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Students excited as Chesapeake Elementary begins new chapter

Children don't really need a game to play. For them, every step is a game, every slide is an adventure.

They have a gift. They are blessed with the ability to extract magic from the everyday - a gift many adults have lost.

Though they may not be youngsters any more, the staff of the new Chesapeake Elementary School were allowed a little bit of that gift Friday, as they shared with their students the magic of exploring their new home.

Perhaps the day was most wondrous for the kindergarteners who now may think that all schools are spotlessly clean, have towering playgrounds and are bursting with color, most notably that distinctive Panther purple.

As he added to the cafeteria cacophony that often follows the first 10 minutes of lunchtime chowing down, 5-year-old Jaden had a little trouble remembering his last name (it's Kearns) but had no problem expressing his feelings on his new school.

"I like it!" Jaden said before opening his arms wide and adding, "I like the whole class! I like the whole school!"

Jaden's friend, Jacob Martin, 5, had already picked out some of his favorite features.

"I like the playground. I like the gym. I like the cafeteria," Jacob said before a few moments of thought. "I like the hallway."

At the entrance, first-grade teacher Brenda Jeffery guided her class into their new cafeteria as they scooted happily around the round tables that make the room look like a miniature Camelot, with corn dogs standing in for swords.

A 30-year teaching veteran, Jeffery was so excited about the new elementary she came out of a three-year retirement just to be a part of it.

"I love it," Jeffery said. "I love the way it's laid out. I love the colors."

Even grizzled veterans like second-grader Maria Ramey, who waited outside the cafeteria for an empty seat, weren't immune to the building's charms.

"I like it a lot, I think it's going to be really fun," Maria said.

Admittedly, Ramey is relatively easy to please, as one discovers by asking her favorite feature of the building.

"Well, I go upstairs, my classroom's never been upstairs before," Maria said. "That's my favorite thing."

Principal Jack Finch has been getting acquainted with the school for months, but it wasn't until this first day of school that he truly appreciated his favorite thing.

"You can design and collaborate and build, but until the students whom it's purposed for and staff are present, that's when you can really determine the final product - the final result," Finch said.

And what was the result, in Finch's opinion?

"Words cannot describe, words just cannot describe," Finch said with a satisfaction that bordered on reverence. "It exceeds all expectations."