New year, new school: West Ridge set to open campus on Monday

Back To School

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – On Monday, Sullivan County students will return to school but three of the campuses the county has known for decades, Sullivan North, South, and Central, will be no more.

Instead, a new school, West Ridge High School, will welcome nearly 2,000 students, mixing these former rivals onto one campus.

“I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t get along after being rivals for so long, but I think it will be a great new thing,” said West Ridge sophomore Holly Vicars.

With any new school year comes nerves, but especially even more jitters when you combine a new school with a new school year.

“I was originally kind of nervous about it because I wasn’t sure about all the other schools coming together and how that would work, but so far, anything that we’ve all done together, we’ve all gotten along really well,” said West Ridge junior Rachel Cartmel.

Interim Director of Sullivan County Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said teachers were able to see the campus for the first time within the past few weeks and the reaction was exactly what she hoped for.

“I really saw a sense of excitement amongst them, a seal of approval if you will, that they like the spaces,” said Rafalowski.

Some select students were also able to get a sneak peek ahead of the first day of classes, and in a way, it made them even more excited for the school year to begin.

“I thought it was really nice, it looked really good. I think they put a lot of hard work into it,” said West Ridge freshman Libby VanBuren.

While these students will remember they were a part of West Ridge’s inaugural year, for VanBuren, being the first class to go all four years at West Ridge is extra special.

“It’s going to be really cool because we are going to be the first people to go all the way through,” said VanBuren.

Rafalowski said the thing she is looking forward to the most is the student’s reaction to the campus on the first day.

“This is their school. We want them to be a part of it, and more than anything, we want them to be proud of it and proud of us,” she said.

With traffic a concern the first day of classes, West Ridge will actually open this school year using a “staggered start”.

The district told News Channel 11 only juniors and seniors will attend on Monday & Wednesday followed by only freshmen and sophomores on Tuesday and Thursday.

The entire student body comes together for the first time on Friday, Aug. 13.

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