It may be April, but it's some students the first week of school in their new buildings.
"It’s awesome!" one student said.
Teachers rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for students on the opening of Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, formerly John Eager Howard Elementary School.
"We always tell our children how much we love them. This building speaks it. Every space in this building cries out love and care," principal Tamara Hanson said.
Hanson said this space is much more conducive to learning. The old school, which she was also principal of, was very old.
"Brick, dark, dim. I mean, we made the best of it, right? But now we don’t have to do everything in a makeshift way. This building lends way to allowing our children to be as innovative and as great as they are," Hanson said.
It's also much safer than the original school. It features a renovated gym, auditorium and cafeteria, plus new high-tech classrooms, a science lad, music and art rooms, and collaborative learning spaces.
"It’s beautiful. It's really nice, nice environment," parent Charles Carroll said.
The renovations are part of the 21st Century School Buildings Plan. The effort started in 2010 to address the city's aging and inadequate public school buildings, funding in part by the city, state and city schools.
"This is the type of learning environment, this is the type of school building, that students deserve. This is what we want all city school students to have," director of community and public relations for the plan, Nicole Price, said.
"It shows that the community can come together and actually do something positive in the city," parent Sean Duvall said.
Dorothy I. Height Elementary School is right across the street from Madison Park North. Up until 2016, it was home to what was known as Murder Mall, a magnet for crime in Reservoir Hill. That was demolished and there are plans to build a grocery store and mixed-income housing. The governor and school officials hope the redevelopment of the school and park will bring more families to the area and boost enrollment. There are still about 200 spots open at school for the upcoming year.
Lyndhurst Elementary/Middle School also opened Wednesday, for a grand total of 4 city schools renovated so far.
Price said their goals are to renovate between 23 and 28 schools by 2021. Pimlico Elementary/Middle School, Robert Poole Building, Forest Park High School, Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School and Arundel Elementary School are set to open in August.