It took a bit longer than expected — and caused a fair share of anxiety — but Lake Mountain Middle School’s halls are finally filled with students.
“It has been the hardest thing I have ever been through, but I don’t think I would have changed it, because I think it has been good for our community to rally and support us,” said Mark Whitaker, the school’s principal.
The Saratoga Springs school partially opened Wednesday about a month after the first day of school.
In August, the Alpine School District announced the school wouldn’t be ready for students by the scheduled first day of the school year and that students would be using a hybrid education model blending online education and optional, in-person meetings at the nearby Vista Heights Middle School until Sept. 10. Then, the day before school was expected to start, it learned its first day would be delayed a second time after the school was unable to get occupancy.
Construction on the school started months late due to coordination between different entities and projects in the area caused delays. A late winter and wet spring pushed back work even further.
The school’s 1,300 students were welcomed Wednesday morning with music and high-fives. The school’s eastern side will be closed off to students as work continues, and some parts, such as the auditorium, won’t be completed until December. The construction zone is blocked off by locked doors and a wall of plywood to prevent students and construction workers from accessing the other side.
The school scheduled a last-minute back-to-school open house Tuesday evening to give students and parents a chance to walk the halls before the first day.
“It was so awesome,” Whitaker said. “Everyone was so excited to see the new school.”
Although it’s been a rough few weeks, Whitaker said the delay has helped build the school’s community. Students were able to get more one-on-one time with teachers through the open labs, and the wait meant everyone was excited to finally be in the building.
“I think kids were chomping at the bit to go to school, and I think that’s unusual for some kids,” he said.
He’s interested to see what long-term impacts learning from home has on the students, and if it will make them more self-motivated to do homework and give them better time management skills.
“I think mostly it is going to be positive,” Whitaker said.