COLUMBIA, Mo. - About 18,000 Columbia Public Schools students are back in school Tuesday for the first day of class.
For weeks, ABC 17 News has been looking into changes to start times and bus routes because of the new Battle High School. District officials said everything seemed to go smooth and were surprised to see how relaxed the environment was.
The teachers and students walked into Battle High School still in awe of the building. They said it's been a long time coming, and everything they've put together for two years is finally here.
"With all the structures and trying to build a culture, it's here and it kind of gives you goose bumps and you can say it's finally here," Battle High School principal Kim Presko said.
Presko said the first high school in Columbia in 40 years is off to a good start. She says the $75 million school has many features that you don't normally see in a high school. One of those is the student commons area.
District officials said everything has worked out better than they imagined.
"They've got their schedules, they're hanging out in the commons, it's just what you want," Columbia Public Schools superintendent Chris Belcher said. "It's just a normal school day and for the first day of school at a brand new high school, just to see it this calm and relaxed just makes me very proud."
Presko said what she wants is for the students to create a culture and set the tone for the high school in the future.
"[The students] are the creators and keepers of traditions and culture, so they have a big job to do," Presko said.
The start times are vastly different from last year. District officials said it seemed to work out well for them and dispersed traffic throughout the city more. However, some students in athletics said it's going to make it difficult for them because they won't get out of practice until 6:30 p.m.
School district officials said there were some first day of school problems. They plan to hold a debrief meeting with staff and work out all of the problems by the end of the week.