Parents and students get sneak peek at Sullivan East Middle School

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BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Parents and students got a sneak peek at the Tri-Cities’ newest school Monday night. The first day of classes at Sullivan East Middle School will happen Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The new school combines students mid-year from Bluff City, Mary Hughes, and Holston Valley Middle Schools.

“It’s very exciting to see the new school, where we’re going to be going and the classrooms are huge,” said seventh-grader Baylee Bebber.

Tuesday morning- she will go from being a Bluff City Middle School student to a Sullivan East Middle schooler.

“Where we’re going in a new environment it will be a little confusing at first,” said Baylee.

Monday night’s open house brought excitement and jitters since Tuesday morning will be like the first day of school- all over again.

“We loved Bluff City but I think its good for the entire community to come together as one,” said Baylee’s mom, Brianna Bebber. “It’s beginning a whole new year within the same year and I think that’s nerve-wracking for the kids because its a big difference and they’re not knowing what to expect yet.”

Teachers from all three schools will also be combining.

“We have put in a lot of time and effort, planning to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said principal Greg Stallcup. “We were very good at the beginning … to make sure the communication between all three schools was open and those teachers were communicating with each other at different schools, so when the students came together as one there wouldn’t be any gaps in their learning.”

The school has new athletic facilities, labs, a robotics classroom and a commons area connecting the cafeteria to the library.

“One unique feature of our school is the learning commons area. It is next to the cafeteria,” says principal Greg Stallcup. “Students during lunch- they have the opportunity to over there. They can eat their lunch in there, read a book over there, check out some other instructional materials.”

A whole new experience that’s been years in the making.

“We built a school at the other end of the county in 1980,” said Sullivan County School Board Chair Michael Hughes. He says the last time a new school was built in the East zone was in the 1960s.

Hughes this building was designed to change as technology evolves and helps the county financially.

“From a financial standpoint it puts us on a good footing for the next 50 years,” said Hughes. “We’re going to close two buildings that were underutilized and in really bad shape and would’ve taken millions and millions to fix.”

Hughes and Stallcup both say this week is all about learning and adjusting at Sullivan East Middle School. If you’re in the area, traffic will be affected for the next few days.

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