A few finishing touches remain, but the with the smell of new paint lingering in the air, students within the Cleora School District met a goal set in motion on Oct. 28, 2016. 

They officially began the 2017-18 school year on Tuesday, Aug. 22, in their nearly 30,000-square-foot building - which includes a new cafeteria, library and gymnasium.

It's the first time, in 75 years, the 130-some pre-kindergarteners to eighth graders will not attend class within the original building, but instead walk the halls of the new "cross-shaped" facility. 

As he walked through the halls of the new school, Cleora Superintendent Kenny Guthrie smiled.

He is particularly proud the district's carved mascot sits in the intersection of the four wings, ready to greet students as they come in the main doorway.

He's also the first to point out the building will contain the district's first full-scale library, once the shelving units arrive in the next few days.

"It's something we have not had and is long overdue," Guthrie said. 

School officials have begun to cross items off the construction punchlist. In the next two weeks, most likely in September, school officials will host an evening ribbon cutting/open house for district and area patrons.

Student, staff reaction

For fourth graders Lilly Youngbear and Alexis Currie, students' reaction to the new building can be summed up in one word - amazing.

Youngbear said she particularly likes the fact the school's new water fountains have an option to fill water bottles, while Currie likes the new buffet which offers salad and fruit items at lunch.

Currie also likes the fact that her classroom is one of the rooms built into the new tornado shelter.

"I like it because it's safe," she said. 

Lynelle Pilkinton, school administrative assistant, agrees with Youngblood and Currie, also using the word amazing to describe her reaction to the building.

"It's breathtaking," she said. "That's the only way I can describe it."

Teresa Bump, cafeteria manager agrees. 

She loves the new, larger kitchen, which gives her new options as she prepares the students' meals.

"It's nice to have this, compared to what whe did have," Bump said. "It makes serving and planning easier." 

Third grade teacher Tina Ohlstrom said the building is "fantastic."

"It's kid friendly, very safe and secure, and an exceptional learning environment," Ohlstrom said, saying one of her favorite features is the common sink area built between the two restrooms. 

"It encourages good behavior in the restrooms," she said.

She also likes the new technology improvements, as well as the new classrooms and chairs in each room.

About the school

The new facility was built using monies raised in a bond issue, approved by Cleora voters in November 2015.

At the time, 64.84 percent of the voters approved a plan for the $4.09 million bond to be used to construct a new school building, as well as make improvements for school furnitures and equipment. The bond was approved by 225 votes to 122 votes in Delaware County. While the district includes voters in Craig County, no ballots were cast.

This is the first time district voters approved a bond, to allow officials to build a new building.