By Hannah Wagner
July 29, 2014 marks the first day of school for students in the new Charles R. Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy at the Charlie Yates Campus in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood. The new campus will allow the Drew Charter School to expand to include high school grades, completing the school’s “cradle-to-college” education mission, a goal since the East Lake Foundation began its work in the community in 1995.
“The Drew community has been dreaming of this day for a long time,” said Don Doran, Head of Drew Charter School. “Drew’s successes can now be extended through the high school years, completing the vision for an educational pipeline in East Lake.”
The new facility, designed by local architecture firm Perkins + Will and built by JE Dunn Construction, is located adjacent to the current Drew Charter Elementary Academy campus on East Lake Boulevard and will ultimately serve 1,000 middle and high school students. This will bring Drew’s total student population to almost 2,000 by the 2022-23 school year. The building is on the former “back nine” holes of the public Charlie Yates Golf Course. Notably, it engages neighborhood residents through creative use of recreational spaces that make the school a center for community. The 205,800-square-foot building includes:
- Flexible learning suites to nurture Drew’s STEAM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)
- Project-Based Learning labs for each grade level
- State-of-the-art science, engineering, and design labs
- Integrated performing and visual arts studios
- 525-seat performing arts center serving students and the community
- Two gymnasiums and a full-size track and field for athletics and community wellness
The building is projected to earn LEED Gold certification.
“Possibility takes place, and we are creating infinite possibilities for our students and community with the addition of the Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy,” said Daniel J. Shoy, Jr., president of the East Lake Foundation. “The Drew Charter Senior Academy will prepare our students for college and life. Higher education breaks the intergenerational cycle of poverty. A high-quality, seamless, cradle-to-college pipeline is an essential component for East Lake to sustain the success of its revitalization.”
Charles R. Drew Charter School opened in 2000 as Atlanta’s first charter school. Over the last 14 years, Drew has made great strides in improving academic outcomes as well as providing students with access to arts, technology, sports, and other co-curricular experiences. Today, Drew is ranked among the top elementary and middle schools in the Atlanta Public Schools System, ensuring that children from all backgrounds have access to excellent education.
The East Lake Foundation was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone deserves a chance to succeed. The Foundation collaborates with public and private organizations to provide tools that enable Atlanta’s East Lake residents to build a better future through its model for community revitalization. The East Lake model includes cradle-to-college education at Charles R. Drew Charter School, East Lake Sheltering Arms Education Center, the Early Learning Academy at the East Lake Family YMCA, the Cox Pre-K Program at Drew Charter School, mixed-income housing at The Villages of East Lake, and community wellness through programs including The First Tee® of East Lake, the East Lake Community Learning Garden, and a partnership with the East Lake Family YMCA. This approach to building a strong community not only helps break the cycle of poverty, but creates a place where people of all ages and incomes choose to live. East Lake has become a model for integrated community revitalization programs across the country and a community where possibility takes place.