A live indoor rifle range at a public high school: awesome or totally awesome?

Font Size:

A gleaming new high school that opened last week in one of Atlanta’s toniest neighborhoods boasts an indoor rifle range and a slew of other amazing perks.

The rifle range at North Atlanta High School is for the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp as well as its rifle team, reports Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

Response from parents and students has been cautious but generally very positive.

“I’ll probably question it a little bit just to get a better idea,” parent Donna Jones told WSB-TV. “Like I said, I didn’t understand why they’re going to be doing that, but I think they’re going to be very careful in protecting the students.”

Another parent, Cappy McAlpin, agreed.

“If I see a kid walking around school with a weapon locked and loaded I would have concern, but I think they’re going to be locked in a lock and safe,” McAlpin said.

Students who use the rifle range will be supervised by an instructor certified by both the U.S. Army Cadet Command and the Georgia High School Athletic Association. The site is expected to become safety certified sometime in the next 30 days.

Also, students will use compressed-air powered pellet rifles, which are much less likely to cause injury (or death) than live ammunition.

The ABC affiliate notes that another local public school, Grady High School, is also home to a rifle range.

Grady High is nowhere near as fancypants as North Atlanta High.

The 11-story school cost about $147 million—which is $50 million over the original budget, according to The New York Times. It’s an ultra-gut renovation of a concrete office building that was built in 1977 and once held about 5,000 IBM workers.

In addition to the indoor rifle range, other impressive amenities of North Atlanta High include a food court-esque cafeteria and a 900-car parking deck. Labs and classrooms are cutting-edge. Bored students looking out the windows can survey 56 wooded acres and a nearby spring-fed lake.

Even The New York Times notes that the school is a testament to the power of school choice. The paper of record notes that local educators are calling the school an opportunity to demonstrate that a big, public high school in an urban environment can be a compelling option for parents and students who can also choose charter schools, voucher systems and private schools.

Students who will attend North Atlanta High run the socioeconomic gamut. Some are wealthy families from the nearby area. Others are very poor. A little over a quarter of the students are white. Students will be able to speak over three dozen languages.

“If there was ever a model for an urban high school, this is it,” new principal Howard E. Taylor told The Times.

Follow Eric on Twitter and send education-related story tips to