‘New’ Clarkdale Elementary Opens

Principal Marjorie Bickerstaff

Clarkdale Elementary School in Austell begins the new school year in a brand new building, in a new location. The original school was destroyed by the flash flood of 2009 when waters completely covered the building. The new building is about a mile from the original Clarkdale School and not in a flood plain.

Principal Marjorie Bickerstaff continues to lead the school into her 22nd year as Clarkdale Principal. She is delighted with the new building, the extra space, the design and with the additional students who will become a part of the school community.

Many of the students were already part of the former Clarkdale district with others coming into the newly redistricted school. Ms. Bickerstaff is expecting about 680 students. The school is build for 900 with 54 classrooms.

Ms. Bickerstaff had high praise for her staff who acted bravely and quickly when the rising water of 2009 began to encroach on the school.

“The staff formed human lines in the water and passed students; some had to be helped into the water. All students were put on buses and moved safely to a non-flooding location. She had already moved students from the portable classrooms before the water started rising. The flash flood was unprecedented in the south Cobb area.

The building, the furniture, and equipment are all new. But there are some unusual carry-overs from the original building. Clarkdale Elementary had a turtle habitat called Turtle Town. Incorporated into the atrium of the new school is an improved habitat, Regions of Georgia, where six turtles are enjoying their new home. The new habitat was created by landscape architect Tommy Smith and will be an integral part of the school’s curriculum. After the flood waters receded at the old building, staff was able to go inside and save some of the turtles who had survived the flood.

As is done with the habitat, the murals on the walls will be used as teaching tools for the students. Throughout the school, murals trace the history of the town of Clarkdale and the Treadmill. Other murals continue the theme of Georgia history. Principal Bickerstaff and her staff will be involving parents in the school, allowing them to adopt children’s restrooms where they can paint murals related to the curriculum.

The new facility has smart boards in every classroom, all new furniture, and a taste of the art kitchen. The offices have windows and there is much more storage space. The building will allow space for the enrollment to grow without portables.

From the August 2012 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton and Austell, GA.