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      Ottumwa's Liberty Elementary open for learning

      Liberty Elementary is open for the school year.

      With the cutting of a ribbon, Liberty Elementary was open for learning Wednesday, Ottumwa's first new school in 40 years.

      "It's what we've been waiting for for a year now, ever since we started construction and moving dirt, envisioning our students arriving and getting into classrooms and learning taking place, so it's exciting," said Davis Eidahl, Superintendent of the Ottumwa School District.

      Liberty's teachers had spent days and weeks before the official start to the school year getting their classrooms ready, but seeing the kids walk into the building for the first time added to the excitement.

      "It's just awesome, kids were just coming in all together and we had them all in the gym and everybody was helping each other and everybody's excited to be here, the teachers, the kids, the parents -- everybody," said fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Van Nest. "It's just been great."

      The first day of school always brings some nerves, but for the first day in a brand-new building, everything went extremely smoothly.

      "I think it's been going extremely well, considering the number of students that we have to move in and out," said Liberty Principal Dawn Sievertsen. "We had a great, organized system for the gym this morning, had 500-plus students seated on the floor, waiting for their teachers to show up at 8:05 and it seemed to be really well understood and the kids did a great job of listening, so we got off to a great start, got everybody where they needed to be."

      Traffic was a sticking point, as parents and buses learn the layout of the school, but that's to be expected in a new building.

      "We ran into some hitches, not all the desks have arrived and, you know, traffic was an issue for the first time today, but all the excitement has carried us through all those barriers and we'll get through them and it's an exciting day for Ottumwa," Eidahl said.

      "To be in such a state-of-the-art facility just means that a lot of the roadblocks to our education are out of the way, we don't have an facility issues to worry about, temperature's great, atmosphere is great and we just looking forward to a wonderful school year here at Liberty Elementary and I hope that we get our parents and our students as excited about the building as we are," Sievertsen said.

      If you'd like to see the new building for yourself, Liberty Elementary is holding an open house and another ribbon cutting for the public on Thursday, September 5 from 5-7 p.m.