Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Juniper Elementary and Principal Michele McCabe is ready to welcome in new students.
"I think excitement is an understatement. It is, I feel, like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to open a school from the ground up," said McCabe.
Beyond the state-of-the-art campus and eco-conscious campus, McCabe said there's more that sets Juniper Elementary apart from other schools in the Atwater school district.
"Students that are native English speakers and native Spanish speakers are in the same class. And they are taught in both languages, with the ultimate goal of being bilingual and bi-literate by the time they leave eighth grade," said McCabe.
The program is called Dual Language Immersion. She said the program serves a needed community, but research has shown bilingual skills give students a better academic experience.
Superintendent Christy Lobao said building the school has been over five years in the making. The last time a school was open in the district was almost 30 years ago.
"In terms of where Atwater is growing and where it has grown, and where we had the need and the overcrowding of schools in this area, Juniper provides relief to the schools," said Lobao.
Second-grade teacher Vicki Castillo is looking forward to welcoming a new group of learners. Castillo said with so much time spent in the classroom, she hopes to create a safe space for students.
"That they know that I care about them and love them, no matter, not just me, but the overall, everyone here on campus, we're here for that 110%,"
The school is fully staffed, and just shy of 400 students are enrolled.
The team here said that's a great amount to start a new year.
The school will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. on August 4th.