School Board Members Tour New/Replacement Dean Rusk MS

School Board Members Tour New/Replacement Dean Rusk MS

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The new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School is ready to open for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 1.

Cherokee County School Board members recently toured the new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School, getting a glimpse of the state-of-the-art facility that will serve more than 1,450 students when the school year begins on Monday, August 1.

The new/replacement school is ready to open on time and under budget!  Construction was funded locally through Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (Ed SPLOST) revenue, as approved by voters in 2011.

The tour on July 19 began with a welcome from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who led School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan and District 3 Board Member John Harmon, who represents the area; as well as senior staff and local and Atlanta media on the tour.

Dr. Hightower gave an overview of the facility and noted several of the economic efficiencies featured in the building, such as polished concrete floors that will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time.  He also highlighted new design features to increase safety and security, as well as technological innovations, such as the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

“It’s a point of pride to welcome you,” Dr. Hightower said, as he kicked off the tour.  “This school has the capacity we need, with even greater efficiencies, security and technology than our last school construction project… and it’s a beautiful building.  We can’t wait for students, staff and the community to enjoy their new school, and we appreciate the community’s support of the Education SPLOST that funded its construction.”

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Principal Cindy Cooper walks through the mobile seating area in the Cyber Café media center. All the furniture is on casters, and is equipped with handles, so chairs and tables can be easily moved for collaborative group work.


Architect: KRH Architects of Dalton designed the school using a modified version of the CCSD prototypical middle-school design utilized for the new/replacement E.T. Booth MS and Teasley MS.

Contractor: Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc., which has constructed schools and other educational facilities statewide including numerous CCSD facilities (i.e., Little River ES, Liberty ES, Canton ES and Cherokee High Athletic Improvements), was awarded the $36.8 Million contract by the School Board in February 2014.  The site, which is adjacent to Hickory Flat ES, had been in the CCSD inventory for many years and became available for construction after the extension of sewer lines to the campus freed up previously unusable land.

Size: The building is 255,037 square feet, and the campus is 25.6 acres.

Capacity: The new two-story facility, with a capacity of 1,600 students (an increase of 400 from the former campus), allows for the standard middle school configuration of Grades 6-8 on one campus… which provides sixth-graders with greater opportunity for academic rigor, fine arts and career electives and athletic and extra-curricular activities, as well as 30 additional minutes of instructional time each day, compared to an elementary schedule.  Projected enrollment when classes begin on Aug. 1 is 1,476 students: 476 sixth-graders, 505 seventh-graders and 495 eighth-graders.  Dean Rusk MS draws students from Hickor0y Flat, Holly Springs STEM Academy, Indian Knoll and Mountain Rd Elementary Schools.

Address and phone number: 2761 East Cherokee Dr., Canton, Ga. 30115 and 770-704-1135


Instruction: 97 instructional units… including classrooms that all feature smart boards (Dean Rusk MS is CCSD’s first school to feature all touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards), computers and additional technology; computer labs; art and music rooms; gymnasium; cafetorium; and a Cyber Café media center and Global Learning Theatre… both featuring CCSD’s new prototypical digital learning-friendly design!

Efficiency: Constructed with metal roofing, brick/block masonry and structural steel frame; four-pipe chilled water and hot water system, which also increases equipment life expectancy; variable speed pumping system; mechanical mezzanine above the second floor for servicing of equipment without disrupting classroom activities or hallway traffic; and energy management/control system.  New features incorporated into this school include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

Safety: In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, this new modified prototypical middle-school design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  The site also allows for the separation of cars and buses through the construction of an internal drive system, which allows for ingress and egress between the schools (Hickory Flat ES, Dean Rusk MS and Sequoyah HS) without entering Hickory Road or East Cherokee Drive.

Aesthetics: Following the tradition started with the new/replacement E.T. Booth and Teasley Middle Schools, this campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  The colors are featured throughout… including in the efficient polished concrete floors.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS also redesigned its mascot in keeping with the Sequoyah HS Chiefs.

Other: This campus also will house a CCSD Hearing Testing Center, which provides a site for students to be evaluated for special services provided by the School District.  The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

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As part of the move, Dean Rusk MS adopted new colors, mascot and logo to align with their feeder high school, Sequoyah.


The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.


July 28 and 29: Open houses and walk-throughs are: Grade 6, Noon to 2 p.m. July 28; Grade 7, 2 to 4 p.m., July 29; Grade 8, 3 to 5 p.m., July 28.  Students will participate in locker opening practice, tour of the facilities and review of their class schedules and other logistics for the new school.

August 1: First day of school; classes are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — these are new hours starting for the 2016-17 School Year.

TBD: A Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be scheduled and open to the entire community… with School Board Members, the Superintendent, CCSD and Dean Rusk MS leaders participating in the festivities.

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Brady Harmon, who will be a sixth-grader at Dean Rusk MS, points out some cool features in the technology lab to his dad, School Board member John Harmon, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, looks on.


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From left to right, School Board Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Assistant Principal Catherine Holman examine pieces manufactured with the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Dean Rusk MS features CCSD’s first Global Learning Theatre, a classroom with movable furniture and six touchscreen flat-panel displays for video-conferencing and other online applications. Assistant Superintendent for Technology Bobby Blount, center, explains the features of the theater, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring and Principal Cindy Cooper look on.

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Dean Rusk MS Principal Cindy Cooper demonstrates one of the touchscreen flat-panel screens in the Global Learning Theatre.

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Assistant Principal Catherine Holman shows Brady Harmon the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Walking down a hallway during the tour are, from left to right, Principal Cindy Cooper, Superintendent Dr. Brian V. Hightower, architect Kenneth Harless, Assistant Principal Catherine Holman, Director of Facility Construction Phil Parrot, and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring. In the foreground you can see the polished concrete floor, which saves on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time