Houston, October 17
An elementary school in the US state of Texas named after Indian-American trailblazer Sonal Bhuchar has been formally dedicated to her memory at an official ceremony where speakers highlighted her contributions to the community and the needy.
The Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) Board of Trustees on Sunday unanimously approved naming the elementary school after Sonal, who died in 2019 at the age of 58 due to cancer complications.
The funding for the Sonal Bhuchar Elementary School in Missouri City, Texas was provided through a 2018 bond.
Sonal was an FBISD board member, an esteemed leader, a consensus builder and a well-respected trailblazer.
She was a dedicated volunteer with Child Advocates, the Literacy Council, the Cultural Arts Foundation and the Fort Bend Education Foundation.
She was elected to the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees for six years and served as the Board President for two years.
Sonal also took her community service to the political field too and sought the Republican Party nomination for the State Representative position in 2012.
In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbot appointed Sonal to the One Star National Service Commission Board which promotes volunteerism and oversees the administration of the AmeriCorps programmes in Texas.
Originally from Mumbai, Sonal, a professional physiotherapist, had her bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Mumbai University before immigrating to Houston in 1984 with her physician husband Dr. Subodh Bhuchar.
The memorable dedication for the school named after her opened its doors in August.
The school's mascot, a Bengal tiger named Royal, is an emblem of Bhuchar's Indian culture. ROYAL stands for Resilient, Optimistic, Youthful, Admirable, Leader.
Walking into the lobby of the school is a prominently placed mural on a wall, with her image alongside a quote that guided her life, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
The school was built to house 1,000 students and features an outdoor classroom for students' and teachers' use on nice weather days.
Glowing tributes were paid by the speakers at the ceremony, highlighting the contribution of Sonal in the community and how she encouraged them to serve for the betterment of the needy in the community.
Consul General of India D C Manjunath, who was amongst the special guests at the event, paid his tributes and gifted the elementary school with special books on India.
Sonal's children gave an emotional speech about the lessons learned from their mother, and how she spent hours volunteering the community causes without any expectations in return as she believed in doing things for good without an ego.
The school will forever promote education and development, which was close to her heart. Their speech touched many chords and left many eyes wet.
“Along with establishing her own practice, she managed her husband's office, raised three children, and served on various charitable boards in the community”, they said.
“She served in many leadership roles, and up until her passing, was actively involved as a Board Member with the Child Advocates of Fort Bend and Parks, Art, Recreation, Culture, and Streetscapes (PARCS).
“During her tenure with the district, she spearheaded many efforts including chairing the WATCH programme (a healthy lifestyle education program for elementary school kids), developing the concept for the Fort Bend Education Foundation's Annual International Festival to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the District, Student Leadership Programme, Legislative Advocacy Program, and countless scholarship opportunities for students."
“She was a giver in the community, highly regarded,” said Christie Whitbeck, superintendent for Fort Bend ISD.
Others who spoke at the dedication include Judy Dae, FBISD Board President, Robin Elackatt, Mayor Missouri City, Nikki Robert, the school Principal, Rebecca Wells, the school music teacher.
Principal Nikki Roberts said she is “incredibly excited”.
Roberts told PTI that we are honoured to celebrate the life of service Sonal Bhuchar dedicated to the district and the beautiful school she is named after.
Roberts said she wants all children to love learning and is grateful for the opportunity to open a school that pays tribute to a person who was a giant in the community.
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