“The students who have come in and have looked at [the school] already are very impressed and are excited about coming back,” Principal Brian Knuchel said. “One of the reasons they’re so excited is this is the first school in the county where all the students are getting laptops and they’re going to get the laptops home with them.”
While the school will have textbooks in each classroom, the intent of having laptops with ebooks and digital versions of textbooks, Knuchel said, is to eliminate the need for multiple textbooks.
“Kids love technology and the reason we’re doing this is to increase student engagement,” Knuchel said. “If the kids like what they’re doing, they’re going to pay attention, they’re not going to get in trouble and they’re going to achieve.”
Without the need to carry around textbooks comes a noticeable structural change at the school — no lockers.
“[Students will] get a little satchel to put their laptops in and they’ll carry that satchel with them from class to class,” Knuchel said, adding the school also will offer for sale backpacks fitted for laptops if students prefer a backpack.
Insurance will be available for the laptops, which are valued at $1,200 each. Knuchel said more information regarding laptop insurance will be available to parents at open house, Monday Aug. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. Laptop informational meetings will be held Aug. 20, Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 for sixth, seventh and eighth grades, respectably.
Despite the move from textbooks to digital books, AMS Media Specialist Breanna Lee explained the media center this year will offer 1,200 physical copies of new books and 1,500 ebooks, some with full access to teachers and students simultaneously.
The school will host up to 1,000 students and features labs, advanced education facilities, baseball, softball, football and track facilities and a gym.
The school plans to open its doors to 720 students and 50 teachers beginning the start of the fall semester on Aug. 7.
Superintendent John Harper said the endeavor would not have been possible without the efforts of the Bartow County Board of Education and the community as a whole.
“Thanks to [the community] and the school board, we’ve been able to make this dream a reality. It’s really all about community,” Harper said.
Bartow County voters in July 2010 approved the district to issue $70 million in general obligation debt to help acquire land for and construct its future facilities, make technology improvements, refurbish existing facilities and purchase school buses. The authorization was a part of the approved continuation of the local education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.