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Venice High students return to fully-rebuilt school

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VENICE, Fla. -- After more than four years of construction, Venice High School students returned to a complete campus on Monday…almost.

The school has undergone a more than $90 million rebuild, wrapping up with the latest tweaks to a multi-million dollar performing arts center.  More new classrooms were being used for the first time Monday at Venice High.

"I have waited my whole life for this building. I was born and raised in Venice." After years of construction, music teacher and department chair Stephen Johns is excited about the new digs in the Performing Arts Center. "They built a campus on top of a working campus. Unthinkable, and they did it so well."

Gone now are all of the 50-year-old classrooms on a sprawling campus. The center is the last phase of the entire $95 million rebuild.

Principal Jack Turgeon says while classrooms inside the center are being used, the performing arts hall is still under wraps as the last pieces of technology are being put in. "This is really what we have been referring to as the icing on the cake. The campus has come together."

There is still some construction going on as students return. All current students there have known nothing but construction. "The seniors have been through three years of heavy construction, coming back to a new school each year -- a new building…a lot to navigate around."

“They rerouted the whole school so it was kind of tough to get around." Senior Bobby Pinkerton says overall it hasn't been that bad, and kind of fun to see the new campus come together. "I think it's great that I was a part of it, and seeing it go from it all being outside to the way it is now."

The $15 million price tag of the performing arts center was actually split 50/50 with the City of Venice. Outside groups like the Venice Symphony will be putting on shows inside it.

Many are thankful the time has come. "It's magnificent, and I thank everybody that provided us with it for our community and our school, and our students."

A grand opening of the performing arts center is scheduled for November 6th.

My name is Scott.