SOUTH OGDEN -- Back-to-school buzz was in heavy supply as South Ogden Junior High hosted a formal dedication of its new facilities Monday night.
With the bell set to ring Wednesday morning, city officials, construction team members, faculty, parents and students all cheered as the ribbon was cut, officially opening the school for the 2010-11 academic year.
"Here we sit at a new building of education and learning, to start a new year with a renewed vigor for teaching our students," Principal Donald Tanner said to the crowd.
"New strategies, techniques and technologies have been set in motion for students to thrive in very different circumstances than in past years."
The new school building at 650 E. Pleasant Valley Drive replaces the old South Ogden Junior High at 4300 Madison Ave. Built in 1949, the former junior high is scheduled for demolition this fall and is tentatively being looked at for the site of a building for Mar Lon Hills Elementary School.
Student body officers Haily Daniels and Kayli Flitton, both of South Ogden, cut the ribbon as many others involved with the massive project held the ends.
"It was really fun but also kind of hard to cut it," Daniels said, laughing. "As you could see, we were struggling a little bit with the big scissors."
In addition to the honor of cutting the ribbon, the two students helped develop this year's South Ogden Junior High theme: A new school, a new year, a new beginning, forever Spartans.
"We wanted to base it on the new school, but how we would always be Spartans no matter what," Daniels said.
Following the ribbon-cutting, students explored every nook of the 146,000-square-foot school, most eventually making their way to the 26,000-square-foot gymnasium that is part of an agreement between the school and South Ogden city.
"During the week after 5 p.m., we'll get to use the gym and grounds," said South Ogden Mayor James Minster. "We're planning on hosting basketball and volleyball tournaments at this point, but really there are plenty of possibilities for city use with this exciting new building."
While most students in the district won't be walking into a brand-new school on Wednesday, new faces will greet many of them, as six schools welcome new principals this fall: Gina Buttars at Roy High School, Jay Anderson at North Ogden Junior High, Kevin Chase at Lomond View Elementary, Mike Geilmann at West Weber Elementary, Melissa Copeland at Country View Elementary and Linda Smith at North Park Elementary.
While the new school and recreation center is exciting, Weber School District spokesman Nate Taggart said, it's what the school district isn't doing that is something to cheer about.
"We were able to not add any furlough days or raise class sizes at all this year," he said. "And we are all really excited to see the kids' smiling faces again."
As youngsters, parents and faculty gear up for another school year to begin, the students at South Ogden Junior High are anxious to get into their new $18 mil-lion home, complete with a fresh coat of purple stripes and "Spartans" in big white lettering on the gymnasium floor.
But as Principal Tanner reminded, none of it means a thing without the people that make it a learning institution.
"Let us remember that a building does not make a great school," he said.
"Great schools are not only made out of brick and mortar, great schools are made up by those who dwell within their walls."