CLINTON — There were no trees or candy canes but there was a definite sense of Christmas in the air on Wednesday as students not so patiently waited to collectively open one big present — their new school.

According to Clinton School District Superintendent Randy Clegg, architects gave final approval on Jefferson Elementary School last week and the keys have been officially handed over to the school district.

The move hopefully will be completed by the end of the month.

Jefferson students have watched the construction of their new school for well over a year. Most of the Jefferson staff members have had the opportunity to tour the new facility and on Wednesday students got their turn, Principal Michelle Pearson said.

With big eyes and mouths agape, Brenda Dieckmann’s third-grade class could hardly contain the excitement.

“I feel like fainting already,” one student commented. “This is awesome.”

When the kids got their first look at their new classroom, Dieckmann changed from teacher to mother and told the kids not to scuff the new floor. Many students ran directly to the big windows that overlook the playground while others couldn’t believe that they actually had a drinking fountain in their classroom.

As the class headed back down the hall, Dieckmann put her name in the designated place on the wall.

Dieckmann said it has been a very long wait.

“We’ve been watching it grow and build and just kept waiting and waiting to get inside,” she said.

She thinks the best part is the kids are excited and there is so much more space, with the gym, the library and the art room.

“The kids have not had these advantages before,” she said.

Dieckmann has been teaching in the old Jefferson school for 23 years.

Title I instructor Mary Jo Lennon is a transplant from Whittier Elementary School. She thinks the new building is awesome.

She remembers the first time she walked into Whittier after it had been remodeled and opened to students in 1999.

“What a beautiful building it was, but this tops it all. I think the kids are just thrilled to be finally realizing that they will soon be in the new building,” she said.

The students were in awe of the new music room with all the light from the floor- to-ceiling windows and closed their eyes when they walked into the gym because they wanted it to be a big surprise.

Brady Gallagher has always attended school at Jefferson. She thinks her new school is great. The first thing she noticed was she could see the playground from her classroom window. She hopes her desk will be by the windows.

Amani Larson had an ear-to-ear smile on his face. He loved the building from his first step in the front door.

“The first thing I noticed was the drinking fountain in the room,” he said.

He plans on helping his teacher make the move.

Pearson says it has been a long wait but now that the time has come she and her staff are thinking that “we should have been throwing things out for the last two years. Now that it is a reality, it is almost not a reality. It’s almost to beautiful for us to be in.”

She describes the building as amazing. “Every part of the building is beautiful.” Person says this will be a very positive move for the kids.

“This will give them room to spread out hoping this will be the biggest advantage we have,” she explained.

There will be a big community celebration for the new building in the future. Pearson said community organizations are already booking the building for special events and tournaments

“That’s what we built it for. We built it for everyone,” she said.

According to Pearson, the Jefferson kids have never been in anything brand new.

“That’s anything brand new anywhere. Their houses aren’t brand new, our old building is not brand new, the places they go aren’t brand new. They thought the building smelled like a new car. They are ready to go. They could move that building all by themselves today,” she said.

Fourth-grader Jackkar Kyseth summed it up best. “This is so beautiful. When I grow up my kids are gonna love going here.”