ASHBURN, GA (WALB) - Turner County Middle School students joined faculty and staff to mark a milestone for the school system Thursday.
After at least a dozen years of having the middle and high schools housed under the same roof, that concept is no more.
"Having these children being able to express their identities in their own building and their own ownership was very important," said Dr. Jeff McDaniel, Turner County School Superintendent.
Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, 6th through 8th graders will attend school on Gilmore Street at a place they can call their own.
The building most recently housed the alternative school.
Renovations over the summer made way for 12 academic classrooms plus other special labs.
However, the change is not just about separating the middle school from the high school.
The 6th graders will essentially be on their own in the ACE Academy (Academic & Community Excellence).
"We're going to enhance our students' ability through community engagement," said Principal Bernice Martin.
"Kind of get under their belt a year of middle school, all the ins and outs of being in middle school, and then we let them join in the 7th grade," said Dr. McDaniel.
The whole goal with all of these changes is the school's motto: Graduation is our Motivation.
"When they are not behaving appropriately, I ask them, what's your motivation, and they all know graduation, and so that kind of gives them a focus," said Martin.
"I'm going to be nervous on the first few days," said Jaquan Williams, an upcoming 6th grade student.
"It's a great transition for the young kids to grow, and be separated from the high schoolers," said Hopson Williams, a parent of a new 6th grade student.
Turner County Students go back to school on Friday, August 4.
The 9th grade students will have their own academy as well, separate from the 10th through 12th graders at Turner County High.
Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.