NEW HAMBURG, MO (KFVS) - It's a couple years in the making, but the doors at the new Kelso C-7 school in New Hamburg, Missouri are finally open.
Students walked in their brand new school building last week after years of waiting.
"It really feels amazing," Kelso C-7 Superintendent Kim Burger said with excitement. "And that's kind of an understatement!"
In February of 2016, a wall settled in the old elementary school in New Hamburg. That caused students to go to the church across the street for school for the remainder of that year.
It was because of that settling wall and the age of the building that leaders decided to go to the voters for a brand new building. And those voters approved with a 76-percent yes.
"I know it doesn't happen that way everywhere," Burger added. "I've said it from day one that one of the best things about this school district is definitely the people. This is their school and they love it."
In February of 2017, a groundbreaking was held for the new school. Construction began at that time as students were having classes back in the old school building. The students were cleared to have class back in the old school for the time until the new school was built.
The new school building has the latest 21st-century learning environment features. It's roughly 21,000-square foot which fits grades pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.
The classrooms are arranged with a pod concept built around the library with other rooms for collaboration. It also includes administration offices, a kitchen, teacher resource rooms and more.
They also have security measures with the new building to help keep everyone safe.
With the recent events in the past years at schools across the country, safety was one of the greatest concerns for the students, staff and the community. This facility features lock down capabilities and security cameras to help protect the students and give them peace-of-mind while in the building.
"We want to protect our kids," Burger said. "That's our number one priority. We want to shut that door and when they come in our doors, we want to shut it. We want to try and keep the rest of the unsafe world out and keep it bright and sunny and cheerful for our kids to have a positive learning environment."
The school also has a storm shelter in the restrooms in each pod that are compliant with FEMA standards. Also, there are additional safety measures as well that are an improvement from the previous building.
"This is a safety issue as far as not having stairs," Burger explains. "If a kiddo broke their foot or on crushes, we would have to move entire classrooms where that's a disruption to the learning environment where we don't have to do that anymore for kids."
Burger feels this is an improved quality learning atmosphere to where the students are more comfortable to be able to learn.
"We have more space, brighter lights," Burger mentioned. "Even in our cafeteria, we were making a note the other day that on a sunny day that it just felt good to be in there. So if we are feeling it, I know our kids got to feel so much better just coming in with so much natural light."
Burger said the architects did a great job planning on many areas and details of the school such as windows and even the outside touches that make it so unique and feel like home to them.
"Even the outside part of it, our architect was very intentional about it," Burger said. "The stone on the front of our building was selected to match the stone on the church which is a big part of our community."
Work is still being done at the school at this time as they continue to work on the grounds surrounding the school, as well as, placing a playground in the near future.
"It's a very emotional process to see how far we've come," Burger said. "It's also great to get back to business. We provided this great building for our kids and now it's going to be even better to see where we are going to go from here."
Burger does want to personally thank everyone who made this possible and is glad to see so much support from everyone in the community.