MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) --A new elementary school is serving families in a neighborhood where students previously had to be bussed across town.
Celebrations got underway at Merced City School District's newest elementary school. Rivera Elementary fills a void in the Northwest part of the city.
Principal Catherine Puckett says "These students have not had a school of their own for a good 20 years. They've been bussed to 9-10 different schools across the district."
When district officials decide to make 6th grade part of its elementary schools instead of middle schools, it meant open space next to Rivera Middle School. Officials transformed old classroom buildings and constructed several new wings for the elementary classes, ultimately creating a two-school campus.
Rivera Elementary school houses Kindergarten through 6th grade while Rivera Middle School is only 7th and 8th grades.
Puckett says, "We've got the unique structure here especially with this new building to create an environment where you've got 7th and 8th graders mentoring primary age students. We've got kids who come over to do reading with kids and who are helping our science classrooms."
Parents like Davina Briggs love they finally have an elementary school just down the street from where they live that they can call their own.
Davina Briggs says, "I love having it close because we were going to have to commute all the way across town and we are very involved in the school so having it close means we can come to numerous activities."
The roughly $7 million project was paid for through a local bond measure and some matching district funds. Officials say it's built with technology and 21st century standards to match with today's common core curriculum.
Puckett says "The ideas of communication collaboration creativity and critical thinking and really the way the school is set up is around that."
The district is also planning on building a preschool on campus. That project is expected to break ground later this month and open by August.