The parking lot at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs overflowed Friday with hundreds of faculty and students.
Students grouped from preschool to 12th grade stood shoulder to shoulder shouting school slogans as they waited for the new Lower School building to officially be named for Dorothy Sullivan who retired in 2007 after 30 years at HIES.
Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright started his own call and response. “Up, In and, Out. Say it again. Up, In and Out!”
“That’s why your school is important because of its upward reach to God,” Wright explained. “This is a place where we still talk about God – that God is good, that God is loving, that God is welcoming, that God is our help and our friend. That God has put the best that God could inside of us.
“So, we reach up, and because we reach up, now we go inward, we go down into all that wonderful compassion that God has put in ALL of us. God has made good stuff out of us and in us and so a place like this is where we teach, and we learn, and we dig and excavate all of this good stuff that God has put in us.
“And then there’s out. Because if you go up and then you go deep in you have to go out. That’s the mark of having God up and in. You go out. You can’t keep it in. That would be selfish. Because God put all this good stuff in us and because God is good, we reach out to neighbors.
“So, I love the song we sing here at Holy Innocents’. Draw the circle wide. Draw it wider still. No one stands alone standing side by side. Draw the circle wide keeping God as the still point of the circle. Say Amen!” And like a revival congregation those gathered said “Amen.”
Next, Wright, joined by Sullivan, anointed the building’s sign on the three-story structure with Holy Water from Jerusalem – from Super Soakers.
School officials and fundraising leaders said the building and other additions to the 60-year-old school are part of a $32.5 million expansion and updating approved by the HIES Board of Trustees in 2019.
The new Lower School Building for grades 1-5 replaces a 1970s-era classroom building.
“It’s a massive transition from where we were to where we are now,” Lower School Assistant Principal Jed Dorsey said after the ribbon cutting.
“The building just has a new vibe to it – a new energy. Everyone is excited. It’s bright, has a lot of windows to interact with the exterior, wide hallways, high ceilings, and just all the space that we need and could ask or wish for.”
The building was designed to support new ways of learning for its budding inventors, artists, and explorers. One example is its fully equipped makerspace for kinetic learning and collaboration, where students can tinker, experiment, and create alongside one another.
The building also has a large dedicated common space for student assemblies and performances and an expanded playground where children can slide, climb, swing, build and imagine.
The Lower School opening follows that of a new $18.3 million Upper School Humanities Building in August 2021. That 60,000-square-foot building is also designed to encourage collaboration, innovation, and community with flexible classrooms, state-of-the-art learning common, new instructional technology, and interdepartmental faculty offices.
Another $1.4 million raised by the “Our Time” capital campaign is paying for campus enhancements including new greenspaces and pedestrian pathways, a new cross-country course around the perimeter of the 43-acre campus, improved traffic flow, and strengthened security.
Learn more about the Episcopal Church’s largest parish day school here.