ANACORTES — Students in Anacortes High School teacher Pilar Burkland’s advisory class started their school year Thursday morning on a patio with sweeping views of Fidalgo Bay.

“We can watch the sunrise,” sophomore Allie Perez said. “How cool is that? It definitely makes getting up early easier.”

Thursday marked not only the first day of a new school year, but the opening of the new Anacortes High School.

“There’s this buzz that I’ve never experienced before as an educator,” Principal Jon Ronngren said as he helped students find their classrooms in the new two-story building.

The bright, open building is the highlight of the district’s three-phase, nearly $87 million high school project, which will feature 60 percent new construction and 40 percent reconstruction.

With deep purples and blues, the building is designed to embrace the history of the Anacortes Seahawks and the area’s maritime heritage.

“It looks like a college campus,” Perez said. “I feel like I’m much older than I am here. It’s more sophisticated.”

The district is hoping the more modern design and improved safety features will make students feel ready to achieve.

“It allows us to press the reset button,” senior Gabby Ronngren said. “New relationships, new ways to do things, and new learning opportunities. It’s a place that respects students.”

Gabby Ronngren, a member of the LINK crew, said that while the surroundings were new, students were quickly adapting to their new building.

“It took a few days to get used to, but we’ll make new memories here,” she said. “It’ll be good.”

Completion of the high school building is the second of three phases of the project.

Construction on the new Rice Field was completed at the beginning of school in 2017, and reconstruction of the gym, Career and Technical Education building and Brodniak Hall is scheduled to be finished next year.

In the meantime, students participating in classes such as band and choir will have to walk to Anacortes Middle School, and P.E. will be held on the new field.

“Kids will have no problem getting their 10,000 steps in,” Assistant Principal Erik Titus said.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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