If other schools were the jealous type, they might whisper "she's had some work done" behind the back of the recently prettied-up Amphitheater Middle School.

Fresh from a $7.2 million renovation, the school was looking its best when classes resumed Aug. 8.

"The students, parents and teachers were very excited. They wanted to see the new renovations," Principal Tassi Call said on the first day of school. "They were so excited. We could watch the kids' faces light up as they got to walk into new parts of the building."

The school, at 315 E. Prince Road, will show off its new look at an open house at 2 p.m. Aug. 22.

Here's a rundown of the renovations and additions:

• The front office, kitchen, gym and library have been remodeled and renovated.

• A new teacher workroom, health office, classroom building and computer lab were built.

• Classrooms were modernized with SMART Boards - computer-friendly, digital replacements for whiteboards.

• Cabling throughout campus has been upgraded.

• Security fencing was installed around campus.

Face-lifts are nothing new for the school. When crews were removing a cement wall, they found a wooden time capsule encased in concrete containing a letter dated Jan. 1, 1940, that detailed the funding of that year's renovation. A replica of the letter was placed on a bronze plaque and displayed in the front office.

The original school bell, dated 1920, was restored and placed in a tower above the front office. The campus, first known as Amphitheater School, was built in 1913.

There are other nostalgic touches in the renovation. The gym, which Amphitheater Unified School District Associate Superintendent Monica Nelson said will be used as a community gathering place, includes wood on its walls donated by the University of Arizona from the old Bear Down Gymnasium.

Other changes are functional. The medical office, for instance, now allows outside access for emergency vehicles, and the gym - which had always relied on swamp cooling - has air conditioning.

"It can serve as a community hub now," Nelson said.

The project is part of a 2007 bond measure. Voters approved a $180 million bond to build new instructional structures and renovate existing schools. Each of the district's 20 campuses is slated to receive some of the funds, but older campuses that needed more improvements were given more attention.

"Being able to have major renovations and major upgrades on the campus is incredible," Nelson said. "The community is thrilled about the changes that have come about."

Amphi Middle is one of the schools that received the most work. The school was able to replace six portable classrooms with a new brick-and-mortar structure, and classes with retractable walls were given permanent walls with electrical wiring and outlets.

"Kids who are coming back are excited about the renovations, and we're confident that they will help their learning environment," Nelson said.

If you go

• What: Amphitheater Middle School Open House.

• When: 2 p.m. Aug. 22.

• Where: Amphitheater Middle School, 315 E. Prince Road.

• Admission: Free.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com