Neymar Gonzalez could barely contain his excitement.
The Braeburn Elementary School third-grader vigorously clapped his hands as a five-minute countdown launched on the big screen at the front of his classroom.
“Yay! Five minutes until showtime!” Gonzalez squealed. “I’m so excited!”
Similar excitement was felt throughout the school on Friday afternoon as students celebrated the premiere of their school’s virtual grand opening — a specially themed “Bobcat News” segment — with cupcakes and classroom watch parties.
The virtual event officially marked the beginning of a new chapter for Braeburn, which was among four HISD elementary schools that had to be demolished and rebuilt after sustaining significant damage during Hurricane Harvey.
Opened in the fall of 2020, the new $30 million facility has nearly 112,000 square feet of colorful and collaborative learning space spread across two floors and 52 classrooms.
Braeburn Principal Amanda Rodgers said she hoped the virtual grand opening would be a way for the community to see behind the curtain and help them feel like they’re part of the celebration — especially since pandemic-related restrictions have kept most of the school community at arm’s length.
“It’s very important to us for the community to be in the building,” Rodgers said. “We worked so hard to give this school back to the community and now we’ve locked the doors. But we’re working and trying to figure it out and can’t wait for the day that they’ll be able to visit.”
Among the school’s features is a new open concept library with reading nooks, an indoor early childhood play space for prekindergarten students, three playgrounds, and learning stairs.
The areas were showcased as part of a “Bobcat News” breaking news segment, with student news correspondents interviewing fellow classmates and HISD officials as they featured different spots in the school.
Fourth-grader Diana Salazar was one of three correspondents featured in the virtual grand opening as a Bobcat News correspondent. She said she felt honored to be included in Braeburn’s history.
“It’s amazing,” Salazar said. “Even if someone is located in a different place, they will get to watch the video and know how the new Braeburn was created and the history of it.”
After the watch party, fifth-grader Oscar Perez, who also played the role of news correspondent, offered an endorsement for the new school that he loves so much.
“It’s amazing,” Perez said of the new school. “You should attend it, too.”
Watch the virtual grand opening celebration. For the latest on construction news, follow @HISD_Build on Twitter.