BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — After spending the first part of the school year on another campus, students from Crestworth Learning Academy felt relief and excitement about moving back into their renovated building.
They spent the last two months at Glen Oaks Middle School, because Crestworth was not up to code.
"It wasn't looking too well," said seventh grader Jamilyah Singleton. "Looked old."
The repairs were finished two months ahead of schedule, so instead of returning on the first of the year, they moved back on Monday.
"When we found out," said principal Ericka Jones, "we were just very excited that it was going to be much sooner than we anticipated.
"I have been stalking this building," she said, "because we wanted to just see how much progress was being made."
In addition to better ventilation in the cafeteria kitchen, Crestworth got brand new furniture, carpeting, and computers, and the whole building was repainted.
"That makes me learn better," said eighth grader Kedrick Robertson, "instead of me thinking of all kind of crazy stuff 'cause it's so old."
At Glen Oaks, the Crestworth students used a separate part of campus, but the two student bodies shared common space, such as the cafeteria and gymnasium. The close quarters caused high tension.
"It was okay, but they had a lot of drama," Singleton said of the Glen Oaks students. "Every time (they) saw us, they wanted to fight us, because they didn't like that we was on their campus, I guess."
Robertson said interaction between the two sets of students was stressful, because he tries, "to keep our school positive, and leaders and stuff, make it the best school."
"We got through it without incident," Jones said, "and now we have our own space and we don't have to worry about it."
Since Glen Oaks was five miles away from Crestworth, Jones said community involvement was lower than usual. Now that its building is open again, everyone is invited.
"That's the best part about it," Jones said. "We plan to have a community garden, we have a parent resource center, and we just welcome our parents into the building, because we want them to be a part of what's going on here."
The walls at Crestworth are freshly painted with a soft yellow color, and mostly empty. That makes them a reason for optimism. Singleton said she wants to "decorate (them) with some posters, designing it with our stuff that we do, our work."
But no matter what the hallways look like, Robertson said he and his fellow students are glad to be there.
"I'm just happy," he said. "'Cause it's our home."
For Jones, the best sight of the day was all the students who walked to class in the morning. For a neighborhood school, the additional commute left many students to wonder how they would get to and from Glen Oaks each day.