East Lake celebrates groundbreaking of charter school
January 15, 2013
ATLANTA– Ground was broken today to officially mark the start of construction on the Charles R. Drew Charter School Senior Academy at the Charlie Yates Campus in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood. Drew Charter School opened in 2000 as the first charter school in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) system and currently serves nearly 1,000 students from Pre-K through grade eight. Adding the Senior Academy, grades nine through twelve, completes the school’s “cradle-to-college” education mission, a goal since the East Lake Foundation began its work in the East Lake community in 1995. In July, the APS Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment to Drew’s charter, authorizing the school’s expansion.
“Today, we realized a dream we’ve had for many years,” said Drew Board Chair Dr. Cynthia Kuhlman. “Our goal is to see 100% of Drew students graduate from this high school and move on to success in higher education and careers.” When Drew opened in 2000, it ranked last among elementary schools in the APS system. Now, the Drew Junior Academy (grades six through eight) is ranked first. Drew is also ranked first in the State of Georgia among the 301 elementary schools and 134 middle schools that serve a majority population of low-income, African-American students.
The new facility, designed by local firm Perkins + Will, will be located adjacent to the current Drew campus on East Lake Boulevard and will ultimately serve 1,000 Junior and Senior Academy students, bringing Drew’s total student population to almost 2,000. The construction site is on the former “back nine” holes of the public Charlie Yates Golf Course. The LEED-certified building will include:
- Flexible learning suites to nurture collaboration
- Seven project learning labs and seven state-of-the-art science labs
- Two specialty labs for engineering and design
- Integrated arts studios
- 500 seat performing arts center serving Drew and the East Lake community
- Two gymnasiums and a full size track and field for athletics and community wellness
With over $60 million committed to date to the $73 million project, the school will be built at no cost to APS. Funding has come from foundations, corporate and individual donors dedicated to excellence in education, including the CF Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The State of Georgia has also supported Drew Charter School through Race to the Top grants.
Drew Senior Academy’s first freshman class of 100 will begin classes this summer in a temporary facility. Drew leaders are working closely with APS to determine where that temporary facility will be located. The new building will open with the start of classes in summer, 2014. Freshman classes will be added each year for the next four years, until the first class graduates in 2017. Once at full enrollment, Drew Senior Academy at the Charlie Yates Campus will serve 600 students in grades nine through twelve.
Renowned amateur golfer Charlie Yates once lived on the site where the school will be built and the East Lake Foundation has chosen to honor Yates’ contributions to East Lake by designating the grounds as “the Charlie Yates campus.” Yates, who learned the sport from Bobby Jones and who played in the first Masters Tournament, attended Boys High School of Atlanta and Georgia Tech. He won the Georgia State Amateur in 1931 and 1932 and in 1934, won the NCAA individual title. The following year, he won the Western Amateur and in 1938, the British Amateur. In 1936 and 1938, he played on the US Walker Cup Team, which he captained in 1953 and served as an honorary captain in 1985. Yates passed away in 2005. His family, including wife Dorothy, has remained involved in both Drew Charter School and the East Lake neighborhood.
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