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A look inside James Lawson High School

The $124 million James Lawson High School opens in Bellevue for the 2023-2024 school year beginning Tuesday, Aug. 8.

The exterior of James Lawson High School featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a modern design.

A view of the main entrance at the new James Lawson High School.

Photo by NASHtoday

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Bells will be ringing at the long-anticipated James Lawson High School for the first time this month.

The ~$124 million Bellevue project, which has been almost nine years in the making, will replace the over 60-year-old Hillwood High School. We toured the 307,000-sqft facility at the community open house over the weekend — here’s what it looked like from our POV.

A mural on an interior wall of activist James Lawson and the school name and established year.

Right past this mural, you’ll find the Lawson bookstore.

Photo by NASHtoday

The legacy

Rev. James Lawson, the school’s namesake, is an activist known for helping organize Nashville’s sit-ins movement and his work to desegregate the city. The school song also pays homage to Lawson’s time spent as a pastor.

Notable features

By the numbers, James Lawson will host 150 staff members and up to 1,600 students, plus, houses a 500-seat theater, a 1,600-seat gymnasium, and six courtyard spaces.

  • Sustainability: Geothermal heating and cooling system, 75Kw solar panels on the roof, as well as 11,600 sqft of “green roof” with natural grasses and plants
  • Sports: In addition to the main gym and a weight room boasting ~12 squat racks, there is a separate auxiliary gym for volleyball and wrestling, as well as a dance studio. Outdoors, you’ll see football, soccer, baseball, softball, and practice fields.
  • Hands-on experiences: Health sciences mock ambulance and patient care beds, culinary kitchen, audio visual lab
  • Arts: In the same wing that houses the band and choir rooms, there are multiple private music practice rooms.

What’s to come for Hillwood High

The 30-acre campus will become a space for professional learning and other training. The fields and recreational areas will be utilized across Metro Nashville Public Schools. Additionally, the school could also be used as a relocation facility as other Metro schools receive updates.

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