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World Language Academy 5th-graders headed back to elementary campus
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Chef Giovanna Garcia works with a class of World Language Academy fifth-graders Monday, March 5, 2018, during culinary class. Hall County Schools is planning to move fifth-graders back to WLA elementary campus in Chestnut Mountain. They are currently at the middle school campus of WLA on Poplar Springs Road. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County school officials are looking to reverse a lingering result of the Great Recession by bringing fifth-grade World Language Academy students back into an elementary school environment this fall.

During the worst of the economic downturn — when housing markets were bursting and banks collapsing — school officials paired World Language Academy fifth-graders with the sixth through eighth-grade program located within the Academies of Discovery campus on Poplar Springs Road in South Hall.

The move for the fifth-grade class from the WLA campus at Chestnut Mountain thrust kids into a young adult setting for the sake of easing overcrowding.

WLA at Chestnut Mountain was “busting at the seams,” Superintendent Will Schofield said.

And when the old South Hall Middle School was renovated to host the Da Vinci Academy, for example, it became the obvious, viable option to place the fifth-grade WLA learners.

In the long run, however, “It hurt WLA programmatically because K-5 (grades) need to be together,” Schofield said. “It was never what was best.”

Space remains limited at the elementary WLA, and Schofield said officials are working to establish state-of-the-art modular units to handle the influx of fifth-graders back to the Chestnut Mountain campus.

Laurie Hitzges, one of two WLA principals, said having fifth-graders on the Academies of Discovery campus “worked pretty well.”

But educators are nothing if not optimistic, and Hitzges said parents are pleased to hear that fifth-graders will be returning to a primary school atmosphere.

These fifth-graders have missed out on various assemblies and other events on the Chestnut Mountain campus.

The move also allows the Academies of Discovery campus room to grow by easing current near-capacity attendance.

“That piece is really nice,” Hitzges said.

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