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A Grand Unveiling

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It is easy to get caught up in the splashy numbers when exploring Collierville’s new high school, which is the largest in the state.
Whether its the $94 million price tag or the expansive 450,000-square-foot campus on 158 acres, Collierville High School will always be associated with generous figures.
There are 107 classrooms, 18 vocational classrooms, eight science labs, four music classrooms and numerous computer labs equipped to accommodate more than 3,000 students.
However, the school’s mission is singular — to make sure that every student graduates with an advanced education in alignment with their career path, whether that be in the form of college credits or industry certifications.
The school, which was officially opened to the public on Sunday afternoon, has something for virtually everyone and was built with the town’s expanding population in mind.
“This new high school is a model for the future of public education,” Superintendent John Aitken said Saturday while guiding a school tour for local media outlets. “Every student has a space to learn and hone their skills here, meaning every graduate of Collierville High School will leave with applicable job skills. That’s an enormous accomplishment.”

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While there is a noticeable absence of lockers down the hallways of the school’s five major wings, there are 200 security cameras mounted in the ceilings and video monitors on the walls. The monitors will feature a map of the school for the first week of school, which begins on Aug. 13.
Collierville Schools Chief of Staff Jeff Jones said lockers will not be necessary at the new school as most of the student’s resources will be digital. Every student will be issued a MacBook Air.
At the center of the facility is a large seal that includes the verbiage “truth” and “honor.”
“We’re trying to start a tradition of not stepping on ‘truth and honor,’” Aitken said. “We’ll see how that goes.”
The main building includes three gymnasiums, a 1,000-seat auditorium and a cafeteria that can also accommodate 1,000 students and faculty members.
While the athletic complex isn’t yet complete, it will include a 5,000-seat stadium, six tennis courts, a lacrosse field, fields and field houses for baseball, softball and soccer, and a 50-yard indoor practice field.
Those entering the school through the main doors are welcomed by warm rays of natural light from the building’s massive clerestory windows. The words “scholarship, integrity and service” are painted within the maroon walls of the entryway.
A large courtyard separates the media room and cafeteria and will be used to host events. Students will also enjoy the courtyard between classes and teachers can host outdoor lectures.
A 150-seat community room closely resembles a college lecture hall and will be used to host community events.
“We see it as a bridge between the town and the school,” Aitken said.
The school also features a four-bay auto workshop and a commercial grade kitchen for culinary arts courses.
Aitken said the scale of the school is necessary due to soaring enrollment within the school district.
The high school is expecting its largest class of freshman in district history this year. Aitken expects around 750 freshman to register this week.
“The school is a direct reflection of where Collierville is going,” Aitken said. “The citizens of Collierville have put their money where there mouth is.”
See pages 2-3 of The Independent for more pictures of the new high school.

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