To the skirl of the pipes, pupils took their first steps through the doors of the new £55 million home of Inverurie Academy.
The Inverurie Community Campus was originally planned to open to both residents and pupils in spring, only for the pandemic to significantly delay construction.
But today, pupils from Inverurie Academy were welcomed to their new home within the site with a socially-distanced ceremony, complete with a bagpiper.
Youngsters with additional support needs who attend the St Andrew’s School will officially move into their new school within the campus building next month.
Hannah Reid, a 16-year-old sixth year pupil at Inverurie Academy, said she can’t wait to start classes in her new school.
The keen trumpet player said the new facilities will be better for those studying music, like her.
“It’s absolutely amazing-looking,” Hannah said.
“It’s massive and has so many facilities. I’m very excited about it.
“The new auditorium looks amazing and there’s so much new stuff in the gym and I think the new auditorium and the music lesson rooms look a lot bigger and better than the older ones.”
“The old school was lovely, although a bit old, but it doesn’t compare to the new school.” Hannah added: “Learning has been a bit different in the pandemic. It’s not been super-hard, but it’s been different nonetheless.”
Its sports and leisure facilities will be run by Live Life Aberdeenshire, the organisation that operates Aberdeenshire Council’s sporting and cultural services.
Inverurie Academy’s head teacher Mark Jones said: “We feel like we’re opening a new chapter for Inverurie Academy, both in terms of the new facilities and the fact we can share them with community partners like Live Life Aberdeenshire, St Andrew’s School and a number of groups and clubs.
“We bring a huge amount of history and heritage from the old Inverurie Academy, as the old building across the way is over 110 years old, but I’m so excited this group of students and staff will help us start the next chapter.
“There’s a real wow factor to the learning and teaching areas. You name it, from science to sport, there are better opportunities for learning.”
Tara Kennedy, a teacher from the St Andrew’s School, said: “The new facilities are going to be so good for the children.
“The sensory rooms are so much more advanced than what we’ve previously had.
“The old facilities were starting to get a bit old. This will be much more modern and there’s just so much technology in each classroom.
“I think all being together and sharing the facilities, and being truly part of the community and not out on our own, will really be wonderful.”
The council’s education committee chairwoman Gillian Owen, and vice-chairwoman Rosemary Bruce, were among those at the ceremony.
Mrs Owen said: “It’s absolutely remarkable.
“You only have to look at the fantastic building to see how lucky the community is to have this not only as an educational facility, but also as a community campus.
“I think Inverurie residents will just love coming in and having a look.
“The pool will be fantastic for everybody and community groups can use it for their monthly meetings.
Ms Bruce added: “It’s got such brilliant facilities, as you would expect from a modern campus, with the theatre, pool, sports equipment and social spaces for young people as well.
“There’s been an awful lot of downsides from the pandemic for children, so to have a new facility they can move into, that they’ve seen being built up, and actually be inside this week will be just fantastic for them.”