KATY/FULSHEAR (Covering Katy News)—Students in the Katy Independent School District return to school on Wednesday, August 15. Thursday night, students at two elementary schools and their families celebrated with open houses.
They had reason to celebrate. Creech Elementary School, 5905 S. Mason Rd., sustained significant flood damage following Hurricane Harvey last year. Students and staff were transferred to the former University of Houston-Cinco Ranch building, 4242 S. Mason Rd., to continue their school year. The district rebuilt Creech and it will reopen this fall as planned.
Meanwhile, Campbell Elementary School, 3701 Cross Creek Bend Ln., is opening its doors this fall for the first time.
While the excitement was palpable at both open houses, the Creech open house was also emotional, given how the school, and many homes in the surrounding area, had to be rebuilt after Harvey.
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“It’s incredible,” KISD Board Trustee Rebecca Fox said. “It looks very good. It’s new, and fresh, and looks like the original Creech.”
Fox said she was the first PTA president at Creech when it opened in 2000.
“A lot of fond memories,” Fox said. “It’s a bit of an emotional response for me. I still live down the street and our house flooded.”
For the project, $5.5 million was allotted for reconstruction and $3.5 million for remediation.
“It’s beautiful and I hope the parents think so, too,” Creech principal Euberta Lucas said. “We just wanted to welcome everybody back home, because this is their home away from home. This is your school home.”
Lucas said she loved the colors and described them as gorgeous. She admitted that when the school was undergoing reconstruction, she couldn’t envision things turning out as nicely as they did.
“You never see it holistically like do now,” Lucas said. “I just didn’t imagine it being so pretty.”
After the school sustained the damage, the district removed the debris and tore down the flood-damaged walls.
The district reconfigured the entrance way to a set of bathrooms. The hallway leading to those restrooms was removed so teachers and staff could better monitor who was coming and going.
The restrooms proved the most challenging renovation because of the necessary pipe cutting and plumbing relocation.
Classrooms were redesigned to include a window that enables teachers and students to see into a hallway, and the windows enable people in the hallway to see inside the classrooms. Whiteboards were installed on a track that enables teachers to slide them in front of the window, thus blocking the ability to see into the classroom, if a safety concern develops.
KISD Chief Operating Officer Lee Crews said the reopening of Creech is a big part of the healing after Harvey.
“This was like a major remodel when you look at it,” Crews said. “This is a very welcoming atmosphere for students, staff, parents, everybody now. It feels like home.”
Everything is on track for the start of school, though some relatively minor issues remain with door locks, repainting in some places, and touch up in others.
“It’s going to be great,” Lucas said.
For the Creech Elementary community, the challenge was overcoming a traumatic storm and the damage it brought. Campbell Elementary has the challenge of creating a new community. It is located in the Cross Creek Ranch subdivision on Cross Creek Bend Lane in Fulshear.
Students attending Campbell Elementary formerly attended Jenks Elementary, 5303 Flewellen Oaks Ln., and Randolph Elementary, 27602 Westridge Creek Ln.
“The construction has been very easy,” Campbell assistant principal Bridget Aleem said.
Like Creech, some minor touchups remain at Campbell, such as the clinic undergoing last-minute touch-ups.
Both Aleem and assistant principal Erika Rodriguez said that the effort to create a new community has come along nicely. Students and their families explored the new building and enjoyed refreshments. They also purchased school spirit items in the blue and green school colors, supporting the Campbell Cubs.
“The community has been very supportive, very welcoming,” Aleem said, adding that the staff is very excited about the opening.
Campbell Elementary is named in honor of Amy Campbell, a long-time KISD teacher.
See previous Covering Katy videos of the Creech reconstruction and the preparation of the former University of Houston Cinco Ranch building into a temporary home for Creech Elementary.