Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Thane stands in the new addition to Lowell School recently.

Franklin and Lowell elementary schools will open their doors Thursday night for an open house where families, students and community members can see the campuses completely rebuilt with funding from a 2015 school bond.

They are the first projects completed with dollars from the $158 million Smart Schools 2020 bond, which was designed to renovate elementary and high school buildings in the district with a focus on modernizing technology and school designs.

Demolition of Franklin and Lowell began shortly after the academic year ended in 2016 and students were temporarily moved to other schools for 2016-17.

Students' families have been invited to attend an open house from 4-6 p.m. Thursday to take a first look at the new Franklin, 1901 S. 10th St. W., and Lowell, 1200 Sherwood St. The events were scheduled before the start of the new school year, in part, so the broader community could also visit the new buildings.

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"These open houses are designed not just as back-to-school nights for those families and students, but for the community to be welcomed and experience what they paid for," Missoula County Public Schools Communications Director Hatton Littman said.

C.S. Porter Middle School also will be hosting its annual back-to-school barbecue Thursday evening for students and families.

While the event is not intended for the community at large, the school is seeking volunteers "to help flip burgers" so teachers and staff can instead spend their time talking with parents and showing students their new classrooms, Littman said.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to call the school's office at 406-542-4060.

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