Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology
It was a unanimous decision when the students and staff from an Atlanta, Georgia school were asked to select a name for a new magnet school. The Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology was picked after following the DeKalb County School District’s naming process. It was the first school in Georgia to be named after the president according to published reports at the time. The school site, in Decatur in South DeKalb County, was where the former Clifton Elementary School stood. It serves grades pre-K to 5 and has the capacity to serve between 700 to 900 students.
The school opened its doors earlier this year for more than 800 students.
A school board member and the regional superintendent chaired the naming committee, which also included two area principals, staff, parents and representatives of the local faith community. The district announced the name in July 2016 along with details of the new $23 million facility.
The news was announced by the DeKalb County School District, and was a nod to honor the 44th president. “President Obama’s public career and his family commitment offer inspiration to our students and staff,” said Dr. Melvin Johnson, school board chair. “The name on this school will remind us every day of the importance of these attributes in being good citizens.”
Echoing those themes was district superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green. “President Obama embodies a strong family, hard work, and education as the means of getting ahead. These values are reflected in the DeKalb County School District and are the keys to college and career readiness.”
The school is described as a multi-cultural technological school that provides students with a total education in areas of academic, social and emotional learning and houses a Technology Magnet Program in grades 3-5 and a Kindergarten Immersion Program.
Since opening, Sprint announced that 200 third and fourth graders were granted free internet connectivity through Wi-Fi hotspots over the next five years, a program valued at $480,000. Research shows that five million families with school age children do not have internet connectivity at home. In the state of Georgia, according to the DeKalb School District, about 60% of the students live in low income households and qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
New in the spring 2017 is a beautification program with area sponsors including Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Kroeger that aims to create a safe and attractive learning environment for students at Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology.
The excitement of the new school was extended to the wider Atlanta community in television news reports about the new school which welcomed students on January 5, the first day following the winter holiday break, and the subsequent ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Principal Angela Bethea shared her personal excitement, “In an African American community to bear the name of the first African American President of the United States is just profoundly significant for us.”