NORTH FULTON, Ga. – The first look at the North STEM High School in Alpharetta was presented to the Fulton County School Board this month, depicting an entirely new plan for the old Milton High campus, while retaining elements of the past.
The open enrollment high school, which will focus on a science, technology, engineering and math, is scheduled to open in August 2020 on the campus of the former Milton High in downtown Alpharetta.
The school will be open to students from across Fulton County, and career pathways will be offered in health sciences, information technology and engineering.
In early August, school board members were presented the schematic drawings of the campus. The board approved the plans on Aug. 17 paving the way for final drawings.
The design of the campus came together after meetings with key constituents to determine the optimal layout to meet the educational needs of students, as well as for the business community.
“This is a little more ‘out of the box’ than a prototypical high school ... so we really listened throughout the entire process to teachers, individuals in the community, business leaders, the school board [and others],” explained Patrick Burke, deputy superintendent for Operations.
While the old school buildings will be razed to make way for new buildings, the campus will retain the athletic and recreation spaces, including baseball, softball and football fields. School officials said those fields continue to be used by the public and play an important role in the community.
The school will encompass 243,000 square feet, including an auditorium, with a capacity of 1,500 students drawn from the 10 high schools across the system.
Nate Williamson of Cooper Carry, the architectural firm for the project, said the campus also demonstrates the school system’s goal of working with Alpharetta on its plans for downtown revitalization.
“Alpharetta is going through an effort to recreate a historical downtown and this school is obviously a fundamental part of the downtown area,” Williamson said. “Moving the buildings to the front of the site gives it a really strong, traditional identity that is important to the project.”
An expansive courtyard entrance flanked by two wings of the school provides a welcoming entrance into the school, he noted. The main building is three stories, with two separate, one-story buildings containing the engineering program and an auditorium.
A unique feature of the STEM Campus is combining the cafeteria and media center — two areas that are often underused throughout the day — into one “touchdown space” for students use.
“The idea is to provide a full day of space utilization for studying or collaboration,” Williamson said. “Combining these spaces together can really create a high-energy environment for students.”
Another feature is a one-stop area where guidance counselors, social workers, career center staff and administrators are located to help students with career and curriculum issues.
“This is front and center,” Williamson said. “When you have students from 10 different schools [going through] a rigorous curriculum it’s really important.”
The North STEM campus is funded by the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved by voters in the May 2016. The schools will be open to all students, and will help alleviate overcrowding at North Fulton’s traditional high schools. A South STEM high school opens in 2021.