NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After 64 years, it is time to move the tassel, toss the cap and graduate from Hillwood High School in Belle Meade. When the fall comes, students and staff are relocating to the all-new James Lawson High School in Bellevue.

Principal Stephen Sheaffer said they called this year “the final climb at Hillwood” and while it is sad to leave the space, he said it is time for some necessary upgrades.

James Lawson High School was built over the past two years and is located on Highway 70 South off Interstate 40. The $150 million, 273-acre campus is located about nine miles from Hillwood.

James Lawson High School (Courtesy: MNPS)

Sheaffer said they’re very excited to start a new chapter while preserving the history of Hillwood. They’re packing up boxes of memorabilia for an alumni room at Lawson.

The principal said there’s a strong alumni presence at Hillwood and some of their staff are graduates of the school, including Katie Rosa (’11) who teaches history.

“Some of my best memories are in this school,” said Rosa.

Rosa said she now works alongside some of the educators who inspired her career.

“It’s going to be hard to leave, but it’s going to be here, you know, memories don’t die,” said Rosa. “They’re always going to be in our hearts, through the stories we tell, in the memorabilia we take with us.”

Thursday morning, students will have time dedicated to reflecting on their favorite memories at Hillwood.

“Our students right now get something really special,” said Rosa. “They’re in that transition, but also that legacy. It’s passing the torch on to a new chapter that’s going to be just as great.”

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As for the physical Hillwood building, the plan is to use it as a professional development space, staff overflow, and athletic facility for other Nashville schools. Metro Nashville Public Schools are also looking at the location as a temporary space for Westmeade Elementary once they receive capital funds for reconstruction. 

No matter where the school bus pulls up, the staff says they’re ready to support their students.

“At the end of the day, we always say, hey, we can have the best building or we can have a building that needs a lot of love, but it’s really the people inside of it,” said Shaeffer. “While the name has changed, this sense of community that was built here is coming with us to Lawson.”