By Rachel Shirey
RIVERDALE — For Riverdale Elementary School, “It’s just like Christmas all over again,” said one student to Principal Kelly Veal as school started for the first time in their new facility.
The pleasure was evident on students’ and teachers’ faces as they enjoyed the subtle smell of newness, the shiny water fountains and floors without evidence of abuse.
“We’re very excited,” Kelly said. “We have state-of-the-art technology in this building. It was something we might have had at one time, but it wasn’t up and running. The facility itself, just having an indoor gym, just having all the upgrades has been very exciting for the staff members.”
The new building, which has been in the works since at least 2006, comes as a relief for many teachers and parents.
Dawn Douglas, mother of fourth-grader David Douglas, said she feels her kids are safer now because they won’t be vulnerable and walking between buildings to go to class.
“The previous location, you were allowed to go in pretty much any door, the children went outside from one class to another and it was bad,” Douglas said. “Sinks were dirty, floors were scuffed up, things of that nature.”
The former building, which was built in the 1950’s, hadn’t been renovated in several years.
However, Douglas thinks the new facility is “beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”
The new facility is located next to Drew High School at 6253 Garden Walk Blvd. in Riverdale. The building was designed by Southern A&E, and constructed by Hensler & Beavers General Contractors.
In the midst of teacher planning and preparation at the new building, the school hosted an open house for students and parents to familiarize themselves with the lay of the land all over again.
“Some parents stated that it was hard to get their children in bed because they were so excited about coming to school,” Veal said.
Veal also said that students have been ogling at the perks of their new school, like their media center, indoor gym, art rooms, music rooms and their classrooms, but she expects the hullabaloo to die down in the next few weeks.
“We’re all enjoying it, and we hope to enjoy it for many years to come,” Veal said.