The copper siding on Overland Elementary was shining as bright as a new penny Wednesday evening when its doors opened.
Rochester Public Schools held an open house for the newly finished school, allowing many people to get a peek inside for the first time.
"This is going to be an amazing learning facility for decades," said Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel. "I am eager for your opinion on the copper. It's getting a lot of attention."
Overland Elementary is the first school funded by the 2019 voter-approved referendum to be completed. This year, it's housing students who would normally attend Bishop Elementary while that school is in the process of being rebuilt.
Paula Boldt, who has taught at Bishop Elementary for three decades, said it's nice being in the new facility, which is larger than the Bishop building.
"The building is beautiful," she said. "It feels spacious. The ceiling is vaulted, so that gives an extra openness to the room."
Rochester students started the new school year in late August, so the school technically has been in use for the past week. But that hasn't been near enough time to give the building a lived-in look. The floors are still shiny. There's nary a scuff mark in sight, and the whole building is filled with the proverbial "new car smell."
Several students attending the school were stationed throughout the building to help with the open house. Fifth-graders Cullen Hansen and Erik Willman were greeting people at the front entrance. They had plenty to say about the new building, from the fact that it had two stories to the fact that the cafeteria wasn't in the gym.
"I also like how you have all the new wings, like their own separate communities," Hansen said.
Fifth-grader Myles Tostenson was greeting people at the top of the stairwell on the second floor. Coming from the old Bishop Elementary, which was decades old, he couldn't help but notice a number of the upgrades that came with the new building.
"I feel like it's more high-tech," he said. "It feels like a private school."