PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thursday at the newly renovated Mastery Prep Elementary in North Philadelphia, students got the royal treatment with the blue carpet rolled out and all.
"I think it's really nice. I think it's really nicely renovated. It's going to give our kids a fresh start to the New Year," said Jonathon Matos of Nicetown.
Jayce Matos added, "I feel good and I feel really great to my new school."
True, it is the first day of school for all 14,000 Mastery students at the 24 Charter Schools, but for these first and second graders, it's also the grand opening of what was formerly Gillespie Middle School.
The tuition-free public charter closed its doors for 6 years as 10 million dollars' worth of renovations were performed. With the building nearly a century old, the cafeteria and gym got much-needed updates, classrooms are also noticeably larger and brighter.
Principal, Mastery Prep Elementary Raymond Fields said, "Just the amount of work that has gone into the space is just a space and a learning environment to welcome our kids in so that they can access their full potential."
Shawna Furman of North Philadelphia said, "I hear a lot about Mastery and they're doing a lot in Philadelphia and New Jersey and I wanted to see what they can do to help my son."
"It looks like it's going to be hands-on and that's the important part. This is my last one so it's got to be great," added Sheelah Johnson of North Philadelphia.
One of the cool new areas of this school are these open spaces. This is where students get to take part in an interest of their choice like yoga, mindfulness or African dance, the school is calling this time enrichment blocks.
Instructional Leader Tyenise Young said, "We know that students are going to have the best, our students deserve the best and we are going to ensure that our students have the best so they need all the tools provided in order to help them be successful."
For now, the school serves students in grades kindergarten through second. But it will grow each year to grade 6.
Students will then go on to Mastery's Gratz Prep Middle and Gratz High School which are both on the same block.
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