Editor’s note: Schools not included in this article either did not meet the Neighbor’s deadline or did not have any news on new or planned facilities.
It may take a village to raise a child as the old African proverb states, but that village also needs to present that child with state-of-the-art facilities and programs to educate him.
With an emphasis on preparing students to be college- and career-ready in an ever-changing world, that phrase has become the educational foundation for schools in Buckhead, Sandy Springs and beyond.
Atlanta Classical Academy, which was established in 2014, completed construction of its inaugural high school facility and a full renovation of the HVAC system in the school’s existing buildings between 2016 and 2019.
Although the school has no additional plans presently for new facilities this year, construction of the high school facility was completed in two phases between 2016 and 2018. Twelve classrooms were added, including a science lab and a multipurpose room, to accommodate the school’s maturation to a K-12 educational facility last year.
In addition, the school’s HVAC renovation was completed this year. The school’s focus is on creating the best learning environment for its students, one in which they can engage with the content, their teachers and one another.
The school is selective in the technology it chooses to use in the classrooms as it incorporates tools that will enhance learning without causing distractions.
At the start of the 2018-19 academic year, Atlanta International School opened its new Primary Learning Center, doubling the footprint of the former primary school as it added 20 more classrooms and a cafeteria/multipurpose space.
This enabled the school to introduce a Chinese immersion program from preschool to fifth grade, all while supporting an impressive array of languages and welcoming almost 100 new primary school students.
The three-story structure is home to 500 children representing 43 different nationalities, and each floor houses all classrooms and facilities necessary for two grade levels.
The center is linked to the main school library, where multilingual language staff can guide children to books and other learning materials in the four target languages: Spanish, German, French and Chinese, and many others offered through the school’s Heritage Language Program.
Although there are no planned additions to its facilities, the school believes a collaborative culture lies at the heart of the curriculum and has been a driving force from the start of the project. Educators, students and parents have all had an input in the design of the new building.
Technology, facilities and equipment are all important components of the classroom, which can be linked to other spaces or kept separate, offering the option of spilling out into shared spaces for collaborative work, particularly STEAM-related activities.
Cumberland Academy of Georgia has undergone a significant construction phase entering this new school year.
It has built additional high school classroom space in its high school area to meet the school’s rapidly growing enrollment, in addition to expanding learning opportunities.
This follows the construction last year of a Kitchen Living Lab used to instill important living skills in its students, including cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, doing the laundry and encouraging its students to become more self-sufficient and independent.
In 2017, the school added a new art room area for its students as school officials believe the arts are vital to its student population. The school believes access to the arts gives its students the opportunity to express themselves as well as gain confidence. Art also provides opportunities to reinforce motor skills.
In addition to new structures, Cumberland views it as important for the school to have the newest technology in terms of facilities and the equipment inside these new venues. Cumberland officials continue to look for technological advancements and equipment for its facilities, which mirrors what’s applicable in the real world.
This aligns with the school’s mission of fostering self-sufficient and independent young adults upon graduation. The school prides itself on teaching 21st-century digital skills and maintaining its Digital Citizenship certification through Common Sense Education.
Although Holy Spirit Preparatory School has not opened any new facilities in the last three years, it has developed a master plan regarding its lower and upper schools, which are on separate campuses.
The goal of the master plan is to consolidate its lower and upper school campuses to one main campus by building on 13 acres of land the Catholic Archdiocese owns next to the school and Holy Spirit Catholic Church. In addition, the school prides itself on using proven educational technology to support the learning process in its students.
As an example, its middle school students use new Chromebooks and Google Classroom, when it is the best method of instruction. The school does not believe in using its students for any experimental technology in instructions.
In addition, Holy Spirit Prep also does not believe in using its students for experimental technology when such technology has not been proven to be valuable or useful to student learning.
As a member of the Atlanta K12 Design Challenge partnership, The Lovett School’s faculty teams have used design thinking as a process for school innovation for several years.
The lower school team involved students and faculty to help design a new kindergarten/first-grade playground, which was completed in stages.
