Bartow County’s 30-year-old middle school in Emerson began a new era Monday, Aug. 5.
Superintendent Phillip Page joined with school board members, teachers, local elected officials and community members to celebrate the reopening of the school under the name Red Top Middle School.
The 600-student school in the south Bartow County town also has a new logo and colors, and its sports teams have a new nickname, after it spent its first 30 years as South Central Middle School.
“You can see the excitement and energy as Superintendent Page, BOE Chairman Fred Kittle, Emerson Mayor Al Pallone, and dozens of faculty, staff, students and community members walked through the freshly painted school filled with new desks, LED lighting, covered breezeways, signage, and gym floor,” stated a posting on the school system Facebook page.
Speakers included Page, Pallone, school board chairman Fred Kittle, Principal Wes Dickey and others. School chorus members also performed.
Page said the effort to rebrand the school began after community members approached him in August 2018 to begin discussions about changing the school name “with one that better represents the community it serves,” he said.
School system officials then formed a committee of students, parents and administrators from South Central and its elementary feeder schools; community members; then-Principal Tia Windsor; current Principal Wes Dickey; and other school administrators.
Committee members proposed such names as Old Alabama Middle School in honor of its location on Old Alabama Road; and Lakepoint Middle School to signify its proximity to the Lakepoint sports complex, before they chose Red Top in honor of nearby Red Top Mountain.
The group chose the nickname Miners after Pallone told them families settling in the area after the discovery of gold in Dahlonega in 1829 found the area’s red dirt contained large deposits of iron, graphite and small deposits of gold.
Mining became one of the main industries in Emerson and is still done today throughout Bartow County, he said.
The committee chose the new nickname over Cardinals, Mountaineers and Rattlers.
The new school colors are red, silver and white, with red representing nearby Red Top Mountain and the silver and white accent colors representing the feeder schools, school district officials said.
The Bartow County School Board in May then voted to approve the committee’s recommendation and rename and rebrand the school.
The school’s new logo already emblazons the center of the gym floor and includes a red “R” entwined with a pickaxe in the shape of the letter “T,” which are the initials of the school’s new name.
Sports teams at the school, which opened in 1989, formerly were named the Chieftains and its colors were maroon, gray and white.