ATHENS, Ala. - High schoolers will start class in their new $60 million school on January 23rd. It's a relief for school leaders who announced the news this week, after several construction delays over the past year.
"If we were trying to move everybody in the school system right now, it'd be a nightmare," Athens city schools superintendent Trey Holladay said.
Holladay was more guarded this time around before opening the new high school.
"We weren't going to announce anything until we had it in hand," Holladay said.
This week, Athens school leaders received a passing grade from the state after an inspection of the new high school. After construction delays in August and November, school leaders were relieved to announce the school will open next week.
"The 23rd is going to be like their first day of freshman year," Athens high school principal Travis Schrimsher said. "They're not going to know where to go or how to get there."
The state inspection allows the school to open up to students next week. But Holladay says there is some work remaining on the school's auditorium, which has room for over 800 people.
"You'll have punch list items you have to take care of as we go through. And those are most of the time minor," Schrimsher said.
Students have two days of testing this week. Holladay is waiting until after Monday's holiday and a teacher workday before welcoming the kids.
"They might not necessarily remember what they did in a science class, but if they're the first class to ever play a basketball game in that gym, that's something they'll take with them the rest of their lives," Holladay said.
The $60 million project has been in progress for about 10 years and now the wait is nearly over. Superintendent Holladay confirmed they received the certificate of occupancy from the state building inspectors and a letter of substantial completion from the architect of the project.
"We were going in that building one way or the other next week," Holladay joked.
The school will host an open house from 5-6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 so students can find their way around the new building.
Mayor Ronnie Marks says the school will have impacts across North Alabama and was a necessity.