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The Hub is here to help: Gainesville City Schools’ one-stop resource center opens
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Visitors crowd into Gainesville High Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, for the official opening of The Hub. A one-stop resource center for students, The Hub connects students with academic mentors; behavioral and mental health support; college and career activities; and assist with providing basic needs through additions like a food pantry and clothing closet. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Hub at Gainesville High School is open and ready to serve students. 

Located to the left of the school’s front entrance, The Hub can connect students with academic mentors; behavioral and mental health support; college and career activities; and assist with providing basic needs through its clothing closet. 

Plans for The Hub began in March 2019 to coincide with Gainesville City Schools’ “wraparound” services initiative.

Tonya Sanders, director of The Hub, said she’s relieved to witness the student resource center finally come to fruition. 

“Now we can actually get to work with our students,” Sanders said. “It’s been great to see all the details put in place, knowing we’re going to serve so many. We feel really organized and ready to go.”

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Gainesville High's one-stop resource center known as The Hub officially opens Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Hub connects students with academic mentors; behavioral and mental health support; college and career activities; and assist with providing basic needs through additions like a food pantry and clothing closet. - photo by Scott Rogers

During the week students have already been poking their heads in to see the finished product. Sanders said she’ll start giving tours to every Gainesville High class on Monday, Feb. 3.

Symone Turner, the school’s student body president, said she can already imagine herself doing her homework in the center’s main space, which used to be the media center.

“I think it’s a great addition to Gainesville and Hall County because it really gives students access to different things they don’t normally have,” Turner said. “It’s a place for them to be themselves and let go of all of their stress.”

The middle area of the Hub offers an open room for workshops, community forums, job fairs and other gatherings. Three extra rooms line the back of the main space, all fit for studying and collaborating with small groups.

When students come through the front entrance of The Hub, they’ll see the center’s lobby to the left. This room includes offices for counselors and the director, and rooms for mental health providers and mentors to meet with students one-on-one. 

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Gainesville High's one-stop resource center known as The Hub officially opens Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Hub connects students with academic mentors; behavioral and mental health support; college and career activities; and assist with providing basic needs through additions like a food pantry and clothing closet. - photo by Scott Rogers

“Although we bleed red and black for Gainesville, we’re trying to make it where it’s more mental health friendly with calming colors,” Julie Wheeler, the school’s social adjustment counselor, said. “Any of our partners, probation officers, mentors, can borrow the space. Kids that need mediation, there are spots where they can be separated, instead of putting them in a classroom.”

Down the hall from the lobby lies the clothing closet. This room gives students the opportunity to pick a free outfit or wash their clothing. Education students from the University of North Georgia took the lead in collecting the closet’s clothes.

The Hub includes a technology center with whiteboards and computer stations to promote collaborative work. The school nurse’s office is also located in the resource center.

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Gainesville High Principal Jamie Green remarks Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, during the official opening of The Hub at the school. The one-stop resource center known as The Hub connects students with academic mentors; behavioral and mental health support; college and career activities; and assist with providing basic needs through additions like a food pantry and clothing closet. - photo by Scott Rogers

The services offered at The Hub were decided via surveys that students completed nearly three years ago. Sanders gathered additional data through reading graduation stories, which the school requires every senior to complete.

The construction for The Hub was funded through the 28th annual Medical Center Open Golf Tournament, which surpassed the school system’s $300,000 goal by raising $340,000.

Jamie Green, Gainesville High’s principal, said students are allowed to come and go into The Hub, the same way they might visit a counselor or administrator. 

“A student could be coming to see a nurse or a career counselor, but could also be coming through to see a mentor or somebody else,” Green said. “We want to have free passage down here, and trust our students to use it when they need it.”

Although The Hub is located at Gainesville High School, the services are open to all of the district’s students and families. For now, Green said the school system is working on getting the word out about the center’s services.

“Our kids throughout this county and this community deserve and need that support,” Green said. “I’m excited about the mission here and helping the kids.”

The Hub is open during school hours. Sanders said once the center gets through its transitional period, the hours could expand into the evening.

For more information about The Hub, visit hubforhall.org or call Sanders at 770-536-441, ext. 5465.