the future,” Kolter PTO President Margaret Flippin said.
Watch the Kolter virtual grand opening and 60th anniversary celebration. For the latest on construction news, follow @HISD_Build on Twitter.