HOLIDAY — Skyler Settles got a first look at her new high school Tuesday.
She liked what she saw.
"It's really nice," Skyler, a sophomore, said as she toured Anclote High School, Pasco County's newest high school, which sits in the shadow of a Progress Energy plant along the Anclote River. "I really like how it's set up."
From the central courtyard for students to "hang out" to the career-centered labs to the high-tech classrooms, Anclote High impressed the former Gulf High student. And she wasn't alone.
Students, parents and community members by the dozens took a "sneak peek" at the school Tuesday morning. Administrators provided guided tours, showing off all the bells and whistles that comprised what they called the "crown jewel of Holiday."
The school, which reuses the design of Sunlake High School in Land O'Lakes, still had that new carpet and freshly cut wood smell. The books had yet to arrive in the library. Some of the desks remained in crates.
But finishing touches aside, the school got mostly approving nods from the visitors.
"It's beautiful," said Mary Moss, whose son B.J. enters the ninth grade this month. "Everybody likes a new school. You see all the technology."
At other schools, Moss said, not every teacher has a smart board, a digital projector, wireless Internet access and the many other features that are common throughout Anclote.
"It's cool," said junior Angel Tlanepantla after watching the school's technology specialist demonstrate some of the offerings. "It's pretty tight, technology-wise."
Renee Shelton, a transition services coordinator for the Pace School for Girls, came to check out the school for her students who might be moving from the alternative center.
"We decided it's kind of like a community college," said Shelton, who took copious notes to bring back to Pace. "I think it might be bigger than mine."
Sophomore Emily Jenkins agreed the school was big, but deemed it a good big.
"This is a confusing school," she said, as she walked through the series of connected buildings with similar color patterns. "It won't be a month after school (starts), but since it's all new, it's confusing."
"I don't know how I'm going to tell the difference between buildings," chimed in her sister, Sara Jenkins, a junior.
Of course, the visitors had questions. They asked about lockers, parking spaces, even the rumor the school will have a fishing class. (Not true, although it will have an outdoors club.)
Some neighbors still worry that the county hasn't installed a traffic light at Anclote Boulevard and Alt. U.S. 19, saying the increased traffic is bound to generate accidents. But they came away pleased with what they saw otherwise at the school, which opens for classes on Aug. 24.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.