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Ahead of the class
Construction on track for 5 new schools
Lambert 9 es
Lambert High School Principal Gary Davison gives Lisa Kirk a tour of the school’s athletic complex Thursday. Kirk is chairwoman of the school’s career technology and business academy. - photo by Emily Saunders
At a glance

How much did the new schools cost to build and from where will they be drawing students:

• Brookwood Elementary: about $14.1 million, will relieve Big Creek, Sharon and Johns Creek elementary schools

• Whitlow Elementary: about $17 million, will relieve Shiloh Point, Cumming and Vickery Creek elementary schools

• Haw Creek Elementary: about $20 million, will relieve Settles Bridge, Daves Creek and Mashburn elementary schools

• Lakeside Middle: about $22 million, will relieve South Forsyth and Riverwatch middle schools

• Lambert High: about $55 million, will relieve Forsyth Central and South Forsyth high schools

Source: Forsyth County Schools
Lambert High is off to a good start. Visitors need look no further than its administrator’s school spirit.

Gary Davison is principal of the new school, one of five the Forsyth County school system plans to open in August.

“I’ve got a really neat opportunity because my first 10 graduating classes are students I had in elementary school,” said Davison, who served as assistant principal from 2002 to 2003 and principal from 2003 to 2006 at Settles Bridge Elementary.

Davison also worked as principal of South Forsyth High School from 2006 until 2008, when he was tapped to open Lambert.

“To see them graduate kindergarten and then graduate high school is pretty rare for a principal,” he said.

Located on 96 acres off Nichols Road in south Forsyth, Lambert shares its campus with Sharon Elementary School. The Lambert property also is the site of a bus maintenance shop.

Walt Fairchild, the school system’s construction coordinator, explained that Lambert’s design is essentially the same as West Forsyth High. Because of the shape of the site, however, the layout is different.

“The main building is the same [as West] with the exception of the deletion of the automotive tech lab and cosmetology, which allows for two additional classrooms and two additional business labs [at Lambert],” he said.
The athletic facilities at Lambert also are in a different position in relation to the main building.

Fairchild said construction should be finished by May at Lambert, as well as at Haw Creek Elementary and Lakeside Middle on Echols Road.

Whitlow Elementary on Castleberry Road is complete. Brookwood Elementary on Vaughn Drive should be finished in February.

Fairchild said Haw Creek’s design is a modified version of the school system’s two-story elementary schools: Johns Creek, Sharon and Shiloh Point.

Viewed from the air, they resemble an “H.”

“To reduce the exterior walls, we have pushed the ‘H’ classroom wings together and added side lights into the classrooms, because now some of the classrooms don’t have exterior windows,” he said. “This is a cost-reduction measure.”

Fairchild said Brookwood, a one-story facility, employs the same design as Silver City and Whitlow elementary schools.

“Two-story designs are used in areas of the county where we need a new school but the availability and cost of land makes the property size we can afford or assemble too small for a one-story design,” he explained.

Lakeside is designed like Little Mill and Piney Grove middle schools.

According to information provided by Jennifer Caracciolo, school system spokeswoman, the total construction cost for all five schools is about $128 million.

System leaders hope staff and students at all the new schools will be as pleased with the facilities as are Davison and Lisa Kirk, chair of Lambert’s new career technology and business academy. Davison took Kirk on a tour of the school Thursday.

Both beamed with pride as they traveled the hallways, checking out all the nooks and crannies.

Kirk, who is joining the Longhorn team from South, where she has been a marketing and DECA adviser since 2004, was impressed with the school and especially pleased with her new classroom.

“I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words.”

Kirk said fellow future Longhorns with whom she has spoken also are excited about Lambert and ready to follow Davison’s lead.

She said she plans to market the school and hopes to have the surrounding community “Longhorned” as well.

E-mail Julie Arrington at