The high school, which has been under construction for three years, will open Aug. 8 with 100 to 200 students more than expected for the first year since Whitfield Board of Education members voted to allow anyone who wants to to attend it, and since students got word they’ll get their own iPad-like digital devices.
The Android-based tablets cost about $200 each, Principal Phillip Brown said, and were paid for from state money available for new schools. Students will use the devices to download textbooks and other reading as well as to access web-based school assignments. Some 3,000 of the school’s library books are virtual.
The tablet has a battery life of about 16 hours and is crafted specifically for Coahulla Creek High.
“It is a tablet computer, designed for us, to our specs, and manufactured for us,” Brown said. “We’re calling it an ‘e-reader plus.’”
Katie Fleming, a rising sophomore who is transferring from the Whitfield Career Academy to Coahulla Creek, said she kept hearing friends and other people raving about how nice the school would be. The digital tablet attracted her, too, in her decision to transfer.
“They had said that (the school) was going to be enormous, which is exciting, and they were saying we were going to get little tablets and they would load our books onto them, which is different than just regular books,” Fleming said. “Technology is so cool, and I would much rather have something on a tablet than have to work through a book.”
There will be boys and girls lockers for athletes, but there will be no student lockers. That’s intentional.
“Everything we do is digital,” Brown said. “I think that’s where a lot of stuff is going.”
The $43 million, three-level school is being paid for with proceeds from an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) and is about 242,000 square feet. It includes 63 classrooms and labs, a black box theater and an indoor walking track around a gymnasium designed to seat 2,300. It’s designed to serve about 1,200 students. About 50 teachers and other employees will staff the school this year.
Stephanie Hungerpiller, the school’s sole assistant principal, said the school will mesh different kinds of teaching methods to suit students who came from schools that used methods that varied. Coahulla Creek will have some project-based learning in which students learn primarily through research, first-hand experiences and physical creativity, but it will also offer traditional teaching methods like lecturing and reading.
The building is designed to accommodate the kinds of work students in the school system are moving toward, Brown said. Every classroom save three has an outside view. Every fourth or so classroom has a smart board, a computer marker board-like device teachers and students can use to work problems, write notes or use as a projector.
The school will offer band, chorus, fine arts, drama, video, graphics, digital art, business, engineering and health and physical education classes as electives in its first year. Brown said the school is “exploring” offering dance and digital photography.
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