Building a Great School Together in Hickory Hill
“Founding a school is a huge amount of work, but it’s also a huge opportunity. You will always be the first to shape it,” said Jonas G. Cleaves, addressing an eager group of parents and students gathered on a sunny May afternoon in Memphis.
Amid festive balloons and assorted refreshments, Cleaves led a community discussion about Bluff City High School, a new public charter school and the latest addition to the Green Dot Public Schools Tennessee family. Serving the Hickory Hill neighborhood, Bluff City will open its doors this fall with Cleaves at the helm as principal, and campus construction is well underway. During its first year in operation, Bluff City will serve a ninth grade class of 160 students, adding a new grade each subsequent year.
In addition to brand new facilities, exciting academic opportunities await the inaugural crop of incoming freshmen. Bluff City will be one of the only public schools in Memphis to offer a ninth grade physics class as part of its standard curriculum; currently, most require students to attend an optional school or participate in a separate program. Additionally, students interested in exploring the arts will have access to a robust theatre arts program. “As Bluff City grows and adds new grade levels, we will continue expanding its student activity and elective offerings,” said Principal Cleaves.
Cleaves and the Bluff City staff have been working closely with families and the community to create an inviting school, free and open to all, where every family feels welcome and every student’s needs are considered. As such, students registered to attend this fall were invited to help select the school’s new mascot. After an enthusiastic round of campaigning and deliberation, they chose the Grey Wolves; the official school seal and mascot designs will be unveiled later this summer.
As the community discussion came to a close, Principal Cleaves invited attending students to share their thoughts on the new school. “It’s only ninth graders!” exclaimed a smiling girl, Jamiyah P., “Usually, we’d be the youngest ones at our high school, but not this time.” Seated beside Jamiyah, Katelyn H. was delighted that students’ voices are already being heard and valued by school leaders: “It was so cool that we got to vote on the mascot and be involved in making decisions. I really liked that a lot.”
“It was so cool that we got to vote on the mascot and be involved in making decisions. I really liked that a lot.” — Katelyn H., soon-to-be Bluff City ninth grader
There is no cost to attend Bluff City High School, and enrollment is open to all students in the attendance area on a first-come, first-serve basis. Families interested in registering their students to be part of the founding ninth grade class are encouraged to fill out Green Dot’s convenient online enrollment form or visit one of our campuses.