"School of the future" opens in Whitfield County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

"School of the future" now open in Whitfield County

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Eastbrook Middle School Eastbrook Middle School

DALTON, GA (WRCB) -- For 47 years, Eastbrook Middle School students and teachers toiled inside a dank, dark building.  Now they are entering the future.  

So what is it like?

"It's like coming from a dungeon into heaven," said principal George Kopcsak. "The natural light, the courtyard area.  It's beautiful.  Even our hallways are learning spaces."

There are still some finishing touches, but nothing to delay the start of school.  Besides, teachers have been anxiously awaiting this for a decade.  
At one time, talks centered around renovating the old school, but thanks to SPLOST tax money, Whitfield County was able to spend $24 million for a new one, that looks like no other.

"It was a pleasant surprise," said language arts teacher Shiloh Scroggs.  "I didn't believe it at first.  But we got to watch it being built next door, and it was an awesome surprise."

Scroggs says a new school means an entirely new way of teaching.  The old school's wiring was inefficient, and due to its construction, couldn't be repaired.  The new school allows teachers to embrace technology, including Nooks for each student.  

Art teacher Kristi Harvey has one of the largest art classrooms in the Tennessee Valley.  It expands into a hallway art gallery area, and even into the courtyard, which will become a community showcase for leisure and learning.

"I've already approached Mr. Kopcsak about a sculpture garden out there," she said. "It's a great place to go outside and work."

Eastbrook is in a high unemployment area, with 91 percent of students on free and reduced lunch programs.  The new school should give new hope to students now free of "the dungeon."

"There's a buzz of excitement," said Kopcsak. "They are in awe. This community is finally getting something they deserved."

The school's enrollment is currently around 650, but Kopcsak says there is room to grow.  The capacity is listed as 800.  The school's ultra-modern exterior is highlighted by large, multiple windows in every classroom, which Kopcsak says will make the school energy efficient, rarely needing any artificial light.  A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony will be scheduled sometime in September.
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