Christmas came early for Spring Hill Junior High and Springfield High School students as they had a chance to visit the new school they will attend beginning in January.
On Dec. 18, Spring Hill Junior High students began their day at 7:30 a.m. by packing up their belongings, getting locker assignments for the new school and writing down their new home room numbers on their schedules.
Along with their teachers, they loaded onto buses and headed for the new building.
As they came through the doors for the first time there was an air of excitement.
Students were heard saying, "Wow," "Awesome," and pointing out different parts of their new school to each other as their eyes honed in on different aspects of the building.
Teachers escorted their students through the halls, up the main staircase and to their homerooms.
After seeing their rooms, students worked on opening their lockers. Some had difficulty with the combination locks, but they all conquered the new lockers and then had time to explore the building.
Once they were doing with an up-close view of the building, the students and teachers met in the auditorium for a virtual tour of the school. Following the virtual tour, students were instructed on cafeteria procedures and went back to homeroom to begin a mock class change. This gave them a chance to run through their schedule and map out the best routes from class to class.
"It is going to take a while for me to get used to the school. It is complicated," seventh grader Shawn Tibet said, adding that the rooms at the new school are much larger. "The rooms are bigger and there is actually room to move your chair back."
Teachers were equally excited as they led their students to their new homerooms.
Some mentioned how at home their students looked in their new surroundings and expressed excitement about getting started in their new work space.
"I am so excited. I am excited to teach in this school. It is my 20th year in education and it is so different than what I started with," teacher Lisa Scullen said, pointing to the SMART projector in her room. "Everything used to be out of a book or off worksheets. We no longer have chalk boards."
Scullen lives in the community and noted how much the building means to her both personally and professionally. She has a daughter who will attend the school one day.
"It is exciting as a community member as well. "It is exciting for the whole community," Scullen said.
Each room has a SMART projector. Principal Michelle Warner said at Spring Hill there were teachers who did not have a SMART board, but a smile crossed her face when she added that students have volunteered to help instruct teachers who are new to the SMART technology.
Page 2 of 2 - Band director Ernie Cole is excited about the new band room.
"It is all very cool. The band room is a tad smaller than we are used to, but we have a lot of junk to throw away. We are so excited to be in the new building. The kids are so excited to move over here. It is like Christmas coming early," Cole said.
According to Warner, teachers and administrators brought 420 students for the visit and it seemed like they were all having fun.
"I think it is very exciting. It has been a long time coming and they deserve it," Warner said. "The students are so excited. They are even excited they figured how to make their lockers work."
The following day, Dec. 19, the high school students reported to homeroom in the old building and prepared their items for the move to their new school. They then walked down the hill with their school belongings and went through the same orientation process as the junior high students.
The student response to seeing the new school in person was summed up by a junior high student who stopped Warner and said, "This is the nicest school I have ever been in."
Classes in the new school begin Jan. 7. A dedication and open house will be held on Jan. 4 for the public. The dedication begins at 10 a.m. and tours of the school will follow.