On Monday, when school starts in Fulton County, Cambridge High School in Milton will become the school system's 17th high school, composed mainly of students who last year attended Alpharetta and Milton high schools.
Principal Ed Spurka said the biggest challenge in starting a high school from scratch and establishing its importance and role in the community has been easing parents' concerns that the new school won't sustain the high academic performance of Alpharetta and Milton.
The school had an open house on Aug. 3 attended by about 900 parents to talk about academics and school spirit. That was reassuring, Spurka said. "I felt like it was a great success, a big payoff — and we sold about $12,000 worth of school spirit-wear."
Fulton County school officials have worked to make Cambridge feel like bedrock from the beginning. The letter C in the school's name is in honor of the Cogburn family, who owned the land the school was built on at the corner of Bethany Bend and Cogburn Road, which used to be a cow pasture. The letter A is a nod to the students who transferred from Alpharetta. The letter M recognizes students who transferred from Milton.
Appreciating that high school spirit probably gets its greatest spike during football season, Cambridge head football coach Craig Bennett recently staged a midnight practice under lights in the school's 4,500-seat stadium, with parents and supporters watching and cheering from the stands as about 100 players went through drills on the artificial surface emblazoned with the Cambridge Bears team name. Afterward, the Touchdown Club fed the team breakfast.
Fulton is also opening another new school Monday: Banneker High School is getting a new facility on Feldwood Road in College Park to replace an older, outdated building. The 340,000-square-foot school will be home to 1,300 students.
More details about the new school:
School project and construction started: 2010
Size: 320,000 square feet, including a 600-seat theater with a stage deep enough for a full orchestra, and a science hall
Cost to build: $45 million
Principal: Edward J. Spurka. For the previous eight years, he was the principal at Roswell High School.
Number of teachers: 60
Number of classrooms: 99
Number of students: About 1,200, roughly 60 percent of them from Milton High, 30 percent from Alpharetta High, and 10 percent from private schools.
First football game: Aug. 31, against Riverwood
How they decided on a bear mascot: A committee of students from Alpharetta and Milton, and feeder middle and elementary schools came up with three finalists — broncos, bears or jaguars — and voted. Bears won.
School colors: Navy blue, Carolina blue and white
Back to school
Thousands of students in metro Atlanta have already returned to school. Monday is the first day of school for students in Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fayette and Fulton.