Though Grovetown High officially opens Monday, the first day of classes, many students got a sneak peek of the new school during a Tuesday open house.
Jessica Yates and Helena Smith, both 15-year-old sophomore cheerleaders at the new school, were exuberant at the prospect of being among its first students.
Last year, Jessica and Helena attended Greenbrier High and were among about 400 students rezoned for Grovetown High.
"I'm looking forward to meeting some new people," Jessica said.
Most of the students at Grovetown High will be Harlem High transplants, giving Jessica a chance to make many new acquaintances.
Due to rezonings approved in 2008, Harlem High lost about 600 students to the new $40 million school. Evans High lost between 200 to 300 students, with about half rezoned for Grovetown High and the other half rezoned for Lakeside.
When classes start Monday, school officials are expecting between 1,000 to 1,200 students at Grovetown High.
"I'm excited about coming here," said Kassie Tenaro, a former Harlem High student who will be a sophomore at Grovetown High. "The staff have been so open and nice. They've all been coming up to me and asking me if I'm ready for school and welcoming me."
Prior to the open house, a dedication ceremony was held in a packed gymnasium.
Officials cut a ribbon, unveiled the school's coat of arms, and Principal Penny Jackson announced a contest for students to design the school's warrior mascot.
"We chose the warriors mascot with the image of a modern-day soldier in mind," Jackson said, acknowledging the presence of nearby Fort Gordon and the number of students in the school from military families.
Students will have until Sept. 4, the home opener for the Warriors football team, to turn in their ideas.
Aside from simply being new, Grovetown High also will have new vocational offerings. In addition to traditional vocational courses such as automotive and culinary arts, the school comes with cosmetology and video broadcasting labs.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said that particular emphasis was given to the school's career technology courses during the construction of the 250,000-square-foot facility.
Nagle said he hopes the school will become the system's "flagship" for career technology education.
To start his speech at the dedication ceremony, Nagle recognized former Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau, who had often asked him when Grovetown might get its own high school. Nagle said he had responded by saying he didn't know if it ever would.
"Mayor, we're here," Nagle said to Trudeau. "You were right. I was wrong."
Trudeau acknowledged Nagle's admission by holding his hands in the air in a sign of triumph.
"I'm walking on air," Trudeau said afterward. "It's a great thing for the kids of Grovetown to have a place that they can call their own. This is something that makes us all very proud."
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