Enrollment spikes at rural schools

ELMORE CO., AL (WSFA) - Call it classroom shell-shock.  Desks and textbooks are hot commodities, as a wave of students returns to campus this fall.

At Marbury High School, the first lesson of the year: numbers.

Principal Billy Hollon explains, "Right now we are at 600 students, 3 plan to enroll tomorrow, and we enrolled 2 today."

When Marbury's new high school opened two years ago, it had 400 students on it rolls.

Hollon says he still can't believe it, "I grew up here, it's unreal we have this many kids."

As a result, Marbury jumped from Division 1A to 3A in athletics.  A school now complete with a new football field; and baseball and softball fields in the works.

Hollon says the attraction is the community as a whole, "It's a small town feel.  Here at school we have lots of technology and kids get a full compliment of AP courses."

The increased enrollment at MHS is tied to new subdivisions popping along rural Highway 31.  Many parcels of land are sold before the foundation is poured.

In Elmore County, Real Estate Agent Lucretia Cauthen says schools are her liquid gold, "I don't have to sell them on Millbrook schools, the numbers speak for themselves."

Stanhope Elmore High School, also linked to rising home sales and new construction in Millbrook.  Cauthen says families seeking a good school system make up her largest client base. "They are coming from the outlying areas, some are moving from Montgomery - others are coming from farther away."

The enrollment meter always moving up at Stanhope Elmore, now an annual expectation for Principal Jamey McGowin.  A school who's attendance has almost doubled in the last ten years.

"We are up about 20 students.  Yes, we're always concerned about numbers.  But this year, our classroom numbers are good."

Small towns learning a lesson in growth, starting in the classroom. 

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