There’s no doubt this is a novel year at Lanier High, the newest high school in the Gwinnett County Public Schools family. You see it everywhere, from the immaculately clean hallways to the first athletic events even down to the inaugural year golf shirts worn by some staff members.
It’s a year of firsts, which is a big draw to many of the nearly 850 students at the school. Only incoming freshmen were required to attend Lanier, located on Buford Highway a few miles from Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. But there are students in the other classes as well who have chosen to be at the new school.
Getting to be a participant instead of a bystander is major reason why.
“I chose to come here so I could play soccer,” said sophomore James Pearson, who could have continued at North Gwinnett. “When you’re looking at colleges, they want to see you involved in clubs (and extracurricular activities). It’s definitely easier at a place where there’s not as much competition.
“Just being a part of the yearbook (staff) is special.”
Being on the yearbook staff puts Pearson and his fellow members in a unique position. Someone has to chronicle this season of firsts, and as the yearbook staff compiles photos and captions it will be helping to not only make Lanier’s history, but record it as well.
That trailblazing mentality also appeals to the teachers. Taylor Cross is in his second year as a full-time teacher, coming to Lanier after working for a year at Peachtree Ridge. Like many of his students, Cross was drawn to the new school for the opportunities it provides.
“At Peachtree Ridge I was just a teacher, but now I coach two sports and I’m the yearbook (advisor),” Cross said. “You can participate in more things here and you feel part of more things.
“When you look at our staff, people wanted to be here. There are a lot of people who wanted to be part of this.”
With the yearbook group working from scratch, a full-blown school newspaper has been put on hold. Cross’ class is putting out an online paper but is devoting the majority of its time to putting together Lanier’s inaugural yearbook.
It’s a lot of work but a fun challenge for Cross and his students to build the foundation for future editions.
“The way I look at it we’re setting the standard,” Cross said. “Hopefully I’ll have a lot of these same kids the next few years because a lot of them are freshmen.
“It’s fun to be part of something new. Everyone is building. It does (a lot) for morale.”
Over the years, Lanier’s history will continue to unfold, but this inaugural group of Longhorns will always have the distinction of writing the first chapter.
E-mail Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.