EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – With only a month left as representatives from Breaux & Associates Architects said the Clear Creek Elementary School (CCES) should complete near the end of June, school officials toured the interior of Clear Creek Elementary School with representatives from the architectural firm.
The Board of Education has told the public for months that the project would complete and be ready for teachers to move in before the start of next semester. This is coming to fruition as Board members requested to tour the facility and advertised a called meeting to do so. The entire board arrived on site at 6 p.m. on May 26, 2021, along with Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and both county and CCES administrators looking to explore the new facility. While some are being allowed into the facility, like the guide tour, general visitation and teachers are not yet allowed in during the final stages.
Teachers have mentioned in previous meetings that they are looking to move in to the new school as soon as possible so that they may have the time they need to move in their furniture and prepare the rooms for students. Everything from desks and supplies to decorations and alternative seating have been used in Gilmer’s elementary schools with teachers utilizing their classrooms to provide an environment for students. The BOE has seen these efforts as different schools present new efforts, programs, and other points of interest to the board during the monthly meetings.
Much of CCES mirrors itself on both sides as the facility hosts smalls “pods” as Douglas Breaux of Breaux & Associates called them. Four classrooms connect to each other in their corners, allowing someone standing in the hallway to view into all four rooms from a single spot. Eight classrooms are in each hallway with four halls of classes not including larger rooms like music, art, and gym.
Breaux said that the facility is in the final phase with virtually all of the major construction steps done. Now, they are finishing up the details of the facility, finishing floors, starting to bring in furniture, applying fixtures, and painting are a few of the remaining steps.
Also mentioned during the tour, the complete facility has already prepared room to expand. According to Breaux, their is graded land already prepared should the board ever need to expand further, 16 extra classrooms could be added, eight on each side of the school with the halls expanding to include one more “pod” of four classes each.
This school is preparing for a full return of students in late 2021 as the new school year is planned to completely remove distance learning from the lower grades in Gilmer County, marking a return to pre-COVID proceedings.
Daily pick-up and drop-off and bus traffic will all be directed through the rear of the facility and administrators have already begun planning on how to handle the daily operations now that they have seen the facility nearly completed.
While the larger rooms like the cafeteria, music room, art room, and media center do not yet have the major furniture in them, the general layouts can be seen. The media center is wired for a full technology area along one wall and has its main desk up. The cafeteria has its stage finished where administrators say they will utilize the area for presentations and awards when needed, but also have a daily uses planned like a special dining area at different style table where certain students with good behavior are allowed to sit, supporting PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) programming. The art room already has a space prepared with necessary ventilation for a kiln. Something the school received through a grant but has not yet been able to use in this school.
Ready to see furniture, teachers, and students, CCES is on track for the 2021-2022 school year as the Board of Education is ready to finally move from its old location at what was once Ellijay Primary School to its new location neighboring Clear Creek Middle. Leaving behind the old facility, this move marks one culmination of the system’s 2019 redistricting for its elementary schools to serve geographic portions of the county.
The plan, as stated in 2019, “will allow students to experience less transitions during critical early learning years and will improve efficiency of bus routes for community schools.” Downtown Ellijay may also see slightly less traffic in the area as it only serves one school now, not two.