The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) welcomed over 150 parents and family members to its newly renovated facility at an Open House celebration.
Officials said CGLA has a lot to celebrate this year: CGLA’s enrollment has grown to 249 students, and the school recently expanded and renovated its facility to accommodate this growth, adding a new Science Wing with a state-of-the-art lab, art room, music room, lecture hall, and 10 new classrooms.
As parents, grandparents, and siblings of students walked the freshly painted halls decorated with student work, pride in CGLA and its students swelled, it was stated.
“This work is dreams, turned into reality – seeing all the student work and teacher led projects on the walls,” stated Dr. Elaine Swafford, CGLA Executive Director. “This is how a school should look and feel – warm and welcoming.” But the pictures, posters, and graphs are only a hint of the real learning and incredible academic gains the students have displayed over the past year.
During the Open House presentation, in between performances by the sixth grade choir and the high school “Singessence” ensemble, Dr. Swafford explained another reason why the CGLA community is celebrating: last year, in its fourth year of operation, students’ TCAP scores improved so significantly that CGLA was designated as a reward school by Governor Bill Haslam for being in the top five percent of Tennessee schools for academic growth. In some subjects, test scores improved by as much as 63 percent.
“I say to students often, they are smart and they can learn at high levels. It is fantastic to see them realizing that’s true,” said Dr. Swafford to a standing-room-only crowd in the spacious new music room. “Now we must maintain this level of performance and improve upon it.” With cheers and applause, the parents and students showed their agreement.
After the presentation, families toured the school, sixth grade students signed up at the SunTrust Youth Bank, seniors learned about college visits, and parents met the faculty members who eagerly explained what the students have been doing for the past several weeks, in addition to the goals for the remainder of the year. Parents like Ms. Hubbard, whose tenth grade daughter has attended CGLA since it opened in 2009, were very supportive. After meeting with Mr. Collins, the Chorus Instructor, and learning about the choir’s upcoming performances in the community, Ms. Hubbard looked around the new facility.
“I love it. I love it,” she said. “I’m glad that they finally got some labs and a bigger chorus room. Other high schools have labs. CGLA students need those same things so they can learn at that level.”
Just outside the music room, another CGLA parent pulled aside Sue Anne Wells, co-founder of CGLA, to relay her and her daughter’s CGLA story and the impact the school has had on their family.
“It is so encouraging to hear stories like Ms. Brown’s. It is confirmation that CGLA is truly impacting the lives of the girls, their families, and the community in positive ways,” said Ms. Wells.