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High school students at the military-run high school on Guam will start two days later than their younger peers, but the older students’ first day should be worth the wait.

The ninth- to 12th-graders will start classes Wednesday in a new $27.5 million school, according to Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools officials on Guam.

The new school puts more computers in classrooms, offers a shooting range for the JROTC and includes home courts and fields for the Panthers sports teams, said Dr. Rita Williams, principal at the school.

“It’s definitely a big change,” Williams said Thursday in a phone interview.

The new school, near U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, will hold this year’s 475 enrolled students, but it can grow to about 550, said Michael Diekmann, superintendent for Guam’s base schools. The previous school was on Nimitz Hill and originally was a military building, Williams said.

Now, teachers and students will have science labs, a counseling center, and a wing for special-needs students that teaches life skills. Some classrooms have sliding walls that double the teaching space, allowing for joint history and English classes, Williams said.

The facility also includes a regulation-size gymnasium, complete with locker rooms, storage and a classroom. Home games at the new football field will have to wait until next year to let the sod settle, she said.

“At the old school, we didn’t have our own fields,” Williams said. “We had to play home games at McCool middle school.” Now, plans for softball and baseball field are in the works, she added.

JROTC also has its own area, complete with a firing range for pellet ammunition, she said.

The school’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Oct. 2.


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