by: Russell Colburn Updated:
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The first day of school brought some changes for students in St. Johns County, where two brand-new schools opened in growing communities.
The first bells of the year rang out Monday in Patriot Oaks Academy in Durbin Creek and Valley Ridge Academy in Nocatee, where parents were impressed with what they saw.
"It's great,” said Rebecca Anderson. “We came in for the tour. The gym is beautiful, the cafeteria, just the whole atmosphere is great."
The construction was also a necessity due to growth in the surrounding communities.
Since the 2011-2012 school year, county enrollment has had a steady increase of about 1,000 students per year, and it continues to grow.
"No bus, the 20 minute ride is gone,” said parent Lori Aliprando. “This is just awesome. It really is. We're so proud to be here."
The county made changes to bus routes to try to make transportation more efficient.
And although students who live within 2 miles of their school have to get there on their own, many aren’t bothered by it.
“I'm in fantasy land here,” said parent Rocky Leary. “This is beautiful. This is a great thing for the kids and there's no stress in the travel.
Both schools are about 150,000 square feet and can hold 1,200 students.