New school for a new school year

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

ETOILE, TX (KTRE) - Etoile is the french word for star. The stars must be lined up correctly over the lakeside community that bears the name, but is never pronounced by East Texans as the French say it. No matter how you say it, everyone knows the opening of a brand new school couldn't have been timed any better.

A school to house kindergarten through 8th grade is a dream come true for seasoned teachers. "As a teacher it is wonderful because I have been here for 24 years and this is the first new classroom I've gotten," Deborah LeBlanc said while decorating her first grade classroom. "This is heaven."

Superintendent Andy Trekell is counting his lucky stars. First, a $2.8 million  school bond passed. Then the bonds were sold in the nick of time before interest rates and construction costs sky rocketed. The project stayed on schedule and on budget. Not all districts are so lucky.

"Those that did it a little bit later, what they passed their bond for, they were not going to able to build the facility for," Trekell explained.  "That was all across the state."

A new school and renovated administration area doesn't come around often, so special efforts are made to do it right. "We have one computer for every three students," Trekell said when entering one of three new computer labs. All the equipment was purchased through a grant and a special funding that benefits qualifying school districts.

Classrooms are equipped with data projectors, streaming video, and inter active teaching boards. Students will be given clickers for sort of a classroom Jeopardy. "It's basically, they have the remote controls at their desks where they can put in their answers," Steve Horrocks, math teacher and recruited computer tech explained.  "The system will quickly tally up the answers, tell them what percentage of the class was right."

Educators are confident that the new building will influence the district's already 89.8% TAKS passing rate to go even higher. "It builds their self esteem when they see the community built them a new school," LeBlanc said of students.

Linda Tootle, a special education teacher was busy putting the final touches on a colorful arrangement in her her room. She knows company is coming Thursday at 6 p.m. for a dedication and open house. "I love it. It is exciting," Tootle giggled.

If students are half as excited as their teachers a lot of gold stars will be handed out this school year in Etoile.

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