Buford High School’s first-year principal Lindsey Allen wanted rising seniors to be the first students in the new building. That idea came to fruition Wednesday morning when senior leaders led tours for the class of 2020 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The seniors’ first glimpse of Buford’s new digs came with the privilege of selecting their lockers and parking spaces first. Seniors toured the Performing Arts Center, affectionately known as the PAC, then the classrooms in the high school and athletics facility.
“When you come in you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness,’” senior Jada Caraballo said. “You saw it when they were digging out of the dirt, then we come here and it’s all finished and we’re finally able to attend.”
At the conclusion of the tour, Allen spoke about the legacy the privileged class leads as the first to graduate from the expansive facility. While he was introduced as Buford’s new principal with 20 days left in the 2019 school year, this was his first formal introduction.
“I thought, ‘legacy,’ that was the word that really hit me,” Allen said. “The seniors think about their legacy, what do they want to leave behind? What standard do they want to set for the students who come afterward? The same thing for me, what legacy do I want to set for classes to come afterward? … Also just the honor it is to be able to open this building. That in itself is show-stopping in some ways.”
The routine continued with juniors and sophomores touring the campus later in the day. Freshmen were introduced to their new building Thursday at Fresh Start. The freshman orientation is traditional at Buford every year, just not at the Buford Highway campus. Allen said his message to the incoming freshman class, which skipped over the Sawnee Avenue building from Buford Middle School, was the same.
“The commitment by our board and our community to build these facilities is tremendous,” Allen said. “So we have a responsibility to be our best as students and staff because the community certainly gave us their best.”
By students’ accounts, the former Buford High School was bursting. Hallways were designed for a smaller student body — in population and size, in the case of some of the Division I football prospects — and the hallways were less grid-like.
Some students carried some anxiety about navigating the new building, while others said the new layout and wide bandwidth of the hallways should make getting to class an easier task than at the former school.
“Now that hallways are so wide, we shouldn’t have any problem getting class-to-class,” senior Zeaven Hoxie said.
Students also remarked that the new school seems brighter than the old one, whether the light sources are artificial or natural.
Emma Simpson was enamored with Buford’s new dance studio, which she’ll have the opportunity to practice in for her senior year. The dance team previously practiced in a classroom at the old Buford High School on tile floors. It’s now afforded a hardwood floor with mirrors and rails, more similar to the surface the team will perform on.
“We’re right by the new theater where we’ll be performing,” Simpson said.
Caraballo, a defender and midfielder for the Buford soccer team, had a demonstration of the athletics facility’s whirlpool tubs the week before she was leading tours on Wednesday. The new practice fields are also a good fit for soccer since some of the dimensions of the pitch that Buford previously played on were the minimum-regulation size for a GHSA soccer field.
Hoxie called the school “stately and grand,” and said it’s already been dubbed by some as “Buford University.”
“You want to learn,” he said. “Sometimes you go to high school and you’re kind of dreading being here, but this makes you want to come here every day. That makes for a conducive environment to learn.”
There will be a formal ribbon cutting held at 4 p.m. Sunday on the school’s campus.