Tom Bass had a vision – that Dunwoody High School would be the destination school for students who move into the district.
Bass, a longtime baseball coach and recently appointed principal at DHS, said he knew that people looking to purchase homes or rent apartments in the Dunwoody area were attracted to the elementary school in a neighborhood, but not necessarily the cluster’s high school.
Historically, many realtors and apartment managers in the area list as one of the amenities the elementary school that the children of a potential renter or homeowner would attend. The Dunwoody cluster contains some of the state’s top performing elementary schools, including Vanderlyn and Austin. However, the lone high school in the cluster, Dunwoody High School, is not mentioned as often as a draw for residents with school-age children.
Statistics reveal, however, that DHS is one of the state’s highest rated schools. According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, Dunwoody High School’s overall performance is higher than “76% of schools in the state and is higher than its district.”
In addition, according to the website, Dunwoody’s four-year graduation rate is 89%, which is better than 54% of high schools in the state and higher than other schools in its district.
Bass said he wants to change the community perception of his school.
“We want Dunwoody (High School) to be where everyone’s final goal is,” Bass said. “That was the vision, and we wanted it to become the reality.”
The intersection of vision and reality came to fruition on the afternoon of March 17, when the high school became the venue for a celebration called “All Roads Lead to Dunwoody,” which more than 700 students, parents, teachers and residents attended.
The event, which featured kickball games between students and teachers, concessions and t-shirts for sale, a live band and Dunwoody High School’s annual powder puff game, officially launched a year-long celebration of the high school’s 50th anniversary, according to organizers.
Attendees included Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch, city council members and DeKalb School administrators, including Region One Superintendent Melanie Pearch, and Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.
Harris said she was impressed that Bass executed the community event so soon after being appointed principal.
“His team carried this out in year one, which is really amazing,” Watson-Harris said. “This event is something he talked about during his interview for the job at Dunwoody, and he pulled it off. That’s why he’s here.”
Bass credited parent volunteers from the feeder schools for making the event a success, including Meagan Galle, Lisa Martin, Linda McJunkin, Monica Dean, Sandra Myddelton, Lauren Middlebrooks, Ann Hanlon, Leigh Anne Collins, Fran Bartel, and Nina Arnold.
“They made the vision a reality,” he said.