Benbrook Elementary students eat breakfast with the superintendent on first day

Standing under a clear and sunny sky, excited students and their hopeful parents lined up to enter the bustling hallways of Benbrook Elementary School on Monday, the first day of the 2021-2022 school year.

“I can’t wait to see my classroom,” said one student to her classmate, both shouldering new backpacks as they waited in line to have their temperatures checked and sanitized their hands.

The students were among tens of thousands who returned to classrooms across the district on Monday.

But at Benbrook, they were met with a special surprise — a visit from HISD Superintendent Millard House, who greeted families dropping off their children and helped Nutrition Services staff serve breakfast before stopping to eat with a few students.

“He’s the boss of HISD,” third-grade student Gino Pérez said. “I got to be friends with him at breakfast.”

For Jazleen Cousin, breakfast with the superintendent was a great way to start the morning.

“I had breakfast with Mr. House,” the third-grader boasted. “We talked about being safe and having fun at school.”

Enthusiastic kitchen staff welcomed the superintendent and students into the cafeteria at a reserved table. The breakfast menu – a warm beef sausage sandwich, cold milk, orange juice, and dried cranberries. As they ate, Superintendent House talked to students about the importance of paying attention to their teachers.

“We are looking forward to a safe school year in our classrooms and cafeterias,” Superintendent House said. “We are excited that our campus staff members are pulling together to make decisions in the best interest of students.”

Benbrook Elementary Principal Dana Darden, who has led the campus for more than 15 years, said

lunch service in the cafeteria will now include assigned seating for students to encourage physical distancing and allow for contact tracing, if needed.

“We are so glad to have our scholars back on campus,” Darden said. “We will do whatever it takes to have a safe environment, provide good food, and make school the best place to learn.”