Kindergarten students walking through the doors of Bradfield Elementary bore shirts with “Class of 2032” emblazoned on the front. But, this was no ordinary first day of school in Highland Park ISD.
The doors at Bradfield Elementary opened to students for the 2019-20 school year in August after a rebuild, which required students to relocate last year.
The new building sits on its original, historic site, but positioned more to the west on the lot. Due to record rainfalls during construction, the playfields were not ready for day one, but the inside of the building was immaculate.
Technology rules the day at Bradfield, highlighted by giant electronic activity boards in most classrooms.
“There are so many areas for students to learn. We are no longer fighting for spaces to encourage and meet learning styles of all students.” -Regina Dumar, Bradfield principal
Students and instructors both praised the new “learning pods,” which are common learning spaces for each grade level encouraging “student exploration and collaboration,” said Regina Dumar, Bradfield principal.
“We also have a new innovation lab where students will be able to thrive in a discovery atmosphere,” she said. “Security is also one of my top priorities, and I’ve been impressed with the state-of-the-art system features that will keep our students and staff safe.”
Size, too, has already made a difference.
The new version of Bradfield is much larger than the old one, and Dumar said there is no longer a “cramped” feeling in the hallways.
“The open spaces are truly fantastic,” she said. “There are so many areas for students to learn. We are no longer fighting for spaces to encourage and meet learning styles of all students.”
Leslie Kennemer, Bradfield’s campus instructional technologist, made sure that morning announcements were up and running on the first day. Fourth-grade students continued the long-standing tradition of broadcasting them live into classrooms.
“I have a small segment on the newscast each day, and I’ve had kindergarten students stop me in the hallway with amazement in their eyes,” Dumar said. “Everyday, our new-ness becomes even better because we are able to focus on some of the added little details that make our building beautiful.”
HPISD rebuilt the school as part of the $361 million bond program. The program also covers the rebuilds of University Park and Hyer Elementary schools, renovations of Armstrong Elementary, McCulloch Intermediate, Highland Park Middle School, and Highland Park High School, and construction of a fifth elementary school.
“On the first day of school, I’m not certain who was more excited – the students or the staff,” Dumar said. “I heard comments from students of all ages saying things like, ‘This looks like a beautiful hotel,’ ‘We love our new learning space,’ and ‘We are so happy to be back home.’”