Sumatra Drayton was overwhelmed with joy.
On the first day of classes, last fall, she watched the small set of bleachers at Holloway High School fill with students.
Drayton, who was beginning her fourth year as the school’s principal, smiled.
“We assembled in our gym and it was full,” she recalled. “I had never seen our gym full with students. It was exciting.”
Drayton is hoping the excitement continues this school year.
Holloway is hosting its annual open house July 27 at 6 p.m. School administrators have already begun accepting applications from new prospective students and will continue to do so. The entire staff, including teachers, will be on hand for the open house.
Holloway is a Rutherford County choice school that accepts students who need to catch up on credits or those who wish to graduate early. The school provides students an opportunity to earn up to eight credits per school year during the day and also offers night classes.
Until the 2016-2017 school year, Holloway enrollment figures had been right 100.
Last summer, Rutherford County Schools Director Don Odom had met with Drayton and the two agreed they needed to increase enrollment numbers and set a goal of 150 students. Drayton exceeded expectations.
Enrollment at Holloway reached 180.
This year’s goal is again to maintain 150. According to Drayton, 175 to 180 is pushing the high end, but she’d be willing to accept as many as 200 students for the 2017-2018 school year.
Last year, Drayton referred to Holloway as the best kept secret in the district.
“I hope the secret is out,” said Drayton, while talking about the excitement of last year and the newfound expectations for the upcoming school year. “I know our numbers have increased, but I still think there are a lot of folks who don’t realize what Holloway is.”
Kayla (Barlett) Wainwright, a third-year teacher at Holloway added, “What makes Holloway unique is just the simple fact that we’re small.”
The school’s ratio of teachers and administrators to students allows for more one-on-one learning experiences. That time also affords teachers and administrators to not only get to know their student body on a first name basis, but they work to learn their middle names as well as their respective family members.
Wainwright referred to the culture as family-oriented.
“I just think that Holloway is a great place,” said Wainwright, who teaches everything from personal finance and drivers education to wellness and physical education.
Although the facility, which is 88 years old, is landlocked and further expansions are not an option, the school gained an additional classroom this year.
In 2016, Spanish classes were moved to the cafeteria.
That meant classes had to be scheduled around opening the cafeteria to lunch-goers. This year, Spanish will have a dedicated room of its own in the automotive building located behind the gymnasium and adjacent to the main building.
Drayton and others had gone through the school twice looking for an opportunity to reutilize some of its space. It wasn’t until their second tour when Drayton found herself standing in the paint room.
“I was standing around out there and I noticed, this pain room is pretty big,” Drayton said.
The Fire Marshall agreed.
“What used to be the paint room is now going to be Spanish,” Drayton said.
Holloway is a school that willingly bans together to utilize all its resources and, according to Wainwright, students are welcoming and supportive “no matter what walk of life they come from.”