Home Health & Education New James Lawson High School opens in Bellevue

New James Lawson High School opens in Bellevue

by Cass Teague
MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle speaks at JLHS event.

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) welcomed students for the 2023 – 2024 school year starting Tuesday, August 8, at the new James Lawson High School (JLHS) in Bellevue. The new $124 million high school campus is located on “Lightning Lane” off Highway 70 South on the western side of Davidson County.

JLHS has 310,000 square feet of classrooms and common space, including the cafeteria, gyms for basketball, volleyball, wrestling, theatre, and student commons. The 274-acre site blends into the hills and includes athletic facilities for football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and tennis. Lightning Lane is named after the school mascot – Lawson Lightning – and tributes to the mascot appear all around the campus.

Reverend James Lawson

The design process involved close collaboration with MNPS to create a place that fosters critical thinking, inquiry, problem-solving, and creativity among the 1,600 students it serves, ensuring that the design of the school would become a hub for collaboration and community engagement. The design embraces sustainability as a driver and is projected to achieve a LEED Gold certification through various initiatives, including roof-mounted photovoltaic arrays, a high-efficiency geothermal mechanical system, natural daylighting, rainwater harvesting, green roofs, and outdoor classrooms connecting with nature.

“We are so proud to have this new high school named for the Reverend James Lawson,” MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle said at a July 27 ribbon-cutting event. “Reverend Lawson was a bold and brilliant leader of a group of determined people who made it possible for people who look like me to be in positions like this. Reverend Lawson trained and mentored the young women and men who sat in at Nashville’s downtown lunch counters in 1960 to demand equal service as paying customers of those department stores.

“Many of them also rode buses across the South in 1961 to highlight racial discrimination in public transportation. As they protested, they endured harassment, assaults, attacks, and even bombings, and through the non-violent and dignified protest strategies they learned from Reverend Lawson, through their willingness to put their bodies on the line for freedom and for equity, those young people and their leaders forced Nashville and also the state and the nation to change for the better.

“We will be forever grateful to Reverend Lawson for the courage, leadership, resilience, dignity, and passion for social justice that he displayed over and over and over again after he moved to the South at the request of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and he landed here in Nashville. And as he kept at it for more than 60 years since then, and he is still going strong today.

“I hope – no, let me say I know — that the students of James Lawson High School will carry themselves and represent this community with the same pride, passion, belief, and determination that Reverend Lawson continues to send into the world each day. His example serves as an inspiration for all of us… I think we should all feel really good about what’s going to happen here at James Lawson.”

Related Posts