Amsterdam School District students will start heading back to school Wednesday. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, they may be surprised at what they find when they walk through the doors.
AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- Amsterdam High School Principal David Ziskin said, "The more pleasant the environment is for the students, the more valued they feel."
Construction crews are putting their final touches on the nearly five year, $61 million capital improvements campaign.
"If you walk our grounds, our facility sends a message, students are valued and their education is worthwhile," said Ziskin.
"I think it's good. They re-painted the walls to get rid of all the graffiti the kids did," said tenth grade student Isaiah Cameron-Murray.
Seventeen projects in total are close to complete. Some of the biggest were at the Lynch Middle School, where a brand new plastic gymnasium floor replaces the wooden one that had been damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and the auditorium got a head to toe makeover after being destroyed by unrelated water damage.
Project Manager Greg Ferentino said, "I would hope when they see old areas that were not to visually exciting and now they see new floors, new ceilings, it should provide them with an enjoyable environment to continue their education process."
And above everything else, all of the renovations have safety in mind, like the re-routing of the parking lot at the high school that will keep staff and students out of the way of buses.
"You weren't allowed to go where buses were, but people did anyways, so now they made one lane for buses to come in and one for them to go out so they won't collide with cars," said Cameron-Murray.
Other improvements include a new high school sign that will be unveiled on the first day of school, as well as a new boulevard feel entrance way.
"It's such a radical change to what it was and it just looks fantastic and so welcoming," said Zaskin.
Ferentino said, "The buildings are at a point where they are substantially complete and ready for use."