FARMINGTON — Students and staff of the new Tibbetts Middle School were enjoying the transition into a new campus as a majority of Farmington area students returned to their classrooms on Friday.
Most students from Aztec, Bloomfield, Central and Farmington schools started the 2013-2014 year this week.
Special education teacher Stacey Potter was one of the first teachers to arrive Friday morning, excited to welcome the 7th and 8th grade students. The sixth-graders started on Thursday.
"It's wonderful, we are so ready for these kids," Potter said. "They have a wonderful, brand new school to come to and I think they are really going to enjoy it."
Before the school day started, students hung out on the outside patio by the bus drop off on the east side of the building.
Students playing basketball outside on the cement court shot balls that stuck in the brand-new nets on the goals.
Eighth-grader Wesley Caldwell said the biggest change for him was having to wake up early to ride the bus to the new campus on Twin Peaks Boulevard.
Caldwell used to walk to the old campus on Apache Street. On Friday, he caught a ride with friend Brandon Staley's mother.
Staley said he was excited for the new shop classroom and the extra space students have to work on their projects. The old campus, he said, was small.
"Yeah, it was tiny, even the shop room," Staley said. "When we did our work in there, it was too tiny, our tables were too small to work on."
Before school started with an assembly in the gym, seventh-grader Azis Martinez toured the school with his parents, Dario and Angela.
Angela Martinez said it was Azis' first year in Farmington schools and added that she was impressed by the new building.
"It's nice, I like it," Dario Martinez said.
Principal Karen Brown spoke at the morning assembly, welcoming new students to Tibbetts who were there because of redistricting efforts. She encouraged returning students to welcome them.
"The students who transferred here from Hermosa (Middle School) or another school, we need to welcome them, help them out and answer questions they have about what we do here at Tibbetts," Brown said. "In a way, we are all new students because we are in this brand new, beautiful building."
Sixth-grader Chevel Shepherd walked onto the gym floor during the assembly to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The entire gym audibly "awwed" at her entrance and erupted in applause after Chevel completed the national anthem.
Chevel had recently moved to Farmington from Florida with her parents Julie and Robert "Gator' Shepherd.
School Resource Officer Lisa McGaha asked Chevel to sing at the assembly after hearing her on Thursday.
"I was a little bit nervous but I thought it was awesome," Chevel said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is so awesome, I'm glad everyone liked me, it's cool.'"