Fulton County Schools officials and North Springs High School staff celebrated the opening of The Link, the school’s Student and Family Engagement Center. (Bob Pepalis)

North Springs High School opened The Link on Feb. 22, its Student and Family Engagement Center (SAFE).

“We are excited about opening this and making it available to our community, to our students and our families here at North Springs and a part of the North Springs community as well,” Principal Scott Hanson said during the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies.

The community has a great need for resources, food and other things that the schools have a unique opportunity and are uniquely qualified to provide, he said.

Fulton County Board of Education member Michelle Morancie said North Springs High is the only school in North Fulton with this type of center.

“It will provide a free grocery store, laundry services, clothing, hygiene items, and mental health services, enriched learning time and active family and community engagement with community partners,” she said.

Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said so many families and students are in need. The SAFE Center provides an opportunity to go the extra mile to give students and their families what they need so that when they get to school, the focus can be on teaching and learning, he said.

Fulton County Schools opened its first SAFE Center at Banneker High School in 2018 and took the lessons it learned there when preparing to open North Springs.

Fulton County Board of Education member Michelle Morancie said The Link will provide a free grocery store, laundry services, mental health services and community engagement. (Bob Pepalis)

School Social Worker Maia Smith said the staff was challenged to imagine a place where students could reach their full potential and that had the resources needed to thrive in their school and the community. The Link is the result, which she said is not just a place but also represents the idea of building relationships, making connections and collaborating with community partners to help students be successful.

“We wanted to create an environment that gives students a sense of belonging, a safe place, a place to build trust, and a sense of community,” Smith said.

Jasmine Crowe-Houston, the founder of Goodr, has been a partner who “absolutely made our dreams come true,” Diahann Fulwider, The Link’s coordinator, said.

The Goodr founder said North Springs was the third SAFE Center she had the opportunity to see open. She pitched her idea about it at the United Way’s childhood well-being summit.

“If you have kids that are sitting in class, wondering when and where their next meal is coming from, no teachers can ever be able to teach through that,” Crowe-Houston said.

By putting these centers in schools where students are coming daily, they can help the entire household, she said.

The shelves are stocked in The Link’s pantry, thanks to Goodr, with pantry staples and refrigerated foods. (Bob Pepalis)

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.