Hundreds joined Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis and North Atlanta High School Principal Dr. Howard Taylor at a Tuesday morning ribbon cutting to celebrate the official opening of the new North Atlanta High School.
Although students have been attending classes in the new NAHS academic building since August, construction on the adjacent building – which houses the auditorium, black box theater, competition gym and practice gym – was only recently completed. According to Taylor, school activities could begin in that building as early as next week.
Students were an integral part of the ceremony. Shontika Wynn and NAHS student body president Sarah Evans emceed the event and shared in cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Twelfth-grader Peyton Sammons sang the national anthem after cadets from the NAHS JROTC presented the colors for the occasion, and the NAHS Grazioso Quintet played an impressive classical arrangement for strings.
For Sarah, although the SPLOST- funded school structure was originally built for IBM offices 36 years ago, the building and the ribbon cutting symbolize the beginning of something new for her NAHS family.
“It marks a new chapter at North Atlanta. We have a new school and a new principal, and we’re excited to be moving in the right direction. I think that this new building is going to give us all the tools we need to do that.”
Several speakers recognized the efforts of the numerous individuals who worked on the new NAHS project, and they thanked the NAHS students, staff and parents for their support for a vision that took ten years to bring to life.
“Ten years ago this month, a group of parents, teachers, principals, business and community leaders, as well as school board members were asked by the administration to participate in a task force to help improve the recruitment and the retention in the northern corridor of the APS schools,” stated Nancy Meister, Atlanta Board of Education District Four Representative Nancy Meister.
Meister said she was confident that the new facility, along with committed parental leadership and Dr. Taylor’s vision would make NAHS the premier high school in the southeast, if not the nation, within the next 10 years.
Taylor echoed her remarks, stating, “North Atlanta will become a model urban public high school.”
One after the other, program speakers commented on the building’s remarkable beauty.
“Anyone who has seen this building is dazzled by its beauty,” said Superintendent Davis.
Meister called it “phenomenal,” adding that she was “still kind of in awe” after touring the facility.
Even Paul Fenzl, vice president of JE Dunn Construction, the company responsible for the physical transformation of the building, took a moment to marvel over the architectural design.
“The architects completely outdid themselves. They took a relatively normal looking office park, and turned it into one of the most magnificent learning campuses I’ve ever seen.
Fenzl’s final comments captured the reason behind Tuesday’s occasion: “Now, the project is finally complete, and it belongs to the community. Now it belongs to the students.”
The renovated NAHS campus sits on 56 acres and features an 11-story academic building, parking deck, elevators for students, a 600-seat theater, competition gym, practice gym, football, baseball and softball fields and tennis courts.
–by Tiffany King, APS Office of Communications and External Affairs