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WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – In West, high school students held what looked and sounded like a homecoming‎. After all, they want to come home.

Freshman cheerleader Lorelei Uttmore is among those who celebrated their soon-to-be built West High School and Middle School under one roof. “‎It’s more than a building,” she said. “It’s a new beginning it’s having everyone come together as a family.”

The new campus will cost between $50 and $55 million. Construction is set to begin in a couple of weeks. Until it opens in August, 2016, middle and high school students will remain in temporary buildings.

Thursday’s groundbreaking was a stark contrast to the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked the town to its core a year and a half ago, killing 15 people.

Uttmore said, “One of my friends lost his dad and it was very, very sad.”

Educators like Dr. Jan Hundgate will tell you the students have earned ‎an “A” on this life lesson. “Every single day, they bless us with their strength, and I think they’ve been stronger than many adults in this community. They’ve been resilient.”

Margie Davis and her family once farmed on this land. “Oh yeah, this was my playground when I was a little girl. It means a whole lot to me that they’re breaking ground here like my great grandparents did back in the 1800’s.”

They often say in West “We will rise up” — and they did so again Thursday.

Looking at all of the displays of celebration during the groundbreaking, Uttmore said, “It means a victory… those balloons mean we have come this far. We did it.”

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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