School doesn’t start until Wednesday, but at noontime on Friday a few students got to take a sneak peek at the new Stanton Academy — and they liked what they saw.

Exclamations of “Cool!” and “This is so exciting!” filled the halls as the handful of seniors and leadership students visited the almost-finished, 49,000-square-foot, $12.6 million school on River Road. It replaces the out-dated and cramped building that Stanton had occupied in Union Gap.

Stanton is an alternative high school in the Yakima School District.

“I think this is just unbelievable,” said Associated Student Body president Christina Vela, 19. “It’s awesome. I felt overwhelmed as soon as I hit the parking lot, just full of smiles. I can’t wait for school to start already. I can’t wait to see the other kids’ reaction.”

Ten students were invited on the tour, led by business communication teacher Holli Wolcott and principal Clinton Endicott, who demonstrated how the tables in the commons area fold in half to form benches.

Students also marvelled at the size of classrooms and computer screens, integrated technology, and other features, like the cooking lab with colorful KitchenAid mixers, visual communications classroom with a green screen for video production and childcare center with seperate areas for infants and toddlers.

“When I first walked in, like pretty much, it was ‘Wow!’” said 18-year-old senior Shane Gillett. “I wasn’t expecting as much. You see the outside and how nice it is and it makes you want to go inside. ... Once you get in, the classrooms are a lot bigger, and we have new technology.”

Watching Gillett try out an interactive, computerized boxing game in the fitness center, the principal whispered, “I still can’t believe what we have.

“We did a lot for a lot of years in pretty substandard facilities for high school students.”

Now, Endicott said, “We are just thrilled.”