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First Look: Jackson High School Near the End of $45 Million Renovation

Watch the video of this behind-the-scenes view of the Maynard Jackson High School construction site.

GRANT PARK — As Maynard Jackson High School nears its December 2013 completion date for its $45 million overhaul, school officials invited East Atlanta Patch to come in for an exclusive look at what what's been done so far.

The renovations at Jackson, among the last of Atlanta Public Schools' secondary institutions to get an overhaul, come amid several changes affecting it.

Stephanie S. Johnson was named principal Nov. 1 and has received high marks from parents, so far.

And after years of what appeared to be lukewarm relations with its feeder neighborhoods, Jackson leaders also have been making more efforts at outreach to those communities, which, besides Grant Park, include East Atlanta, Ormewood Park, Cabbagetown and Summerhill, among others.

APS Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. has promised that the district will give focused attention at raising academic standards and expectations at Jackson, which lags student achievement statewide.

Jackson High School has "tremendous potential" to be a top-ranked school, he said at a July 2012 meeting of Jackson schools cluster parents.

The school also is in the final stretch of its application for International Baccalaureate status.

The IB program, based on rigorous international learning standards, is academically challenging and highly coveted by the high and middle schools that seek acceptance into it.

District 1's Atlanta Board of Education representative, Brenda J. Muhammad, hosted the March 14 event, which also included visitors representing the South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development, the Grant Park community and the office of District 1 Councilwoman Carla Smith.

My first impression was one of envy. I am sure that the students will love how much open space and the number of natural light spaces that the new school will have.  In the center of the main school building will be a courtyard with trees and places for students to study.

On one side of the building, it seems like it will be entirely made of glass, giving an unobstructed view of the new tennis courts, football fields and open green spaces that will be added.

Pretty much everything is being built from the ground up for Jackson students.  The old gym will be torn down and rebuilt, there is a state-of-the-art theater and media center getting placed in the school.

Additionally, the design calls for a rooftop garden for students and faculty.

One feature Muhammad requested was that a very small room or area be turned into a museum as tribute to Jackson, the former Atlanta Mayor.  Muhammad, who also has a son attending Jackson High, said it's "important for these children to know who their school is named after.

"Hopefully if they know who the school is named after they will think twice about acting up."

Muhammad said she wants to add more upcoming tours for local community members so they can see what's happening first hand. Muhammad's office if you want to be added to upcoming tours.

Tomathy March 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Where did the $45 million dollars come from?
FamilyOfFour March 15, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I thought they said from SPLOST in the video?
Marc Richardson (Editor) March 15, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Yes according to Brenda Muhammad, the majority of the funds came from SPLOST, but also they were able to use left over funds from North Atlanta High's renovation/expansion.
J Grouchy March 15, 2013 at 02:41 PM
How is nine months "near"? I think you guys are jumping the gun a bit here...
Chris Murphy March 15, 2013 at 03:30 PM
What, you figure they won't finish it?
Tavari March 15, 2013 at 03:56 PM
I'm with Mr. "Grouchy" that headline is a bit misleading, but its a well written story.
Sherri Scott March 15, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I am thrilled to have a beautiful new school in our neighborhood! Grant Park is a thriving, diverse area with parents who care and a City Copuncilman who goes above and beyond! Go MAynard Jacksonn High!!!!!
Andrea K-s March 15, 2013 at 08:35 PM
NAHS funds also come from SPLOST. I think the budget for new construction at NAHS was $100 million.
Andrea March 16, 2013 at 02:51 AM
"Begged?" Ms. Muhammad has been on the Board of Education 16 years. In that time, four SPLOST fundings passed. Millions have been spent expanding schools that were already underenrolled. Every high school in Atlanta was renovated except Jackson, some three times, some to be less than half full. Is she ineffective or is she exaggerating? By her conspicuous absence from discussions of Jackson renovations until she started this year's campaign, I assume it's the latter.
J. H. March 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM
It is nice to have a newly remodeled high school in the neighborhood even if it is a little over the top. I do have a problem with using school tax dollars for a Maynard Jackson museum. It seems that should be paid for with private money and be at the Atlanta History Center or somewhere like that.
Chris Murphy March 16, 2013 at 04:59 PM
From my understanding, the school will provide the space, and the items will be provided/paid for by the Maynard Jackson Foundation and the family. It didn't sound to be anything elaborate, more informational/educational. A great read if you want to know about the families that helped form the shape of Atlanta from post-Civil War to Maynard's era and the present, see the book, "Where Peachtree Meets Auburn." It names a lot of people that are either still in the news today or their family still has influence on society and commerce.
JR Garcia March 16, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Can you explain your comment about money being re allocated from North Atlanta HS? How, when, how much? Also, the video and quotes seemed to focus only on the BOE council member. Where were the comments from the actual parents and principal?
Andrea March 16, 2013 at 11:26 PM
It is standard process within APS to set aside a legacy space at the school. The family or organizations can complete the space.
Parent@Coan March 18, 2013 at 04:07 PM
@Seriously, I think its the latter also.

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