For the first time in 15 years, a new school will be opening in the Hall County School District.
Hall County Schools cut the ribbon Monday on the new Cherokee Bluff Middle School, which will be ready for students next school year.
School Board member Mark Pettitt, who represents the southern part of the district, called it a “monumental occasion” in his remarks outside the front of the school.
At a cost of around $39 million, the 209,700-square-foot school is located in Flowery Branch at the southern end of the county, the “fastest growing part of the district,” Superintendent Will Schofield previously told The Times, which he hopes “will take care of growth within the district for the next 10 years or so.”
The school can hold about 1,500 students. Meanwhile, some 800 students will transfer from the old Cherokee Bluff Middle School, which until now has shared a campus with Cherokee Bluff High School on Spout Springs Road.
Funding came from bond revenue and a voter-approved Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
School Board chair Craig Herrington called the middle school an “incredible facility” and said it had “been in the works for a long time.” Officials had this new school in mind since purchasing the property in 2008, he said.
Matt Cox, director of facilities and construction, said one of the most difficult but rewarding challenges was figuring out how to fit such a massive school — the largest middle school in the district — on such a “tight piece of property.” They began working on the project in August 2020.
The school sits on a large hill, and the drive up is winding and steep, with a tall retaining wall on the right.
A couple students took the podium and rattled off some interesting facts about the school's construction, noting that explosives were used to blast away some of the rock. The school overlooks a sea of trees, and the students joked that from the third floor a person can spot Tennessee. It is designed to let in a lot of natural light.
The school has 94 instructional spaces, including 64 classrooms. There are rooms dedicated to art, engineering, science, business, healthcare, marketing, band and chorus. The gym can seat up to 880 students. The learning commons is “the heart of the school,” said Aaron Turpin, assistant superintendent of technology. It is a “flexible” space, he said, and the furniture can easily be moved around and rearranged.
Principal Robert Wilson said the building goes beyond brick and steel and stone. It is a “representation of those strong relationships” that characterize the district and make such projects possible.