FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Riverhill School, the only independent, nonparochial school in the Shoals, found a new home right off Darby Drive in Florence. It is the first time they have had a building to claim their own since opening the school in 1980.
Close to 200 students will soon, for the first time, file into Riverhill School.
"It's a huge change from what we've had, but it's a good change," said teacher Donna McAlpine.
"To watch the school come up from groundbreaking, blocks to walls, to actually have desks and books in the classroom, it's been an exciting adventure for the last 12 months," said principal Mary Jane Fowler.
For the past 35 years, the private school has leased a building from St. Michael's Church in St. Florian. Now they have much more space to teach.
"We can host our own events here, have volleyball tournaments and basketball games here, and in the past had to go to other locations in able to do that," McAlpine said.
"We would go to the kitchen, get our lunches and take them back to the classrooms. Now we can all eat together in the cafeteria, and the cafeteria will serve as our safe room," Fowler said.
Soon-to-be fourth grader Rishab Telang got a sneak peak of his classroom.
"It's way bigger," he said.
He even helped his new teacher decide where to put some stuff.
"I unpacked those seats," Telang said.
"For the most part, they know year to year who their teacher is going to be, so you've seen the students, watched them grow up as they've grown from kindergarten or pre-K to fourth grade," McAlpine said.
Through the community and alumni's help, a committee raised money to pay for the $6 million school.
School leaders hope the new location and size encourage enrollment to grow.
"We've made it look like an old school on the outside. It looks like a traditional school. But on the inside, it's state-of-the-art, high quality," Fowler said.
The first day of school for kids at Riverhill is Aug. 10. There's still space for third through sixth grade students to enroll.
They'll continue to build four additional classrooms as this school year goes on.
Copyright 2017 WAFF. All rights reserved.