On Thursday night, members of the east Cobb community gathered at the elementary school off of Roswell Road to participate in a ribbon-cutting, an open house and 60th anniversary festivities for the newly built facility.
East Side principal Elizabeth Mavity said, “Opening a new school is a dream of most principals. The building of the new school will certainly be among of the greatest highlights of my career. It is a huge morale booster to East Side students and staff, especially because we are all finally under one roof.”
In years past, Mavity said the students and staff were spread around the much smaller campus, approximately 71,000 square feet smaller than the rebuild, in a 59-year-old building with 13 portable units that both had begun to require frequent maintenance and upgrades.
“Thanks to the school district’s SPLOST program, the new building is state-of-the-art, has all of the amenities we need and will be a first-class facility for our community for decades to come,” Mavity added.
The Cobb County School Board approved a $15.6 million bid for the 149,892 square foot rebuild on Jan. 28, 2010. It was rebuilt in the shadow of its old building. Less than a month later, J & R Construction Company out of Carrollton broke ground on the massive project and was done in time to open it to the faculty and students in August.
SPLOST administrator Doug Shepard said the only construction project remaining for completion is the playground, which is scheduled to be finished in November, and the delayed parking lot which was built where the old school once stood opened on Oct. 3.
Scott Sweeney, the board member who represents East Side, said, “The school has been and continues to play a vital role within the east Cobb community. All school communities show how proud they are of their school and it’s clear that the level of pride at East Side has been kicked up a notch with the opening of the new school.”
Mavity gave Sweeney a tour of the school just a few days before students returned and, while there was some ongoing construction activity, he said it was clearly evident how hard the school’s staff and community volunteers were working together to get the school open.
“The school is an incredible facility including state-of-the-art technology, highly efficient energy systems and the space needed to accommodate all students,” Sweeney said.
After years of hearing several families plead for the elimination of portables and questioned expensive maintenance, Sweeney said that the new school is proof that their concerns were heard and acted upon.
Lauren Tear, a fifth-grader at East Side, started her sixth year at the school in August. She said her favorite part about the new school was how clean it is and how everything smells good.
“I do miss (the old school) though,” she added. “It’s got my kindergarten memories … my first years.”
She and her mother Jennifer were volunteering and selling bricks from the old school at the festivities Thursday night for $20 each.
According to Mavity, Lois Holcomb donated the 10 acres of land on Roswell Road to the Cobb County Board of Education in 1946. They originally planned to name the school Mt. Bethel Elementary because it was being constructed to replace a two-room school of the same name.
It was at the opening of the school in 1952 that it was named East Side Elementary and opened with 10 classrooms in a single building serving only 314 students in grades 1-8.
Previous additions to the school include two new classrooms in 1957, four in 1962, four in 1965, a new wing with 11 classrooms, a cafeteria, kitchen and covered play area in 1969, a modular building addition in 1986 and another six-classroom wing was completed in 2002.