Ariana Morneau, 7, gives high-fives to her new classmates during a tour Monday of Robert V. Connors Elementary School in Lewiston. The second-grader from Martel Elementary School will be a third-grader when she and her Martel classmates join students from Gov. James B. Longley Elementary School at the new Connors later this summer. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

LEWISTON — Many students and teachers used the same word — “amazing” — as they toured Robert V. Connors Elementary School on Monday morning.

Walking from their old schools — Martel Elementary School on the left and Gov. James B. Longley Elementary School to the right — the two student bodies merged into one as they met for a brief rally outside their new school. They then toured Connors Elementary, seeing its 143,000 square feet and 76 classrooms for the first time. 

School Resource Officer Ken Strout of the Lewiston Police Department gets a hug Monday from Joanna Mwangaza, 8, as students from Gov. James B. Longley Elementary Schools walk to their new school, Robert V. Connors Elementary School. Strout will be assigned to the new elementary school for the 2019-20 school year. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

Students wore matching “Connors Dragons” T-shirts, with the mascot done in school colors: blue and green.

“I want to welcome you to Connors School,” said Charlotte Nile, standing on a post and holding a megaphone. Nile is assistant principal at Martel, and will be one of two assistant principals at Connors when it opens in the fall.

“We are so excited to have this special day together,” Nile said, then passing the megaphone to Sarah Rent, assistant principal at Longley, who will be the other assistant principal at Connors.

“Welcome Connors Dragons!” she said to cheers and applause. “I can’t believe we are here! Look at this place! As you look around today, realize you deserve this place.”

Tree Street founder Julia Sleeper introduced a group of student leaders to build school spirit. In unison, the group gave a welcoming chant: “Connors Dragons! We are brave. Welcome to our brand new cave. We are dragons. We are strong. In unity we all belong!”

The leaders led students as they chanted like a champion sports team: “Connors, Connors, Connors. …”

As the students entered the building in line and by grade, their excitement obvious, many simply said, “Wow!”

They saw the bright colors, clean and shiny open spaces in the lobby, gym, library, art room, music room, cafeteria, classrooms and playgrounds.

Longley student Farah Mohamed, 11, said his new school is “amazing and huge.”

Magsud Hared, a kindergarten student from Gov. James B. Longley Elementary School in Lewiston, makes a wish Monday before adding her rock to the collection outside the new Robert V. Connors Elementary School. Each student from Longley and Martel Elementary school painted a rock for the rock garden that will be put outside the new Connors Elementary School. Magsud wished she could fly.  Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

Zainad Saibil, 12,  said when she walked in, she thought: “I wish I lived in this place. It’s nice, it’s pretty and it’s big.”

“I love it here,” said Martel student Connor McPherson.

Teacher Haddie Larry said she is delighted with how the school turned out. A fifth-grade teacher, Longley was hired last year when the school was under construction. She said she doubted it would be built on time.

“But they proved us wrong,” she said. “I’m impressed.”

The new Robert V. Connors Elementary School in Lewiston will open for the 2019-20 school year. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

She said Connors “will be a million times better” than what Martel and Longley students now have, adding her classroom is now in a trailer.

The new school offers much more space and the latest technology, including interactive whiteboards in classrooms.

Abdullahi Abdi, language facilitator and soccer coach, said the new school “is fantastic.”

“It’s huge,” he said. “This school is equipped with everything: the classes, the gym. It will be easier to learn.”

During an exercise to help youngsters meet new classmates, Martel and Longley students sat in circles, introduced themselves and shared what they liked about the school. Several said they were excited about having an art room. Others were happy about the roomy library and the new gym.

As the tour ended, first-graders saw the second-grade classrooms that will be theirs in this fall.

“Look at the smart board guys. Isn’t that awesome!” said Martel teacher Joni O’Malley, as her students looked impressed. “I love it.”

Connors Elementary, named for the late Superintendent Robert V. Connors, was built with $45.8 million in state funding and $2.1 million from Lewiston taxpayers.

It was built for 880 students in grades pre-K through six. Enrollment this fall is expected to be about 750 students.

The first day of school is Aug. 28.

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Students from Martel and Gov. James B. Longley Elementary schools gather Monday outside the new Robert V. Connors Elementary School for the first time. Students from both Martel and Langley will attend Connors for the 2019-20 school year. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover