The 22,300 square foot facility was completed at a cost of $3.1 million by Culpepper Construction Company. The entire project was funded by proceeds of the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passed by Thomas County citizens in 2012. The building was designed by Jinright, Ryan, and Lynn Architects of Thomasville with Leon Lynn being the principal architect.
The new building includes school offices, a spacious indoor commons area, a fully equipped science lab with exhaust hood, a 28-station computer lab, a cafeteria and kitchen, and seven classrooms. The building adjoins the fully renovated former Central High School gymnasium which will serve as a physical education facility for the charter school. The gym includes a full basketball court, a renovated classroom for health and personal fitness, locker rooms and a weight room.
Each classroom is equipped with an interactive SmartBoard and Wi-Fi internet access. A nearly $1 million grant provided by the State of Georgia will equip the building with the latest technology and will provide every student the use of a netbook which will provide students access to their electronic textbooks, the school’s new electronic library, and dozens of on-line courses that are supported by fully certified teachers.
The school kitchen will also provide meals for Thomas County’s Pathways Program and the Renaissance Center.
The school has an opening enrollment of approximately 175 students with an anticipated maximum enrollment of 200.
Bishop Hall Charter School was founded on the campus of Vashti in 1999 by the Thomas County School System.
Dr. Terrel Solana who was superintendent of the Thomas County School System at the time that Bishop Hall was founded and who now serves as chair of the Bishop Hall board reflected on the history of the school: “Some fifteen years ago we had the idea that by providing a nurturing, caring environment, individualized instruction and attention, and utilizing as partners, the resource agencies in our county; students who had not been successful in traditional programs would flourish. Through the efforts of the Thomas County School System, an extremely dedicated Bishop Hall staff, and a wealth of community support this has, indeed, happened. This vision has remained the same, but with the opening of the new Bishop Hall School, the facilities, technology, and opportunities have far surpassed what anyone could imagine. Through the vision and resourcefulness of those in charge, this school is really “cutting edge,” and I am just pleased and proud that they have allowed me to stay connected in a small way. I would like to commend the administration, staff, and faculty for this wonderful addition to the educational opportunities for the children of Thomas County.”
Since its founding in 1999, more than 415 students who would likely not have graduated from a traditional school have been able to graduate due to the unique curriculum design and wrap-around services that are offered to students through the charter school.
The school’s mission statement is to offer educational and social opportunities through traditional and non-traditional approaches that assist high-risk students who are not succeeding in the traditional high school setting to realize their greatest potential.
Bishop Hall is a well-established charter school in its 16th year of providing non-traditional educational opportunity for high-risk students in Thomas County. The school has the distinction of being the only charter school in Georgia with Title I Whole School status. Bishop Hall has always strived to create a learning environment that embraces the entire student, not just the academics. Social, cultural and emotional issues often compound student academic issues.
Key to Bishop Hall’s success has been its leadership and faculty. Founding Principal Rich Johnson who retired in 2014 had a leading role in the planning and design of the new facility.
“Several local foundations have been essential to the mission of Bishop Hall, allowing the school to offer smaller class sizes, social support services, and unique experiential learning opportunities that have truly set the Bishop Hall experience apart from traditional schools,” Thomas County Schools Superintendent Dusty Kornegay said.
“We also wish to thank the wonderful leadership and staff of Vashti for providing a home to Bishop Hall for its first fifteen years. Without Vashti, there would be no Bishop Hall. Our system has forged a close relationship with Vashti over the last fifteen years, and even though we are relocating our charter school, we intend to remain good friends and strong partners in fulfilling our mutual mission of improving the lives of young people,” said Kornegay.