Phase one, completed in the 2016-17 academic year, included a raised and covered play area, new turf, mounds, nets, rings, a rainbow climber and several slides. Phase two, completed in the 2017-18 school year, included a new green play space and basketball court.
At Lovett, it is extremely important that the school’s technology needs undergo constant updating. Among other initiatives, Lovett has recently upgraded middle school equipment to the newest version of SMART boards and also added new equipment and functionality to its SchoolPass system for carpool and traffic.
The school has also started planning for new student laptop computers, scheduled for fall 2020 and representing a $2.5 million hardware investment.
Last month, Mount Vernon School opened the doors of its new upper school building.
Designed with technology and flexibility in mind, the nearly 60,000-square-foot addition to the upper campus will allow a flexible and open environment to accommodate the academic and social needs for up to 400 students in grades nine through 12.
The building features a college counseling suite, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) space, community spaces and a wing dedicated to the arts, including fine arts, digital arts and dance studios, as well as an industry-grade recording studio, a virtual and augmented reality lab and a black box theater.
Based on years of researching highly designed, functional corporate spaces, this building includes leading-edge automated windows by View Glass, handcrafted furniture, mobile walls to create collaborative work spaces when needed, and a glass-walled cafe with a coffee shop.
The grounds of the upper campus include a large community green with stepped seating adjacent to the athletics field, connecting walkways to the middle school building, as well as the Mustang Athletic Center and a field suitable for softball and baseball.
Mount Vernon’s philosophy is its students should love going to school. As a school of inquiry, innovation and impact, it views its responsibility to equip its students with the right tools, an authentic learning environment and high-performing teachers.
North Atlanta High School is installing a new turf field in place of its current grass practice field. The new field was donated through a partnership with Northside Youth Lacrosse and Southern Soccer Academy.
The school is planning to install new signage on Northside Parkway to better identify it to passersby and to highlight its business partnerships. North Atlanta is also in the beginning stages of planning to add to its current football field additional seating, a concession stand, restrooms and more.
The school’s new campus opened in 2013 and was recognized nationally as a state-of-the art facility then. It was previously an IBM corporate campus and the 11-story concrete-framed office tower was redesigned to accommodate 2,350 students.
The facility included a 942-car parking deck, 2100-seat gymnasium, multiple athletic fields/courts, a 600-seat auditorium, a 150-seat black box theater, music and art rooms and more. The technology is updated as needed to keep up with growing demands.
In fall 2017, Pace Academy opened a new softball facility at the school’s Riverview Sports Complex.
This addition to the complex includes an all-weather, artificial-turf softball field, a training facility, locker rooms and restroom facilities.
The field enhances the 23-acre complex, which also houses Walsh Field, a state-of-the-art stadium with bleacher seating, a FIFA-regulation grass field and a Beynon track. Other new facilities include the Charlie Owens Baseball Field, a multipurpose field for football, soccer and lacrosse, locker rooms, a training facility and a snack bar.
In addition, plans also call for Pace to replace the Randall House, which is the current lower school administrative building, with a three-story, 36,500-square-foot space to house STEAM programs, as well as administrative offices, performance and play spaces and a new Academic Resource Center.
The new building will accommodate the school’s growing program and curriculum needs, ensure the safety and security of students, accommodate faculty and staff and allow for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.
The school will also update existing spaces in its lower school classroom building and construct an improved, ADA-accessible playground. Construction on the new facility will begin in December, and the building will be open for the 2021-22 academic year.
Pace officials believe students’ primary relationships should be with their teachers, and it hires master educators who use technology as a tool.
Riverwood International Charter School is being rebuilt over multiple years, beginning as a building addition that opened in August 2017.
That building included 30 classrooms as well as construction of a new baseball field. This followed in 2018 with the completion of 41 additional classrooms and career tech labs as well as a new media center and cafeteria.
The final phase of this project begins later in this school year and will include performing arts spaces to add an auditorium which can be used for music, drama, band, orchestra and chorus.
