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Gallatin High School may not be 100% finished, but it’s already coming to life.

Lots of teachers have started moving boxes into their classrooms, students on the basketball, football and volleyball teams have been in the gyms, and the cheerleaders were about to start their practices, Erica Schnee, the new school’s principal, said Thursday.

“Everyone is pretty excited about the new building,” Schnee said. “It’s such a beautiful place, there’s so much natural light. Spirits are high.”

Construction work started in March 2018 on the $93 million school. Bozeman-area voters passed a record $125 million bond issue in 2017 to build the community’s second high school. The goals were to relieve crowding at Bozeman High School, which had grown into the largest high school in the state, and to upgrade the original high school.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Gallatin High School will be held Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. The school is at West Oak Street and Cottonwood Road, in Bozeman’s fast-growing northwest side.

“It’s not done yet, but it’s getting close and closer every day,” Schnee said.

The original goal was for the contractor, Langlas & Associates, to hand over the new school in June, a timetable complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-story classroom building already has a certificate of occupancy from the city, Schnee said, as do the gyms, including the gleaming, 2,500-seat main competition gym. The 750-seat auditorium should wrap up next week.

Orchestra teacher Mike Certalic came in and played his violin from the auditorium stage to test out the acoustics and moveable acoustic panels, Schnee said.

“It’s really a beautiful sound,” she said.

Furniture is being delivered every day, including brightly colored chairs in lime green, red and other colors. Not everything will be blue and black, the school colors.

Walking in the front door into the large student commons “still feels like a construction site,” Schnee said. The spacious room has a wall of windows looking outside to the south. The commons is the hub of the building and the place where students are expected to congregate.

“The commons are beautiful,” Schnee said. “There’s so much light and it’s a great space to be in. It makes it fun and exciting to come to work every day.”

In honor of the school’s Raptors mascot, there are dinosaur footprints in the concrete coming to the main doors and proceeding through the commons to the main gym.

Trees have been planted and sod is already down in front of the school.

Gallatin High will open with more than 900 students in ninth, 10th and 11th grades – seniors are to finish their high school careers at Bozeman High.

It’s too soon to say what will happen when school starts Aug. 31 to cope with the coronavirus, Schnee said. Superintendent Bob Connors plans to announce a decision Aug. 7, based on the latest information on that date. Options include holding some classes online and some in person, breaking students into smaller cohort groups, block scheduling or some mix of options.

“I’m focusing on getting this building up and running, so whatever happens in August, we’ll be ready to go,” Schnee said.

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.

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