It was the first last day of school at Cherokee Bluff High School on Friday, May 24.
“In all my years of education, this has been the best year, by far,” Principal Wes McGee said of the school’s first year in existence.
Cherokee Bluff high and middle schools opened in South Hall in fall 2018 to handle incredible student enrollment growth in Hall County Schools.
As with any new endeavor, there were unknowns and some surprises. But, for McGee, perhaps the biggest shock was just how smoothly the school year went.
“You always hope for things to be great, but it did go so well,” he said. “I’ve always said this is an opportunity rather than a challenge.”
Those opportunities rubbed off on a number of students who joyously poured out the school’s front doors on Friday ready for summer break.
Kadeisha Davis, a rising junior, relocated with her family from North Carolina mid-year, and she had the choice to attend Flowery Branch High.
But she read good reviews about Cherokee Bluff, and said she liked that it was brand-new.
“All the teachers are nice, everybody is friendly,” Davis said. “I’m happy I chose Cherokee Bluff.”
Ethan Presgraves, also a rising junior, attended Johnson High in Hall County last school year.
“I wasn’t looking forward to going here,” he admitted. “But I like it now.”
Presgraves’ change of opinion is due to the close friendships he’s formed and opportunities to explore unique courses, such as a class in forensics.
“I jumped at the opportunity to take that class,” he said.
Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said the end of each school year and the progress made during the academic year continually impress him.
“I continue to be amazed at the quality of our students and the adults who work with them,” he added. “Our mission of ‘character, competency and rigor for all’ is seen on display in so many ways.”
Schofield said he expects graduation rates will outpace predictions when the formal tally comes in. And there were a record number of students this year receiving post-secondary work ready certifications, while the Early College @ Jones “continues to grant post-secondary access to hundreds of first-generation college-goers.”
“The inaugural year at Cherokee Bluff was extremely successful, and we are already making plans to accommodate the growth in that part of the county,” Schofield said. “Fifteen years into my position, I have marveled at our leadership development program’s ability to develop school leaders who are replacing the Baby Boomers. The children are well in Hall County, Ga.”
For McGee, Cherokee Bluff’s success is collective in nature.
“It’s always about the team,” he added. “We call it a family. That sets the tone for everything else to fall into place.”