It’s a new school year at Druid Hills High — one marked by no sewage spills, more functioning air conditioning and other repairs that made the first day of classes feel exciting, students said Monday.

In some ways, it’s a big shift from recent months, when some students posted a video on social media to expose disturbing conditions inside the aging school.

“I think this is the best first day I’ve ever experienced,” said senior and student body president Darion Frazier. “I was so surprised. Everything was, like, perfect.”

He and junior Shanti Rodriguez-Pedraza noticed that the floors were gleaming. Missing ceiling tiles were replaced. More bathrooms were open. The air conditioning was out in one of Rodriguez-Pedraza’s classes, but they were quickly able to move to a cooler room.

“Students were eating lunch outside. Sewage wasn’t spewing out of the sewers.” Frazier said. “It was a very good first day.”

These steps forward for the Atlanta campus were hard-earned.

Druid Hills High students Darion Frazier and Shanti Rodriguez-Pedraza noticed some changes at their campus on the first day of school.

Credit: Photo provided by Shanti Rodriguez-Pedraza

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Credit: Photo provided by Shanti Rodriguez-Pedraza

The state intervened last school year over the DeKalb County School District’s handling of the maintenance at Druid Hills High, after students publicized problems with the conditions. The school board was reluctant to approve major updates to the school, but eventually had to green-light the renovations to obtain state funding for that and other projects. It also continues to work with a special advisor from the Georgia Department of Education on updating Druid Hills High and other maintenance and facilities issues.

Over the summer, the district began work on a list of immediate needs at Druid Hills High identified by the state as part of its corrective action plan. That plan included repairing roofs and a sewer line and addressing air conditioning issues at the school.

The modernization of Druid Hills High will cost an estimated $50 million. The work will include updates to heating and air conditioning systems, roofing and plumbing. That process is slated to begin in September.

“I’m excited to see how much better the building gets over the years while I’m still here,” student body vice president Rodriguez-Pedraza said Monday afternoon, after seeing how the campus has already improved. “I’m optimistic.”

One of interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley’s first tasks when she was hired in late April was to address lingering facilities problems. An initial assessment found more than 1,400 immediate needs at the district’s high schools — ranging from major roof repairs or tree removals to new paint jobs or light replacements.

“We’re made quite a bit of leeway with that over summer,” Tinsley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “but these problems did not occur overnight and so some of them will take a little longer to address.”