BARTLETT, Tenn. -- Bartlett City Schools cut the ribbon on their new ninth grade academy, in the building that used to house Shadowlawn Middle School.
The newly formed district made the move to put ninth-graders in one building to help ease overcrowding at Bartlett High and utilize space at Shadowlawn, which had much fewer students than it was able to hold.
The district replaced tile, added lockers, and put in lots of Bartlett High colors.
The big reveal seemed to impress most parents, even those who were on the fence about the idea of keeping their kids out of a true high school for another year.
"It's a learning experience and good for them, gives them another year to grow before being thrown to the wolves," said parent Leslie Searcy.
But the students themselves were less forgiving.
"I don't want to start over twice and I feel like it's not going to be the same high school experience if we went to the actual high school," said Bailey Hunt, an incoming ninth-grader at Bartlett Academy.
The idea wasn't just to utilize space the best. Superintendent David Stephens said similar ninth grade schools exist in Texas and do well in helping raise graduation rates.
The school will share some resources with Bartlett High, band representatives said their director will work between both schools, and ninth-graders at the academy will still be part of Bartlett High's band. Athletics is expected to be similar.
It's step one of change as students, parents, and teachers prepare for a whole new district that begins in a little more than a week.