On Aug. 23, Atlanta Public Schools officials, principals, and students in the Grady Cluster joined alumni from David T. Howard High School and members of the Atlanta Board of Education to celebrate a special “topping out” ceremony to mark a major milestone in the construction of the new Howard Middle School facility.
Held to mark the placement of the highest beam of the building, the ceremony took place on the construction site of the school, which had been the old Howard High School before it was closed in 1976. Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen also attended the ceremony, which was hosted by Parrish Construction Group. Nearly 300 guests were in attendance.
During the ceremony, Dr. Carstarphen addressed the profound legacy of the David T. Howard building, whose famous alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who attended Howard when it was an elementary school; and prominent graduates such as Walter “Clyde” Frazier, NBA Hall of Fame member; Maynard H. Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor; Vernon Jordan, a successful businessman and former advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter; and Mildred McDaniel Singleton, the only woman to win a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in track and field (high jump).
“With the love and support of the alumni and the school board and the Grady Cluster community, we are now going to have David T. Howard back online,” Dr. Carstarphen told the audience. “Dr. King said, ‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’ It is in that spirit, everyone has taken the first step – picked up a hammer, written an article, took a picture. You have put your own blood, sweat and tears into this legacy school.”
A $52 million renovation and expansion of the campus designed by architects Stevens & Wilkinson, Inc., Parrish Construction is converting the building into a middle school to relieve overcrowding in the Grady Cluster. When Howard Middle School opens in the fall of 2020, it will be the middle school for the Grady Cluster.