SIOUX CITY | At the almost-open Siouxland Christian School, every room smells brand new. The shiny blue lockers have never been used, and the electronic whiteboards in the classrooms are awaiting their debut.
The mood at the 62,000-square-foot school building was jubilant Tuesday night, as dozens of people gathered to celebrate the almost $9 million that has been raised to finance the preschool-through-12th grade school.
Classes starts August 23, and kindergarten teacher Jean Thomas said she and her colleagues are still getting things together in preparation for the new year in the new school.
The most remarkable part of the new building for Thomas, who taught at the old Siouxland Christian for 30 years, is how modern it is.
"We're updating everything as we go along, we've updated our technology, we've updated of course the building and the facility, all the furniture is new, and everything is new here," Thomas said.
Emily Yanney graduated from the old Siouxland Christian this year -- having attained an associate's degree while still in high school there. Her mother, Trish, is a preschool teacher at Siouxland Christian.
Yanney, who led tours of the new school during the event, called the brand-new basketball court "one of the highlights of the whole building" while showing it to attendees.
"It's a very big improvement," Yanney said of the court. She also touted the building's new safety features, including security cameras in classrooms.
Besides the new basketball court and other bells and whistles, Yanney said one of the greatest assets the school has is its superintendent, Steve Peters.
"He (Peters) totally transformed the school," Yanney said. "We wouldn't be in this building if it wasn't for him."
While Yanney credited the new school to Peters, he passed the credit to all of the school's supporters and donors.
Without community support, the school -- which, being Christian non-denominational, has neither the formal backing of a church, nor public funding -- probably would not be in the new building.
"It's just been phenomenal, it's been a group of people that's come together," Peters said of the local support for the school.
Enrollment in the school has risen from about 130 to 230 during Peters' tenure as superintendent, making the much-larger new school a welcome change.
Arlene Boscaljon of Sanborn, Iowa, was among many in the crowd impressed by the new school building, and like others, she has a personal connection to it.
Boscaljon's late husband's memorial fund left some money to the school, three of her grandchildren are Siouxland Christian graduates, and two other grandchildren will be there this fall.
"It's a fantastic place," Boscaljon said. "I'm just amazed."