"I think it is a sight to see. I cannot wait until it is all done," student Devon Rismay said.
Rismay was one of several students who gave tours and explained the features of the newly built facility during Friday night's grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting.
"It is a lot of room. It's a free environment. I love the JROTC program and the jazz band. My favorite feature of the new school is the colors. It stands out from other schools," Rismay said.
Dozens of students, community members and school officials came out to celebrate the milestone in Boca Ciega High School's history, the official opening of the new 103,000-square-foot administration, media center, cafeteria and classroom building.
"Our kids deserve this building, they do," Pinricpal Michael Vigue said.
Rismay says the media center/library is "at least" 10 times larger than the previous library.
The approximately 10,000-square-foot media center with two full-sized computer classrooms replaces two small classrooms crammed with books. The administration offices are centralized instead of being on the north end of campus. The new state-of-the-art facility offers a spacious, open environment for learning. The cafeteria has quadrupled in size, seating 600 from around 150.
"(The new building is) incredible. Our kids are about as resilient as they come. For our kids to have a place to congregate during lunch is huge," said Vigue.
Plus, the new building has more than 20 classrooms. All of the classrooms now have interactive technology for learning such as smart boards and response clickers (where students can give feedback to teachers).
The building was done in a phased approach over several years so students and staff could stay on campus during construction. The other completely new building, finished a couple of years ago, is a three-story classroom space.
The rest of the buildings on campus underwent complete interior and exterior renovations. The complete facility is 360,000 square foot on 40 acres. The new facility replaces a 1954 building, along with a couple of buildings from around 1990.
"The pride of education of Florida, I will say is right here in Gulfport and it stands with us. This campus is in our future," Mayor Mike Yakes said.
The whole project will be complete in early 2012. The old cafeteria, portables former school adminstration offices, and a couple of buildings along Little League Blvd. still need to be removed. Grassy fields and tennis courts will go in their place.
Students like many features of the new building, such as the cafeteria, TV studio, offices, classrooms, media center and access across campus.
Follow the link to vote on your favorite feature, on the Boca Ciega High School's website.