Berry Elementary is about to be torn down. But one thing all of Berry’s staff agrees on is that Berry’s building is not what makes Berry, Berry. It’s the camaraderie inside that makes the school feel like home to so many.
Teachers, staff, parents, students and community members gathered last week to celebrate that home, honor its legacy and look ahead to the future.
Berry Elementary will be torn down this summer and then replaced with a new and improved building funded by the 2019 Bond (Learn more). In the meantime, until the new school is ready, Berry students and staff will move into the building that was previously Roark Elementary.
Built in 1954 to honor Charles B. Berry, a staple in Arlington’s community and a school board trustee for nearly 30 years, Berry crafted a legacy in the community for its activism and family-oriented service to its parents and students.
Arlington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos joined the Berry family at its celebration with fellow board members David Wilbanks, Sarah McMurrough and Justin Chapa.
“In the spirit of tonight we honor a school who has served for decades,” Cavazos said. “Berry has served honorably with love!”
Jennifer Neher, Berry’s art teacher for the last fifteen years, shared a few reasons why she loves Berry so much.
“For one, the building,” she said. “Although it is a bit dated, it has history. It will always be sentimental because of all the children who have come through its doors. For two, Berry is family! No matter the trials we may go through personally, the Berry family is always there to encourage each other through unprecedented times. Finally, the community. Whether it is the hellos from the families, summer camp at Resurrection Church, or initiatives like Read to Succeed. The community plays a huge part in Berry’s success.”
Karen Lykins and Concepcion Carmargo, former students at Berry, attended the celebration and recalled how their teachers at Berry helped shape them into the women they are today. They praised teachers like Sean Raymond and Lee Jones who played key roles in keeping them focused on what’s important. Carmargo, now a teacher herself at Sam Houston High School, credits Raymond and his teaching style with influencing how she conducts her classroom – always treating each student as a valuable person first.
Raymond has been a part of the Berry family for the last eighteen years. His son was born during this time and has now grown into a young man with his Berry family. Raymond also endured the loss of both parents with support from his Berry family.
As the Berry building closes and a new chapter for the school begins, Raymond is looking toward the future with optimism.
“Berry is a place where parents can feel good about their kids’ education because the teachers love their students. Kids are our priority,” he said. “What will remain the same in the new Berry is the love. The community.”