Mitchell Elementary students delight in virtual grand opening watch party

A long red carpet adorned with gold stars and flanked by large striped boxes overflowing with white and yellow balloons posing as popcorn helped set the stage for a celebration at Mitchell Elementary School.

Eager students grabbed bags of popcorn and gathered for classroom watch parties, loudly counting down the seconds until the premiere of the new school’s virtual grand opening.

“I’m going to share this video with everybody I know in Texas,” 9-year-old third-grader Jonathan Kelly hollered as the event began on the large screen at the front of his classroom.

Mitchell was among four HISD elementary schools that had to be rebuilt after sustaining significant damage due to Hurricane Harvey. Students and staff were relocated for the duration of the construction project.

The school opened its doors to students last October when HISD resumed in-person instruction. The 91,300-square-foot, two-story project features open, brightly colored spaces, abundant natural light, and extended learning areas.

“We have been waiting for so long to celebrate as a community,” Principal Elizbeth Castillo-Guajardo said, noting that parents were eager to get a glimpse of the new school. “My staff members were thrilled to decorate the school for the teachers and students for this special event.”

The print-rich campus has an open-concept library with books spread throughout the building. Appearing in the video, kindergartener Dylan Palomares showcased the reading nooks where students can read or study.

Three third graders — Kaden Brown, Eden Thornton, and Sofia Arias — also starred in the video, highlighting the school’s learning stairs, mural, and art classroom, respectively. The trio watched the broadcast together in their classroom.

“Kaden, Sofia, and Eden are great representatives of the school and the value in learning,” said Katie Crimando, their third-grade teacher. “This project will uplift our community.”

Avery Giwa, a Mitchell fourth grader who served as master of ceremonies, also stopped by Crimando’s classroom to watch the broadcast. The 10-year-old stood alongside her principal, fidgeting nervously as the show aired.

“I was excited to tell my mom that I was in the video,” she said after the debut. “I feel pretty good about the whole project.”

It was a sentiment shared by most of her classmates. After the premiere, 8-year-old Erik Villeda offered up a hearty congratulations.

“I think they were great!” Erik said.

Watch the Mitchel ES virtual grand opening celebration. For the latest on construction news, follow @HISD_Build on Twitter.