Friday seemed like the first day of school for Cumberland Academy High School students and teachers and in a way, it was.

After spending about two months in temporary quarters, Friday was the first day of classes for the new high school in its newly constructed building at 7200 Paluxy Drive.

Spring rains delayed completion of the building in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year last August, and since then the high school has been housed in leased facilities at First Christian Church.

"Today went great," Principal Kathy Parker said after classes convened in the new facility.

"Our students, parents, board and staff worked together to make our temporary location successful and we appreciate the hospitality of First Christian Church and we are very excited to move into our beautiful new high school," Ms. Parker said. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.

The school currently has 169 ninth-graders and will add a grade each year until it serves students through 12th grade. Enrollment at that time is projected at 1,000.

"We are starting new traditions. I like how enthusiastic everybody is about the brand new school," Emily Black, 15, a ninth-grader, said.

"We've been in the church for the past 10 months. I was excited coming to school today. It's definitely a good change. The new building is excellent. It's shinny and new. I like how the classes are laid out and where everything is," Matthan Giles, 14, said.

The first phase of construction consisted of a $9.8 million, 50,000-square-foot two-story building, including a classroom wing, cafeteria and gymnasium.

Construction of the 31,000-square-foot, second phase classroom wing, estimated to cost between $8 million and $9 million, will start in 2016. Phase III will be a 950-seat performing arts center with a full competition stage.

Cumberland Academy is a public, tuition-free charter school. It started as a private elementary school founded Dr. Jim Cotton and Mrs. Cotton about 20 years ago but was turned into a charter school in 1998. Later it expanded to include a middle school and this year began a high school.

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