Milton: A high school full of possibilities

By Veronica Buckman

The idea that “if you build it, they will come” worked out for Kevin Costner in the classic baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” but it remains to be seen whether newly-constructed Cambridge High School in Milton will have the same results for new principal Edward Spurka when it opens for the 2012-13 school year.

With its modern red brick look, Cambridge High on Bethany Bend, gives off a very different impression than the stately white-columned Milton High School down the road. Yes, there are now two high schools in bucolic Milton.

Discussions currently revolve around how Cambridge High can stand up to Milton High. This comparison is especially strong for neighborhood families that have been redistricted by Fulton County Schools.

The Fulton school board is allowing today’s redistricted freshmen, sophomores and juniors to stay at their current schools in Milton, Alpharetta and Roswell, or transfer to their newly assigned school. This leads many attending Milton to wonder if they should stay at the populated and established school with its award-winning academic, arts and sports programs, or leave for the new and unproven, yet full-of-possibilities Cambridge?

I felt the best person to address this would be Spurka, the leader of Cambridge. With a temporary office at nearby Hopewell Middle School, Spurka says he’s spoken to civic and sports groups for months.

Roswell residents I know remember Spurka as an effective Roswell High principal. Milton residents who meet him comment on his engaging yet focused manner. Winning over public school parents is no easy feat, so hearing this positive feedback was encouraging.

“I need students and parents who are excited, energized and want to be leaders,” Spurka told me. “If parents have an interest in helping, they will not be turned away.”

As the parent of a freshman Milton student deciding whether or not to attend Cambridge, I was reassured by Spurka’s confident vision of creating at Cambridge a distinct identity from Milton High, yet with equally high-level programs.

I was struck, too, by Spurka’s point that starting from scratch at a new high school will enable him to speed forward with his vision since he won’t be stuck in an existing culture. He is currently selecting faculty and staff, seeking excellence, he said, among all his choices.

A few days after talking with Spurka I attended a college fair in Atlanta. College admissions representatives were thrilled about Cambridge. Patrick Winter, senior associate director of admission at the University of Georgia, and Mitchell Warren, senior associate director of admission at Purdue University in Indiana, agreed that as long as students at Cambridge worked hard and took advantage of as many opportunities as were presented at the school, they would be strongly considered for admissions.

Our high school students only have one chance to experience this part of their lives. I hope all involved with Cambridge do their best to make it a quick success. Parents interested in learning about Cambridge High School, which may allow for open enrollment, should visit www.cambridgehs.org.

Veronica Buckman has lived in Milton for nine years. Reach her at vrbuck01@aol.com.