"Cool," India Hook Elementary School children said Sunday, and they weren't discussing the weather.
They offered impromptu critiques of their future alma mater as they led their families on tours Sunday afternoon after India Hook's official dedication.
About 150 people turned out to hear Schools Superintendent Lynn Moody, the school's principal, Crystal Guyton, School Board Chairman Bob Norwood and others involved in the school's construction and dedication ceremony.
"I've said this was the most beautiful elementary school I've ever seen," Moody said, "but I did not realize how beautiful until the children arrived and our wonderful teachers and administrators and staff put their hearts into it."
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Schoolchildren capped the ceremony by releasing five balloons representing knowledge, justice and peace, friendships, service and the future.
"The students represent tomorrow," Guyton said, and audience members released airy clouds of balloons.
The tour was a learning experience for parents and grandparents. Phil Sharpton, whose grandson, Fulton Curtis, is a first-grader at India Hook, for the first time saw a computer-interactive Promethium board, images swirling around both on the board and on the children's computers in the classroom. India Hook has such a computerized board in every classroom.
"If I were a kid, this would be fascinating," he said, "something I would want to come back to again and again."
Third-grade teacher Michelle Dent, newly arrived in Rock Hill, called the boards "a great enhancement when you teach."
Her students are studying rocks and minerals and can watch lava erupting from a volcano and see the various steps taken in the process on a video projected onto the screen.
"It brings learning to life," she said.
Carson Howe, 7, a second-grader newly arrived from Mount Gallant Elementary, said the board has helped him in math.
"You can add three numbers together," he said.
Let there be more light
Among things teachers lauded were the large windows that allow natural light to enter the classroom.
Second-grader teacher Merridy Mabry, a Lancaster native just returned from teaching in Alaska, said they help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, a kind of depression triggered by lack of natural light.
"I spent the last 12 winters in darkness," she said. "There is a lot of Seasonal Affective Disorder up there."
The kids also give kudos to India Hook's design, which they call "a spider."
It's a pinwheel-shape with the reception area and media center at its heart, and four hallways projecting outward, two grade levels for each of three hallways and the fourth for the arts, the cafeteria and the gym.
"You can't get lost here," said Brockton Brendal, 10, a fifth-grader formerly of Mount Gallant Elementary.
His father, Keith Boyd, pointed out there are a number of advantages to the design.
"Sadly in these times, one of them is it's practical for security," he said.
Brockton's grandfather, Stanley Brendal, a child of the Great Depression, said he voted for the bond referendum that built the school and doesn't regret it.
"It was very well-spent money," he said, "from the design to everything else."
There were lots of smiles in India Hook Elementary Sunday on afternoon. Moody had one of them.
"This is just the beginning of a wonderful new school," she said. "There will be stories for children and parents and grandparents to tell for years to come."