The annual Get Guard Ready Back-to-School Party featured an additional event this year, the official groundbreaking ceremony for a fine arts center, which will complement the original vision for Brook Hill School. This inauguration took place nearly 26 years after the inauguration of Ornelas Hall, the first classroom building on campus.
The fine arts center, to be called the Soules Center for Fine and Performing Arts, will include specialized classrooms for teaching vocal, instrumental, dramatic and visual arts and a 700-seat auditorium, which will serve as a chapel, according to a press release. from school.
The Boldly Brook Hill campaign began quietly in 2019, raising funds from Brook Hill families and faculty members. In March of this year, after raising just over $19.6 million, the fundraising campaign was publicly announced.
Over the next two years, due to the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain issues, and other forces beyond the school’s control, the cost of completing planned projects has increased, with a estimated $6 million needed on top of initial cost estimate.
At Monday’s groundbreaking, school principal Rod Fletcher said a total of $28,823,205 was raised through the Boldly Brook Hill campaign.
“I don’t know if any of us really understand how incredibly rare it is for a school like 25-year-old Brook Hill in a small town to raise close to $29 million,” Fletcher said. “I want to thank each of you for your generosity and support of this Boldly Brook Hill campaign.”
These funds will not only support the construction of the fine arts center, but also several other projects, including the new Young Field turf at Herrington Stadium, which is already complete. Other projects include:
• A comprehensive Learning Enrichment and Dyslexia Center (6th through 12th)
• Eight lighted tennis courts
• Renovation of the primary school library
• A new playground for the primary school
• Improvement of the science laboratories of the high school
• Expansion of Ornelas Hall, providing additional classrooms at the college
• Improvements to the boarding village
• Security fence at the front of the campus, with a guard post at the main entrance
• New interior roads to facilitate circulation
• Growth of the endowment to $6 million, to ensure the financial sustainability of the school
Patti Eden, choir director entering her 25th year, has been at Brook Hill since it opened.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said of the fine arts center’s grand opening. “We made do with the facilities we have and we did an amazing job, in my opinion, the fine arts did it. But to see the support from the community, what they just did, financially and just encouraging, that to me as an educator means a lot.
With groundbreaking during Get Guard Ready and construction underway during the school year, Eden hopes to keep students excited about the new facility.
“It’s kind of terrifying to imagine moving everything from my class there, but at least I have time to plan everything out,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Founder and Chairman of the Board, Steve Dement, is perhaps most excited about the current developments at Brook Hill.
“It’s very gratifying, because it’s just confirmation of God’s faithfulness to people,” Dement said. “We started the project with no students, no student prospects, just in the faith that this would be a place that would care for the children of East Texas and that God just blessed again and again and again.”
Completion of the various projects is expected to take 12 to 18 months. Work on the fine arts center should not interfere with classes due to the location of the new facility, according to Dement.
“The noise that we will hear will be very pleasant, very welcoming,” he said.
Dement seemed humbled by the disposition given in the Boldly Brook Hill campaign that allows a vision to become a full reality.
“It’s just good to see so much support, not only from the families of Brook Hill, but also from the community. Bullard is a great community and we have received tremendous support from municipal authorities as well as citizens here in Bullard. The families who have participated, not only in the school itself, but in this particular campaign, have been so selfless and generous beyond imagination.
For more information about the campaign and how to get involved, contact Brook Hill’s Director of Advancement, Laurie Humphries, at [email protected] or 903-894-5000.
Brook Hill School is a Christ-centered college prep day and boarding school for K-12 students. Founded in 1997, the school also celebrates 25 years of service to students around the world.