New Findlay Elementary School is ready for students beginning Jan. 6

Posted By | December 30, 2019 8:56 am

The new state-of-the-art Findlay Elementary School will be officially open for students, teachers, and staff, on Jan. 6, 2020.

By Rachel Auberger

When school resumes on Jan. 6, 2020, students at Findlay Elementary School will all be seated in new classrooms.

“We are excited to be opening this new school, in Sparta, not only for the Findlay family but for all of White County,” Kurt Dronebarger, director of schools, said as he welcomed the community to the new facility during an open house, on Dec. 23. “This state-of-the-art facility is a testament to our school board’s commitment to excellence. We know that the community will be proud of this school and that it will serve the students of Sparta well for decades to come.”

The new school building is located at 560 Hale St., just across the street from the one that housed thousands of Findlay Falcons since 1964. Hundreds of students, parents, and community members toured the facility that houses not only new classrooms but a story-telling theater, a state-of-the-art maker space (STEM lab); community spaces or neighborhoods;  and project areas among other areas designed to meet their new theme, “The Findlay Learning Factory.”

Samuel Price likes the reading nooks in the new library. See more photos on 7A and 1B (Photos by RACHEL AUBERGER)

“The building was designed to be able to enlighten the students and to get the students more involved in their education,” school board chairman Jayson McDonald said.  “The maker space and project areas are designed to get the kids to take ownership of their learning. The library, with its story-telling theater, is designed to get the kids involved in reading. The neighborhoods are designed so that teachers can teach outside of the classroom. That’s the goal: student-involved learning, not strictly in-the-classroom teaching.”

“The faculty, staff, and students are all excited to begin the second half of our school year in this beautiful new building,” Findlay Elementary principal Rebecca Ryan said. “We are looking forward to new opportunities that this facility will bring us.”

During the open house, in addition to self-guided tours and the director of schools welcoming the community and thanking the school board members for their foresight into the future education of the students of White County, the gymnasium where the Findlay Falcons will play their home basketball games, but more importantly where tens of thousands of students will learn and grow over the years to come, was dedicated to Kellie Jolly Harper, the former Findlay Falcon who is now head coach for the Lady Vols.

Anniston Pryor loves the kindergarten neighborhood.

“When constructing this school, we saw it fitting to not only honor Coach Harper for her accomplishments but also to inspire future generations of Findlay Falcons,” Dronebarger said. “Coach Harper’s rise to basketball greatness began in a little gym across the street. We want the students who pass through these halls to know that with some hard work, perseverance, and a lot of free throws, they, too, can reach for the stars and grab ahold of them.”

Harper expressed her joy in the memories she has of being a Findlay Falcon and said that it was because of the experiences that she had during her time in the old gym that she has been so successful.

“It started my love of winning here at Findlay,” Harper said. “There is no doubt that [that] pushed me and inspired me to be where I am today. If I hadn’t had a great time as a basketball player in elementary school, if it hadn’t been fun then, I wouldn’t be standing here right now. I oftentimes look back and think about small moments in your life and how that can change you. I am very fortunate to be a Findlay alum.”

As the daughter of an educator, Harper said she understands how important this new facility is.

“This is an unbelievably beautiful school,” she said. “l am so happy for these students and future students here in Sparta to have this. I am really proud for Findlay and proud for this community.”

When school resumes, on Jan. 6, 2020, the students and faculty of Findlay Elementary won’t be the only ones at a new location. According to Dronebarger, the Alternative School Program, the Family Resource Program, and Adult Education will all begin in the previous location of Findlay Elementary School. Dronebarger said the buildings at the site of the “old middle school” will become the property of the county government, and their future use will be decided by the county commission.

“As the director of schools, I tell people all the time that you can go anywhere in this world that you want to from Sparta,” Dronebarger said, as he expressed his faith in the entire White County education system. “The education is strong, the facilities are great, and the people are the best.”

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