QUINCY — Natalie Blackorby walked into her third-grade classroom at Sarah Atwater Denman Elementary School and quickly got to work.
She sorted school supplies into bins and stashed the rest in her cubby before hanging her backpack on a hook to be ready for the start of school, pausing only for a quick hello to her new teachers, Julie Vahle and Melissa Klauser.
Tuesday's Meet the Teacher Night gave students and families a first look at the brand-new Sarah Atwater Denman Elementary School, slated to open Thursday along with Thomas S. Baldwin Elementary School.
"This is an opportunity for our students to meet their teacher, lose some of those first-day jitters, bring their school supplies, find out who's in their class and just kind of get acquainted with the new building," Principal Chrissy Cox said. "We haven't had our building dedication, because we really wanted to involve students in that, so this is the first time they really got to see the whole building."
Excitement for the school year was evident from Cox's warm welcome to students and families just inside the front door to the buzz of conversation in classrooms as teachers met students, students picked desks and cubbies and parents checked out the classroom technology.
"I like it. I really like it. I like the way it's all set up, too," said Breanne Bainter, who has a fifth-grade daughter Lashaya and a first-grade son Brandon.
"It's really nice," said Tonya Blackorby, Natalie's mom. "It's better than what we ever had."
First-grader Ethan Messmer thought the gym was awesome.
"It's very modern," said Ethan's mom, Jody Messmer. "I think it's going to be a really great place for them to learn. It's going to be a good year."
First-grade teacher Belynda Bernzen said the night was a positive way to start the year.
"I hope they see the excitement, especially being in a new building, a new classroom," she said. "It eases them in. They get to see who I am before school starts."
Denman literacy coach Hilary Morriss already was familiar with the building, but she snapped photos as her son Mark, a first-grader, got to take in his classroom.
"He's been excited about it all summer, having a brand-new building to be in," Morriss said. "I think everybody's excited for the year."
The two K-5 buildings are the last of five new elementary schools built in Quincy as part of an $89 million referendum, passed in 2014, which also funded an addition and renovations at Quincy High School.
A formal grand opening for Denman School is planned for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.
In the meantime, Denman is ready to welcome its students and families.
"We still have things to do, but that's what this building is for," Cox said. "It's for our kids."