The emotion of the moment almost caught Mission Crest Elementary School Principal Michelle Murphy by surprise.


"I'd like to say thank you to the board and the cabinet for the support over the last three years," Murphy said, trying to hold back tears.


But the reason Murphy wore her heart on her sleeves was clear: Since 2005, as family after family moved into the Mission Crest development near Escondido Avenue and Muscatel Street, the project has worked its way through setbacks. Meanwhile, going by the name Summit Elementary, the school was temporarily situated in nearby quarters adjacent to Summit Leadership Academy.


Finally, on May 1, Murphy presided over the festive grand opening ceremony in the school's mulit-purpose room to celebrate the completion of the campus.


"This is the best staff in HUSD," Murphy said proudly. "They have a lot of enthusiasm, and best of all they're here for the kids."


Mark McKinney, superintendent of the Hesperia Unified School District, said the school's completion was a result of partnerships between the school district, city, developers and residents.


"This truly is a neighborhood school," said school district superintendent Mark McKinney, a neighborhood school that belongs to you."


School board member Bruce Minton brought along a prop to demonstrate the theme of his talk - a branding iron used by his father on the family's ranch.


"Do we ever brand students?" Minton asked. "Sometimes a brand is good. Other times a grand is not so good. No Mission Crest teacher will ever put a bad brand on you. We are all very fortunate to have such a qualified principal. She wants you to have the Mission Crest brand."


School board president Robert Kirk presented a patriotic-theme video entitled "An American Soldier." Afterward, he and Murphy unveiled the school's flag commissioned by the principal.


City Councilwoman Rita Vogler also noted that the school was a result of partnerships.


"Everyone came together and made this happen," Vogler said.


"Students, you have a duty to keep this school as beautiful and as nice as it is today," Vogler added. "And to the Hesperia school district, you're doing a heck of a job."


Also in attendance were school board members Helen Rogers and Lee Rogers, Mayor Mike Leonard, Mayor Pro Tem Thurston "Smitty" Smith, school district administrators, and Mission Crest parents, teachers and students. Assistant Principal Frances Lewis led the "Pledge of Allegiance," and Sultana High student Alyx Yankaskas sang "Crazy Dreams."


Following the ceremony, tours of the campus, which features classrooms housed in one, central building, were provided by the school's GATE students. Dinner combos were available for purchase from Carl's Jr. The Mission Crest Parent Club sold snacks and tickets to carnival games. The photo department took photos of those wishing to commemorate the historic event in room K4.