As the school bells ring in LeMars on Gehlen Catholic's first day of class, students and staff realize the closing of one high school is the beginning of a new educational family.
And changing schools senior year is a lot easier when you get to bring along 50 classmates.
"Some people are having challenges, like trying to find out where they are, and trying to get to know all the teachers and get used to them and everything, but it's gonna get a lot better," Senior Rebecca Feller, and former Spalding student, said.
Thursday marks the first day of school at Gehlen Catholic High School in LeMars, and the first day of their merger with Spalding Catholic, originally located in Granville. The shrinking class size at Spalding forced the school to close and combine with the Catholic school to the south. The students at Gehlen say they're excited to see some new faces.
"It's really interesting, because you get to meet new friends and you get to see new faces every day, so it'll be nice to get to know all of these people," Corey Sitzmann, Gehlen High senior said.
Students weren't the only ones who had to move locations. Judy Stokesberry taught at Spalding for 32 years before the merger. While the change came as a bit of a shock, she believes it was for the best.
"I think it's great for the Spalding kids, because we were so small at the end that not everybody had a niche to fit into," she said.
Joining a larger school has created opportunities that a smaller school just couldn't offer.
"They can be active in lots of different activities that maybe we couldn't have anymore, since we were so small," Stokesberry said.
While the merging of these two schools and the transition to this facility may not have been the original plan, most believe it was the right choice, and are simply excited for the opportunity for continued education.
"It's been a lot of fun, seeing all the Spalding kids again, and seeing them already start to become a part of Gehlen. And it's fun for me, because I wasn't ready to stop teaching yet," Stokesberry said.
Spalding's pre-k through 2nd graders go to school in Alton. The 3rd through 8th graders go to school in Granville.
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