New Year, New School

‘Super exciting’ to welcome about ‘900’ students to Hardin Valley Middle School

Hardin Valley Middle School staff members already have been at work, bringing in books, supplies and furniture to get ready for the first day at their new school.

While the first day for students is Wednesday, Aug. 8, HVMS principal Dr. Cory Smith and faculty were meeting new parents and students July 11 — the day after the school’s ribbon cutting — to register.

“It’s super exciting,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things where it’s been in the planning stages and I hadn’t had a school for a year. I’ve been working at the central office.

“And to come out here and have my office established, have (students) registered for classes and teachers moving in, the excitement level is pretty high,” he added.

Smith was principal at Rocky Hill Elementary School before he was appointed June 2017 as HVMS principal.

Since then, he and other administrative team members have been planning everything from scheduling to picking out the logos, nickname — the Hawks, the same as Hardin Valley Academy and school colors navy blue, royal blue and gray. “All the things that go into opening a new school,” Smith said. “It’s (also) attending construction meetings, looking at their plans for the building and how they are laying things out.

“It’s been nice to have some input on that,” he added.

“What an exciting opportunity,” said Merry Anderson, who came from Karns Middle and will be teaching eighth-grade English-language arts at HVMS. “I think it’s going to be a different kind of journey, but I’m excited about it.”

Knox County Schools is projecting HVMS will open with 800 students.

However, “I think we’ll be closer to 900,” Smith said. “Our capacity is 1,200.

“It’s one of those things where not only do you get to open the school, but every year you get to add more students, more staff,” he added. “So for the next two or three years, every year is going to be just a little different — adding a little twist to the year that wasn’t there prior to that.

“I think the excitement will keep rolling right to the next few years, for sure.”

To serve the students, Smith said he initially is looking at a staff of 64 — from cafeteria crew and custodians to teachers.

Hiring certified personnel was “quite a long process,” he noted. “I did almost 200 interviews in the last three months.

“I think we will top out at about 80 (in staff) … within three years,” he added.

While all certified staff members are hired, he noted, “Knox County would love some cafeteria folks and custodians.”

The school also has a Parent-Teacher Organization formed. Its president is Maggie Connatser; vice president is Wendi Pollack; secretary, Beth Souders; treasurer, Jaime Rome; and parliamentarian, Amy Bush.

Along with traditional classes, HVMS will have band, a keyboarding class, a technology class, and health, physical education, chorus, orchestra and German classes.

The school will offer Knox County Schools-sanctioned sports such as cheerleading, boys and girls basketball and boys and girls track.

Smith said sports such as soccer, baseball and football, fall under community sports handled through recreation leagues.

Clubs will include a National Junior Honor Society, as well as science, yearbook and journalism clubs.

“With (the school) being brand new, we’re excited to see what the teachers and students bring to us for ideas, too,” Smith said. “We’ll continue to build on those activities as people bring ideas to us.”