MONIQUE BATSON — Elementary parents have options for ceiling tiles before local school is demolished

Published 12:06 am Thursday, May 11, 2023

Every time I go to Port Neches Elementary for an assignment, I immediately look up and find the ceiling tile with my son’s name on it directly in front of the office.

It’s impossible to miss the tiles filled with stars and names, earned by hundreds of children who reached 100 or more AR points during one school year. They display so much pride and productivity. But when I look up after walking through the front doors, I see a young boy that wanted a ceiling tile so bad, he skipped recess for the last week of eligibility to read and take tests so he could reach his goal.

He knew it was something I had always wanted, having had my two former stepchildren also go through PNE. But never did we reach a ceiling tile — until 2015, when my tiny fourth grader spent every moment of his free time to achieve something he knew would make me happy.

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The students get to pick where their tiles go, and Colby picked somewhere it couldn’t be missed. The following year, when he earned another tile, he had it placed in his teacher’s classroom.

But by the next school year, PNE will no longer exist as staff and students prepare to move into the new Port Neches Intermediate School. The ceiling tiles will not be going with them.

But Port Neches Elementary has offered an opportunity for parents to acquire the keepsake should they want.

“We’ve discovered that tiles are crumbling and breaking as we remove them from the ceiling,” the school posted on social media. “The ceiling tiles are old and full of dust. Instead of asking us to remove your tile, we strongly encourage you to allow us to take a keepsake pic of your ceiling tile, and we’ll email it to you.

“Removing the tiles from the ceiling will be a huge undertaking and strain on us as we try to close our campus and move to PNI; however, we do not want to disappoint our community.”

In order to request a photo or the physical tile, parents can click here to fill out an online form by May 19 that I will link in the online version of this column.

Those who opt for the physical tile must pick them up May 31 between 4-6 p.m.

On May 18, the PNGISD seniors will have their annual walk-through, where they don their caps and gowns and parade through their elementary schools while the young students cheer them on.

My once small fourth grader is now a 6-feet-3-inch senior and could probably reach up and touch his star now.

But his class will be the last of Port Neches students who once walked the halls of the school that my four children and me attended.

And while it might be dusty and crumbling, the two ceiling tiles I’ll be picking up on May 31 come with two generations of my family’s memories.

Monique Batson is Port Arthur Newsmedia editor. She can be reached at