Chelsea’s new Forest Oaks Elementary opens

Published 4:14 pm Friday, January 3, 2014

Chelsea's new Forest Oaks Elementary opened Jan. 3. (Reporter Photo / Cassandra Mickens)

Chelsea’s new Forest Oaks Elementary School opened Jan. 3. (Reporter Photo/Cassandra Mickens)

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

CHELSEA — The new Forest Oaks Elementary School was abuzz Jan. 3 as teachers readied their classrooms for students’ return from holiday break Jan. 6.

Forest Oaks Elementary, located off Shelby County 47 at 1000 Hornet Parkway, opened Jan. 3, which also happened to be a teacher workday. Faculty and staff began moving into the 91,000-square-foot building before Christmas.

The school houses kindergarten through fifth grade students and replaces Chelsea Intermediate School. Chelsea Intermediate will become an extension of Chelsea Middle School located next door.

Prior to their holiday break, students were able to sneak a peak at their new school, said Forest Oaks Elementary principal Dr. Resia Brooks.

“They are very excited,” Brooks said. “Their favorite places are the gym and the media center.”

Several families were spotted walking the halls at Forest Oaks Elementary Jan. 3. The school includes a media center, or library, with large light fixtures, vaulted ceilings and tall windows, and a cafeteria (known as “The Lunch Box”) that doubles as a performance space.

Brooks, who also cites the media center as her favorite place in the school, said the campus fosters knowledge and the power of possibility.

“The media center has this beautiful, long window that overlooks the community, and it’s symbolic because books are windows to the world,” Brooks said.

The school also features a 7,600-square-foot gymnasium and a 12,000-square-foot tornado shelter that can hold up to 1,350 people. The tornado shelter, located in the kindergarten through second grade wing, can sustain winds of up to 250 miles per hour. Fourteen first-aid kits stored inside the shelter can provide initial injury treatment to 1,400 people, Brooks said.

Designed for about 1,000 students, Forest Oaks Elementary has 50 classrooms evenly distributed throughout campus.

“Our transition into the new school has been very smooth and seamless,” Brooks said. “We’re looking forward to our inaugural year and we’re excited about all the possibilities.”