Students, staff members and alumni cheered "Take it down!" as a demolition claw began hacking away at a two-story classroom building at Highlands High School Thursday morning.

It was the climax of a ceremony -- complete with cheerleaders and a drum line -- held to kick off a $65.7 million overhaul of the San Antonio Independent School District campus.

“I’m excited,” said Gabriela Garces, a freshman at the Southeast Side school. “I can’t wait until it’s all built up.”

Plans call for replacing the five-decades-old building with a three-story, state-of-the-art facility geared toward Highlands’ STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, magnet program.

"So we'll have some engineering and technology labs, which we're very excited about. We've got some new partnerships going with that. We'll have an indoor/outdoor cafeteria," said Lorna Klockkenga, the school’s principal.

Also included in the plans is a two-story fine arts building, dance studio with hardwood floors, as well as other renovations and embellishments, according to an SAISD news release.

The project is being funded by the school district’s 2010 bond issue.

While it signals progress for the school, letting go of old memories is difficult for some people.

"It's crazy to think that the school that I've been in for four years is going to be knocked down,” said Elijah Garces, a senior at Highlands.

But he admits that the new building will be a lot nicer and much more pleasant for students who come after him.

The construction is expected to be completed in about three years.

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