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SEB impressive though not complete
080107 1ST DAY 1
Tia Rawls, 16, shouts hello over her shoulder to friends while getting situated at her new locker during the first day at Southeast Bulloch High School. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Southeast Bulloch High School teacher Kent Brannen is impressed with the new school.
    "It's like moving from the Norris Hotel to the Ritz-Carlton," he said Wednesday morning as students arrived for the first day of a new school year. "When everything is fully functioning, it's going to be an awesome place to teach."
    There are still a few things that need to be taken care of for the school. For example, students had to eat their lunch at their desks on Wednesday as the tables for the lunchroom hadn't been set up yet. That was expected to be fixed by today.
    Also, the gymnasium hasn't been completed yet. Charles Wilson, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said that was expected to be completed within 30 days.
    Wilson said things went well across the county as approximately 9,000 students went to the first day of class. Even with construction going on at some schools, Wilson stressed that the students safety and instruction time would not be an issue.
    "We're separating the students from the workers and have certain guidelines that are being communicated to the teachers and students and also the contractors and workers," he said. "We under a zero tolerance policy."
    Wilson credited the custodial staffs for having everything ready to go for Wednesday.
    "If you walked in (Tuesday) and then walked in (Wednesday), you'd be amazed at the difference," he said. "The custodial staff has done an incredible job."
    "There's been a lot of anxiety building up to today," he said. "But with a lot of hard work and effort from the teachers, architects, contractors and community, everything came together well."
    Tom McClwee was supervising the student drop off point at SEB and said things were going smoothly.
    "It's a learning process, but I think they're doing a super job so far," he said.
    Brooklet Police and Bulloch County Sheriff's Deputies were directing traffic, which was backed up at times, but not for long periods of time.
    Fran Stevens, acting principal at Southeast Bulloch, said things came together "unbelievably smoothly" over the past few days to have the building open for classes Wednesday, even if it meant some inconvenience for some teachers.
    For two days, teachers had to do their preplanning work at other schools, but they did what they could, Stevens said.
    "It has been difficult to be able to pull this all together," she said.
    Phil Oliver, who has taught at SEB for more than 20 years, said it was a humbling experience to walk into the new building.
    "It's also kind of sad. You see piles of rubble from the old building that was there for more than 50 years and you hop this will be still standing at least that long," he said.
    Oliver said more than the new building, it's the community that makes the school what it is.
    "We had volunteers come up to set up the library and had parents volunteering to help. The entire SEB community pulled together to get this done."
    An SEB 11th grader said the new building was going to be nice once it's completed, but until then it'll be an inconvenience
    "We can't even eat lunch in the lunch room," she said.
    Names of students weren't used as a consent form for parents to sign allowing their names to be used in the press hadn't been sent home yet.
    Even though there were a few issues, the student said she would rather be in the new building rather than the old one.
    Another student, a 10th grader, said she liked the facility, saying it was a good size for the students at the school.
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