First-grader Easton Anderson didn't need directions to get to class at the new John T. White Elementary when the school year kicked off Monday.
Unlike most of his classmates, who were crisscrossing hallways looking for their homerooms, Easton had visited the east Fort Worth school this month and knew exactly where to go.
"It's a cool school," said Easton, 6, who attended a dedication this summer. "I even got a piece of the ribbon from the ceremony that I kept."
New schools opened in the Carroll, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Fort Worth, Keller and Mansfield school districts. Two more will open today when the Northwest district has its first day of classes, and Everman will open a new sixth-grade center Wednesday.
At the new Hollenstein Career and Technology Center in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw district, juniors starting in the cosmetology program set up mannequin heads and practiced braiding hair. Others sat on the salon floor, unpacking supplies such as nail polish and pink pedicure flip-flops.
"It looks like a real salon. This will help me get used to the real salon environment," said Boswell High senior Tiera White, 17, who is in her second year in the program.
The two-year program has a classroom and a working salon, with stations for hairstyling, facials, manicures and pedicures. It is among several career-oriented programs the center offers.
Fort Worth district
Five new schools opened in the Fort Worth district: White and Rosemont elementary schools, Benbrook and Jean McClung middle schools and the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences, a specialty high school.
White, Rosemont, McClung and Benbrook were built under a 2007 bond program and include environmentally friendly features such as geothermal heating and cooling.
The biomedical school opened in the former Middle Level Learning Center campus, which was renovated with about $1.1 million in bond money.
Costs for the four new schools totaled $92.3 million.
Officials had planned to open Rosemont Elementary as a joint venture with the city, combining the school with a community center at Rosemont Park. But backlash from the community halted that idea, and some discord in the neighborhood still lingers.
But the school built next to the middle school is one the neighborhood can be proud of, interim school Superintendent Walter Dansby said.
"It's an absolutely gorgeous site plan where it is, and it can still serve as a hub for the community," said Dansby, who was at White Elementary welcoming students Monday morning.
Hundreds of students arrived at White, and some families were obviously frustrated trying to find classroom assignments. But the Moore family kept calm.
Joseph Moore navigated from the cafeteria to the third-grade hallway with his youngest, Patrice, hoping his fourth- and fifth-graders would find their own way to class.
"It's a little hectic, but it's the first day at a new school," he said. "Everyone will figure it out soon enough."
Keller and Arlington
The new Ridgeview Elementary in far north Keller has environmentally friendly features including a geothermal mechanical system and solar panels. Architects used the campus's sloping landscape to create an amphitheater.
"It's a highly efficient building," said Hudson Huff, the district's director of planning and construction.
It's the 12th consecutive year that the district has opened a new school, but it's the first school to open in the city of Keller since 2000. Most of the district's 39 campuses are in Fort Worth.
Arlington did not have a new school, but Lamar and Seguin high schools opened with additions. Arlington High's extensive kitchen and cafeteria expansion doubled the lunchroom's serving capacity.
Bob Carlisle, executive director of plant services, said his employees were kept busy with little problems -- mostly air conditioners that left individual rooms a little uncomfortable, he said.
"We've got a hot kitchen and a hot gym. We've got some temporary buildings that have some problems, but those are hard to keep cool in this weather," he said. "They're basically little metal boxes."
Staff writers Jessamy Brown, Robert Cadwallader, Martha Deller and Sandra Engelland contributed to this report.
Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700