Head of School Jimmy Arispe, who formerly taught in Cobb Schools at Brown, Green Acres and Nickajack elementary schools and Campbell Middle, said they welcomed 120 students and 20 teachers to their school, which is now housed in the former Imagine International Academy of Mableton at 6688 Mableton Parkway.
“It was very, very gratifying,” he said about the first two days. “Some of us have been working on this for three years, so for it to finally get here — it was very surreal.”
On the first day of school, the parking lot was full and they were even shuttling parents and students from a nearby church.
“There were about 500 parents and families here,” Arispe said, adding that some parents and students showed up Tuesday morning to register.
“That is very unusual in the private school world, but it was fantastic,” he said.
Since 2011, Arispe and a group of residents in south Cobb have been trying to open a school in their area.
They first tried to petition the Cobb County School District in 2012 for a charter but were denied, and then got the same results when trying to petition the state for a charter.
They didn’t lose hope, though.
Families behind SAE refocused their efforts and decided to open a private school.
There were a few challenges down that road, too.
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners first denied a zoning permit last May when the school sought to open on an 82-acre tract of land close to where Interstate 285 crosses the Chattahoochee River in south Cobb.
Then, in an attempt to get the ball rolling once again so they could open their doors this fall, Arispe said they resubmitted another zoning permit to locate the school in the closed-down Imagine International Academy of Mableton, and commissioners approved that petition toward the end of July.
“Despite all the challenges, obstacles and ‘no’s,’ this week has been a celebration of the opening of our school,” he said.
The school will run a 200-day, year-round program. Each year the school is open, it will add another grade through 12th.
Arispe anticipates the first senior class to graduate in 2018.
Tuition costs range between $7,850 for ages 1 through preschool, $8,900 for kindergarten students and $9,400 for first- through eighth-graders.
For more information about the school, visit saeschool.org.