LAUREL - The gleaming new halls at Meridian High School were abuzz Monday morning, April 8, as students explored their new school building with smiles on their faces before settling in to their classes.
The new education building, which houses classrooms, the main office, the library and more, has been under construction since last March and was finished ahead of schedule, allowing students to move in after spring break. Though students have toured the new building previously, Monday was the first day they could really call it home.
"There's been so much anticipation about getting inside," said Principal James Everett. "It has the sense of a first day of school and Christmas all rolled into one."
Seniors Jayna Edmonds and Arissa Alvarez were excited to be in the new building, which will take the place of three older buildings on campus.
"It'll be easier to get to classes and less miserable because you won't be running through the rain to get to different buildings," Edmonds said.
The iconic old main building, built in 1922, had jacks holding up some of the ceilings, wild variations in temperature from room to room, and didn't provide any indoor space for students to gather. Demolition on the older buildings should start by the beginning of May, and all three should be gone by June to make way for a new courtyard and bus loop, Everett said. Renovations at the school have cost about $25.4 million, including the education building, a new Career and Technical Education building, a new greenhouse and locker rooms, and a new gym expected to be done this fall.
ASB Vice President Kelsea Clark said the student lounge areas in the new building are a big plus.
"Before, we'd go outside and it would be freezing out or pouring rain," she said. "It's really nice to be able to hang out inside our school."
Athletic secretary Gina Heslep said it was sad to leave the old building because of its history, but said she loved seeing the pride and excitement on the students' faces when they saw the new building.
"I did wake up with a smile on my face this morning knowing I was going to a new school," Alvarez said. "It's going to be nice knowing that kids coming up will have a nice school building to go to."
Meridian High School is hosting an open house Wednesday, May 1, with a dedication ceremony starting at 6:30 p.m. and the open house running until 7:30 p.m. The event will include a tour of the new education building; visits with school and district staff, architects, the construction team and local legislators; and complimentary hot dogs, chips and drinks.