School officials view it as important that technology be an integral part of any school’s design and construction. Technology in the classroom enhances the learning experience, increases student engagement and supports learning beyond the school day.
As a result, students are better able to master what they learn, and this produces a graduate who is career- and college-ready. Its students expect technology to enable every part of their lives, and future employers demand technical literacy.
The final phase begins later this school year and will include the performing arts and health/physical education program.
The Weber School continues to build “only at Weber” programming, reinforcing its unique position in the high school landscape.
The Daniel Zalik Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Design finished its pilot year and officially launched with a fully outfitted MIT-inspired Fab Lab with state-of-the-art equipment such as laser cutters/engravers, routers and mini mills.
The academy promotes hands-on experimentation in disciplines including engineering, digital, 3D modeling, fashion and multimedia design, robotics, architecture and science research. Various departments such as English and Jewish studies are also incorporating design projects into their curriculum and will utilize the Fab Lab throughout the year.
New this school year is the Weber Sports Science Academy. Complementing Weber’s full array of competitive athletic teams, this academy is designed to educate students in fields including physical therapies, sports medicine, physical training, fitness and sports management. Students have the opportunity to fulfill an Honors track and earn an Honors Diploma upon graduation, paving a path for college and subsequent sports/fitness-related careers.
It is a central goal of the Zalik Academy to maintain state-of-the-art technology and equipment in its MIT-Inspired Fab Lab. Additionally, Weber will continue to enhance facilities and equipment to support its Sports Science Academy and growing athletics program.
Westminster Schools is implementing a campus master plan that was carefully developed through a multiyear process that involved members from all facets of its community.
This plan has set the stage for the most comprehensive campus renewal in the school’s history.
The building projects currently underway as well as those planned for future phases have been carefully designed to enhance what has made Westminster special since its founding in 1951 to include community, teacher-student connections and leadership with a conscience.
Construction on the initial projects outlined in the campus plan started in June and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2020.
The projects include a historic renovation of Campbell Hall, which is one of two original buildings on Westminster’s campus, and the construction of a new 28,000-square-foot upper school academic building, which will be named Hawkins Hall.
Enhancements are also being made to Westminster’s Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, to improve all aspects of the fan and student-athlete experience.
As a space for its students to explore, develop and actualize some of their biggest ideas, Whitefield Academy’s Innovation Lab opened in August 2017 and houses two 3D printers, a laser-cutter, a CNC router, brainstorming and design software and much more.
The WolfPack Den opened in January, and in addition to providing an expanded dining space for its middle and upper school students, the Den also serves as a community gathering space for athletic and parent events.
Brostrand Hall is expected to open August 2020. This new lower school building will serve between 270 and 300 students in pre-K through fourth grade and will include a space dedicated to lower school dining, as well as a state-of-the-art media center.
Incorporating technology into Whitefield’s new facilities helps to keep its students safe and enhance instructional practices.
Woodward Academy built a new biotech lab and installed an OmniGlobe for instruction in the Carlos Science Center on the upper school campus.
Woodward’s Thomas Hall, which houses the lower school’s fourth through sixth grades, recently received a building expansion. The expansion provides additional space to address the academic needs for its robust performing arts and physical education programs by adding an additional classroom and expanding the gym.
Woodward also converted the nearby Tri-Cities Plaza for use by the academy’s Student Transport Department. The new facility, occupying about five acres, features new, state-of-the-art bus maintenance garages, offices for supervisors, a new central dispatch area and a lounge and work space for bus drivers. The building is more energy efficient and convenient to Woodward’s main campus.
Additionally, the site offers a three-acre parking lot that is used for large spectator events such as athletic playoff games and commencement. Woodward’s top safety-rated bus system is used by about 560 students on 27 different routes throughout metro Atlanta. All the school’s buses are outfitted with a student tracking system that records when students enter and exit the bus in real time, WiFi, reading lights, USB charging ports and air conditioning.
The biotech lab’s new OmniGlobe draws students in, illuminating a class lesson right before their eyes and giving them a physical reference point for the scientific phenomena they’re studying.