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Denmark High reaches construction milestone with topping out ceremony
Bearden Speaking 2 WEB

Developing Denmark by the numbers

43: Miles of electrical conduit
118: Acres of campus land
120: Instructional units
240+: Work days with no injuries
570: Seats in the auditorium
15,000: Tons of steel
2,500: School capacity
2,500: Seats in the gymnasium
10,000: Cubic yards of concrete
400,000: Blocks and bricks so far

SOUTHWEST FORSYTH -- A sea of white hard hats lined the tables in Denmark High School’s soon-to-be band room, the tanned faces of about 300 construction workers smiling, the men proudly donning their yellow vests.

“Today, we’re celebrating the present,” said Chris Torchia, senior project director for Barton Malow Company. “We’ve achieved an important milestone by having 300 trade workers so far who’ve spent time and hard work that has brought us safely to where we are today.”

On Friday, Denmark, which will be Forsyth County’s sixth brick-and-mortar high school, held a topping out ceremony at the school, a tradition where the last steel beam is placed on a structure that is being built.

Work began in June 2016 after Barton Malow was awarded a $72.1 million contract earlier that year to build the facility, which is located between Mullinax Road and Atlanta Highway (Hwy. 9) in southwest Forsyth.

“We can look at this project in a number of ways — we can look at it by the numbers,” Torchia said. “We have celebrated over 240 safe working days without an injury; that is a fantastic job. We have had a quarter of a million man hours invested in this construction project. We have had 10,000 cubic yards of concrete, 15,000 tons of steel and 400,000 blocks and bricks so far.”

The school was named in honor of Dr. Leila Denmark, one of the first female pediatricians in Georgia, and her legacy, according to Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden.

“She lived and operated her last local office adjacent to this 118-acre campus between Fowler and Mullinax [roads],” Bearden said. “She worked with researchers at Emory University, helping to develop the successful vaccination for the whooping cough back in 1932. She retired at the age of 103, and when she retired, she was the oldest practicing physician in the entire country.

“Dr. Denmark passed away in 2012 as the fifth-oldest living person in the world; she was 114 years old. She left an amazing legacy, and we are so proud to name this school after her and I know that [Principal Heather] Gordy [newly appointed to transfer from the same position at West Forsyth High] will work with her faculty and staff to ensure that students who attend and graduate from Denmark High School will understand and appreciate the remarkable person for which this school has been named.”

Project funding for Denmark comes out of a $195 million bond Forsyth voters approved in May 2014, which also helped fund the construction of DeSana Middle and Brandywine Elementary schools — they both opened for this school year in August 2017.

A seventh public high school, the Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County, is being constructed on 400 Lanier Parkway in Cumming. The majority of the funding for the career and workforce development school comes from the Forsyth County Public Facilities Authority, which is not related to the 2014 bond.

Bearden said the new schools are much needed — both are on track to open in August 2018.

“Currently, we are overcapacity at several of our high schools,” he said. “By opening Denmark, we’re going to be able to alleviate some overcrowding, which is critically important. For example, South Forsyth High School next year will probably be home to about 3,300 students; that’s way too many students for that campus.

“We need Denmark to alleviate that overcrowding.”

At full capacity, Denmark will hold 2,500 students and will also offer career pathway programs not offered at any other of the county’s schools.

“We’re going to have an animal science program here, which we do not have at any of our existing high schools,” Bearden said. “This facility and the land we have here really aligns itself well for that particular program. We have a lot of students interested in being a veterinarian or working at an animal hospital, whatever the case may be, and they’re going to have that opportunity.”