"Ball Ground STEM Academy is a school that has a rich history as being the core of the community. The school prides itself in its history and ability to change and grow to accommodate the needs of the community. The school, located in the beautiful North Georgia foothills, continues to maintain the community school atmosphere while embracing the everchanging modern society.
The small town of Ball Ground is located in extreme northern Cherokee County and borders the communities of Nelson and Tate in Pickens County. The name Ball Ground is a survivor from Native American days, when the town site was used by the Cherokee Indians to play their favorite game, stick ball. The hills on which the town is built is thought to have been the tract used to play a game of ball with the Creeks from the south, which resulted in victory for the Cherokees and the prize of a thousand square miles of land.
Ball Ground has been home to five different school buildings. In 1882, Ball Ground School was built soon after the building of the railroad. The school grew between 1900 and 1910 with the earliest known written record of Ball Ground School in the Cherokee County Board of Education dated as 1907. The school population in 1907 was listed as having 160 students. The record also includes information about the Ball Ground colored school serving forty students. It was reported that there were no grades in the school, but that the students had books and when they finished with one reader, they would take up another. In 1924, the school building burned and school was held temporarily in the bottom floor of the lodge hall. A new school was built in 1926-27. Four new classrooms were added in 1947-48 and the gym was built in 1948-49. The auditorium and several classrooms burned in 1968. The school population changed in 1956 when a county high school opened in Canton. Ball Ground School then became an elementary school for grades one through eight. A new addition was built in 1971-72. A public kindergarten program began in the late seventies. Grades seven and eight were moved in 1986 when Teasley Middle School opened. Pre-Kindergarten started in 1995 and was housed in the church behind the school.
After 86 years, a replacement school was built within the city limits of Ball Ground on Valley Street. The new school opened as a STEM Academy in August of 2012 and welcomed students from Pre-K through grade 6. The new building contains state of the art technology, handicapped accessible playground equipment and a family living suite. Today, Ball Ground STEM Academy is an excellent educational institution for the children of the community. Many of the students’ parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents have attended Ball Ground Elementary and still live here and play an active, vital part in the school. The school exemplifies the American ideal of a successful community school.
Some interesting facts through the years: In 1980, Mrs. Marguerite Shaw had a kindergarten class of 37 students with no paraprofessional support. Prior to the 1988-89SY, many classrooms were multi-age where one homeroom teacher provided instruction to students across two grade levels. Five desktop computers and a printer were provided in all fourth and fifth grade classrooms during the 1993-94SY, with additional computers added each year after that until all classrooms were equipped with this new technology. Carolyn Hamilton served as the front office secretary from 1970-2002. In 2005, 100% of third graders passed the state standardized assessment. Ball Ground Elementary school hosted a centennial celebration in the spring of 2008. In 2015, Ball Ground saw both fifth and sixth grades move on to middle school with the opening of Creekland MS for the 2015-16SY; however, fifth grade returned to BGSA for the 2016-17SY. Ball Ground STEM Academy became one of the district’s service schools for self-contained special needs classrooms during the 2017-18SY. CCSD entered into a three-year partnership with Discovery Education to provide STEM PD for all STEM Academies beginning in the 2019- 20SY and will be seeking Cognia STEM Certification during the 2022-23SY.
Principals since Dr. R Terrell McBrayer’s many years of service: 1987 - 1989, Lory Hill 1990 – 1992, Mary Raley 1992 – 1996, Michael Vernor 1997 – 2005, Phil Chronic 2005 – 2014, Doug Knott 2014 – 2017, Dr. Keith Ingram 2017 – 2020, Dr. Christian Kirby 2020 – 2021, Dr. Julie Dutko 2021 – current, Melinda Roulier
Ball Ground Alma Mater: In the heart of Georgia’s Ball Ground Our dear school does stand Where we learn to love our country And our fellow man. Ball Ground School, our Alma Mater True to you we’ll be And we hope our lives will honor And bring praise to thee.
During the 2021-22SY, Ball Ground STEM Academy had 27 homerooms and 553 students from Pre-K through 5th grade. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ball Ground STEM Academy also became home to the Digital Learning Elementary School for CCSD which began with 350 digital learning students. Because Ball Ground STEM Academy was built to 161 house 1,100 students, there was room to host the additional 22 DL teachers and staff. With plans to expand CCSD’s iGrad Academy from 9th 12th grades to 4th -12th grades for the 2022- 23SY, the district will no longer be offering a COVID-19 Response Digital Learning option." (Cherokee Retired Teachers Association, 2022, pp159-161)
Cherokee Retired Teachers Association, and Melinda Roulier. “Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy.” Public Education in Cherokee County, 2nd ed., Cherokee Retired Teachers Association, Canton, GA, 2022, pp. 159–161.
Copies of the digital version of Public Education in Cherokee County stored on a flash drive are for sale for $15 each through History Cherokee’s website (https://shop-history-center.square.site/) and at the Cherokee County History Center in downtown Canton.
For every purchase, $3 will be donated to the Cherokee Retired Educators Association’s fund that awards scholarships to outstanding CCSD graduates pursuing education degrees at Reinhardt University.
The updated digital version of the book also is available through CCSD’s internal network for teacher and student use, and a copy has been provided to the Sequoyah Regional Library System and Reinhardt University.