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New Chestnut Mountain Elementary is ready for its close-up
There will be an open house Friday at Chestnut Mountain Elementary School. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The newest and biggest Hall County elementary school will hear its first pitter-patter of little feet Friday as students and parents get a sneak peek of the new Chestnut Mountain Elementary School.

Save for the unopened boxes of school supplies stacked in each of its 48 classrooms, the only indications the nearly 93,000-square-foot building soon will house elementary school students are its bathroom mirrors hung two feet from the floor and the rows of smaller-sized desks.

Sabrina May, principal of Chestnut Mountain Elementary School in South Hall, said she is inviting the public to have a look at the $13.2 million school in its pristine condition. In particular, May said she wants the 740 kindergartners through fifth-graders enrolled for the upcoming school year to become familiar with the new building before classes start Aug. 7.

"I think some kids are really nervous about the new school, and that’s why we wanted to have them come to the sneak peek," May said.

Chestnut Mountain Elementary, with a capacity of 900 students, now eclipses Chicopee Woods as the county’s largest elementary school.

May said 160 students formerly enrolled at Spout Springs Elementary School will begin classes this fall at the new Chestnut Mountain Elementary. And she said about 200 students are leaving Friendship Elementary to fill classrooms at Spout Springs Elementary in August.

"The whole purpose of building this new school was to relieve overcrowding at Spout Springs Elementary and Friendship Elementary," May said.

She said the old Chestnut Mountain Elementary School had three teachers using two mobile classrooms on the campus, and Spout Springs and Friendship elementary schools both had several of the units.

The principal said she is glad to bring new students under her wing. She said it’s important for parents of students who might be anxious about the change in surroundings to tell students they will have many friends from Spout Springs Elementary in their classes.

"I assured them they will not be in a classroom with all new students," May said. "We’ll put several students from Spout Springs in the same class together, so they’ll know somebody."

Next week, teachers can begin unpacking their classroom supplies and decorations they carted over from the old Chestnut Mountain Elementary School. By the time students arrive with parents to meet teachers at the open house Aug. 6, May said the facility will have undergone a transformation.

Gordon Higgins, director of community relations for Hall County schools, said the new elementary school was built in the past year by Charles Black Construction, the same company that built Flowery Branch High School and Chicopee Woods Elementary. He said funds from Hall County’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax collections were used to construct the school.

The school features a gymnasium with hardwood floors and a stage, two computer labs and a media center at the front of its T-shaped floor plan. The cafeteria has three large skylights and will have two serving lines to expedite lunchtime.

In addition, students will have access to a room outfitted with a stove, oven, kitchen sink, clothes washer and dryer to be used in teaching lessons of basic life skills, May said. The new Chestnut Mountain Elementary also has music and art rooms, complete with oversized sinks and a kiln for firing pottery.

Higgins said the old Chestnut Mountain Elementary, which was built in the 1960s, won’t stay empty for long.

He said it is currently undergoing renovation to prepare for the 400 elementary school students from all across the county who are enrolled in the school system’s first World Language Academy opening there in August. The academy will feature a daily dual-language curriculum that calls for all students to be instructed half in English and half in Spanish.

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