ST. LOUIS ( -- There is excitement in the Normandy School District as work is officially beginning on a new state-of-the-art early learning center.

A ceremonial ground-breaking was held Thursday at the site of the current 7th and 8th-grade center, on Natural Bridge.

When it opens, it will serve almost 500 pre-school and kindergarten students.

Administrators say they believe an early start is critical to success in later school years:

"Normandy really believes that early intervention is the best route and we want to lay that foundation as looking forward moving in elementary grade school and middle school situations,” said Crystal Hunter, director of early childhood education.

The center should open by the Fall of 2019.

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