In just a few months, the doors to Virginia-Highland Elementary School (VHES) will open to welcome students to the Midtown Cluster’s newest elementary school.
Located on Virginia Ave., VHES will serve students and families in part of the Virginia-Highland, Midtown, Ansley Park, Sherwood Forest and the southern part of the Morningside school zone.
“One of the most beautiful things I think we can say about an elementary school is this is where we can start to build a sense of community,” VHES Principal Terry Harness said. “It’s going to create a much tighter knit community.”
The rapid growth in the Midtown Cluster brought about the need for a new elementary school. When the Morningside Elementary School campus was becoming overcrowded, Springdale Park Elementary School (SPARK) became the new elementary school in 2009. Then, SPARK began facing the same issue and started outgrowing its school capacity.
That’s when APS decided it was necessary to open a new elementary school in the Midtown Cluster.
“The reason why the new school is in existence is just to relieve over capacity concerns within the Midtown cluster,” Harness said. “We will open up with 530 students projected this year.”
The building, which was formerly Inman Middle School, is a larger campus with a few extra amenities that aren’t typical for an elementary school setting. The building capacity for VHES is over 900 students. The school will have a “huge” STEM lab, a band and orchestra room with instrument lockers, a gymnasium with bleachers, an auditorium with a stage and a Maker’s Space where kids can learn all the messy things that teachers would prefer not happen in their classrooms.
“We have a substantial amount of room to grow over the years,” Harness said. “We also have amenities in the building that are just not what elementary schools are accustomed to. Our kids are not going to miss out on anything. We’re going to be able to hit the ground running on Day One and I feel very confident that our teachers are going to do such an amazing job.”
Since VHES has more than adequate space for its incoming students, the portable classroom units that Inman MS had to use are now gone from the play areas.
“It opens us up to having a very large play space area for our kids. Kids need a lot of room to run, play and do all the things as they are growing not just academically, but physically,” Harness said. “Being able to have such a substantially large play space area is exciting. The district is also doing some other things to support having that play space area.”
Even though VHES is a new school, it will have all the same programs that parents are accustomed to having.
“I want the community to know that even though we are considered to be a brand-new school, we’re bringing on a number of APS veteran teachers,” Harness said. “We are 100% staffed with all of our teachers and instructional paraprofessionals. We will offer the same type of STEAM signature programming that the Midtown cluster currently is a part of, and we will be working toward getting our STEAM certification.”
In addition to the afterschool clubs and extracurriculars that VHES will offer like soccer, karate, ballet and yoga, VHES will also offer onsite afterschool childcare.
The district is also providing a school resource officer that will be stationed on campus.
“I’m happy that the district was thoughtful with that knowing there will be some things we’ll have to contend with as a new school,” Harness said. “But that’s just nice to have on campus.”
It’s also nice to have a school where kids can safely walk or bike to campus. The majority of students are within the one-mile walking school zone, according to Principal Harness, and bus transportation will be available for students who live on the west side of Monroe Dr.
Principal Harness is ready to get this next school year underway already. After months of planning and building renovations, VHES is ready to open.
“With all the upgrades and renovations that are going on, I feel that the students and the parents and the teachers are going to be very pleased with the building,” Harness said. “I want our kids, teachers and our families to feel like they’ve always been here. We just moved within the neighborhood into a new home.”
THINGS TO KNOW
Before the school year gets started, here are some important dates and information VHES parents need to know.
- If you haven’t already, register your children for school as soon as possible. On the school website under the new students tab, you will find the step-by-step registration instructions.
- There are still a few summer play dates remaining for kindergarten (06/17, 07/22, 08/06) and pre-k students (07/23).
- Parents should also mark their calendars for the VHES teacher meet and greet on July 31 from 9 to 11 a.m. Families can come with their kids to meet their teachers, see the school and get more information about VHES.
- Save the Date for the Back-to-School Bash on July 22 at the Georgia World Congress Center. Click HERE for more details.
- For more information, visit the school website at virginiahighlandelementary.com