MELBA -- The days of grade-school students in Melba having to shuffle between buildings to eat lunch or use the restroom are officially over.
The highly-anticipated Melba Elementary School held its grand opening Thursday night. Although class will not be held in the spacious new building until Monday, parents, students and educators filled the halls to check out the new space.
Principal Sherry Ann Adams said she couldn't be happier.
"It is absolutely beautiful," she said. "I love it, every inch of it."
The $9.5 building replaces the old elementary school, which Adams said was outdated and bursting at the seams with 400 children in a space built for just 160. The new Melba Elementary has a capacity of 650, leaving five unused classrooms and plenty of room to grow.
"We're ready for tons of expansion over the future, and all of our students will remain in the building - they don't have to go outside to go to their classrooms anymore," Adams said.
New elementary school in Melba opens
Construction delays twice pushed back the projected move-in day. Students and teachers were originally supposed to start the school year in the new building, but had to change plans when poor weather and other problems slowed construction.
Adams said that meant teachers had to pick up and move their classrooms in the middle of the year, resulting in a lot of packing and some long hours. But showing off the new school to children who will spend their days there makes it all worth the hassle, she said.
Marcie Rivas, who came to the grand opening with her third-grader Victoria, said she was thrilled with the new elementary.
"We're really excited - there's a ton more room, way more advances with all the technology," she said. "It's way more room than we've ever had in Melba, so it's really great."
"I think it's pretty cool, because there's going to be a lot more space," she said.
Adams said the new school would never have become a reality without help from the community. Voters approved the $9.5 million bond in 2015 to move the project forward.
"I have to give a ton of credit to our community - they've been phenomonal.in their support and understanding as we've gone through this process," Adams said. "It's just been tremendous, the support that we've gotten."