TWIN FALLS — Emily Mathis was feeling excited and nervous about her first day of school.
It would be the first time having a locker.
The first time going to middle school.
And the first time attending a brand new school.
A grand opening ceremony was held Thursday evening for South Hills Middle School. The ceremony included speakers and a ribbon cutting. The school was then opened to community members to explore.
“Take pride in this facility,” Mayor Shawn Barigar told the students in the audience. “Take care of it and use it to be successful in life.”
The sixth-grader and her family wandered around South Hills Middle School taking in a mural and stained glass windows. South Hills Middle School — a 13,000-square-foot building — features two levels and a cafeteria with large windows that incorporate plenty of natural light. The school has a gymnasium, practice football field, a game field and track and two soccer fields.
“It’s really cool,” Emily, 11, said “I like how modern it is.”
Emily’s mother, Sarah Mathis, couldn’t agree more.
“I love it,” Sarah said. “It’s well-designed with a lot of lighting coming through. It’s wonderful to be a part of a new school opening.”
The new school, at 1550 Harrison Street South, is among three schools funded by a nearly $74 million bond voters approved in 2014. Rock Creek Elementary and Pillar Falls Elementary opened in August 2016.
South Hills is the first middle school to open in Twin Falls since 1979 when O’Leary Middle School was completed.
“It’s nice to have one here,” Sarah said. “She would have been bused halfway across town, spending probably an hour on the bus.”
Jerome Barrow, 11, was also feeling mixed emotions as he opened his locker for the first time. Inside, he hung his backpack on a hook and neatly lined his books and binders on the bottom.
“I feel like I’m going to get crammed in it,” the sixth-grader said. “There are kids here twice my size.”
But on a more positive note, Jerome said he liked that his locker was near all his classes.
“I feel like I can get the hang of it,” he said.
Jerome’s mother, Natalie Barrow, said with the school being brand new it kind of evens the playing field. Everyone is considered the new kid in school now.
“We came to yesterday to register and he was really pumped,” Natalie said.
Christopher Romero, 11, was also feeling good about his first day of middle school. He explored the hallways with his step-father Jairo Meneses as they located the area where buses would pick up and drop students off.
“It’s pretty nice,” Meneses said. “I like the cafeteria. It’s roomy, spacey and has a lot of natural light.”
Christopher had a little trouble getting his locker open. It only took him 16 tries, but it was all part of growing up, his step-father told him.
“You’re getting older,” Meneses teased. “You’re going to have a mustache next.”