ODELL - Diller-Odell Public Schools start classes Thursday.

When students and staff come back to the high school in Odell, they’ll get to enjoy a highly anticipated addition to their building. A project that’s been in the works for several years is nearly finished.

Diller-Odell broke ground on a brand new gymnasium nearly a year ago, replacing the current one, which is over 60 years old.

"We welcome everyone to come out and visit the new facility once it's open," superintendent Michael Meyerle said. "I think they'll really have a great venue to come to games for years to come."

The new gym cost around $4.9 million. The project also includes newly renovated office space near the main entrance, improved parking and new locker rooms.

Griffins’ athletic director Eric McMurray told NCN earlier this year that he hopes the bigger, newer gym will allow Diller-Odell to host some postseason games and tournaments.

"If we could host subdistricts and district finals, that would be great," he said. "I'm very willing to do stuff like that, so we're hoping that's what that brings around."

Diller-Odell will host the semifinal and championship games for the Pioneer Conference basketball tournament this winter.

The gym isn’t completely finished yet. Crews are still putting on the final touches. Meyerle estimates it’ll be open for everyone by next week, including the Griffins’ volleyball team, who will get to play their first match in the new gym on Sept. 10 against Falls City Sacred Heart.

"We're very excited to get out of the (old gym)," volleyball head coach Kandice Jurgens said. "We'll no longer have to hear 'new gym' every time the ball hits the ceiling every other play. I think it's going to bring a lot of excitement to the girls and the community.

"We're going to miss this place, but I'm ready for the new gym," senior Mackenzie Vitosh said.

"It's going to be awesome," said junior Addison Heidemann. "We're so excited."

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