Franklin Special School District Celebrates New Gym and Performing Arts Center

photo of Donna Vissman

The Franklin Special School District (FSSD) announced on Friday the completion of the new gymnasium at Poplar Grove Elementary School and the Franklin Special School District Performing Arts Center (PAC). To celebrate the grand openings of both facilities, the district held two ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Friday, May 20, 2022.

Staff, students, school board members and community members attended the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the gymnasium and performing arts center and had the opportunity to tour both facilities after each event. As part of the PAC celebration, a stone-engraved logo was revealed on the building’s facade and the FSSD Legacy Gallery, a curated 650-square-foot facility that celebrates the school district’s history since its inception in 1906, was unveiled. been opened.

For years, Poplar Grove Elementary and Poplar Grove Middle shared a gym, which caused scheduling issues and created the need for an alternate space to hold PE classes, sporting events, and large school gatherings. The new elementary school gymnasium features a full-size basketball court, two cross practice courts, a volleyball court, four-square courts, and 480 seats for students and spectators. Additionally, the gymnasium includes a concession stand, multiple locker rooms, offices for teachers, and a multipurpose room that doubles as a storm shelter.

“Our goal was to make it easier and more transparent to use space between the two schools,” said Dr. Alisha Erickson, Principal of Poplar Grove Elementary. “The new gymnasium will provide Poplar Grove Elementary with space for daily physical education classes, in addition to capacity for sports practices and events. We know what a huge benefit this space will be to the health and happiness of our students. »

The opening of the Franklin Special School District Performing Arts Center also marks a significant milestone for the district. The FSSD PAC is a 34,400 square foot facility that can accommodate 490 people. Seats surround a push stage, which extends into the audience on three sides, with a 120 square foot proscenium. The stage is equipped with a complete fly loft of 49 feet accessible by catwalks. The PAC also includes dressing rooms, pre-performance spaces and prop rooms as well as a build shop, concessions stand, ticket office and the Legacy Gallery.

“The Franklin Special School District intentionally emphasizes the education of the whole child. This means we believe the fine arts are not just necessary, but an essential part of student learning,” said Schools Principal Dr David Snowden. “The new performing arts center will be open to all students, and its use will expand and enhance the exceptional programs that are part of every school in the district. We look forward to this state-of-the-art facility providing students and community members with a meaningful way to participate in the arts.

The PAC was designed to feature the seasonal school plays, holiday musicals, and graduation ceremonies for the eight FSSD schools. Once fully operational and the calendar of school events established, it will also be accessible to the community and can be rented by the public for special events.

World | HFR Design served as architect and Nabholz Construction served as construction manager for both projects.

“We are proud to celebrate another successful project with the Franklin Special School District and look forward to seeing the positive impact these new facilities have on students, educators and the community,” said Stephen Griffin, AIA, director of world | HFR design. “As a national company with a heritage of over 100 years in Middle Tennessee, we take special pride in the projects we design in the communities where we live and work, and that’s one of the many reasons why we are thrilled to be a part of these projects and celebrations.

Poplar Grove Elementary School is located at 2959 Del Rio Pike, Franklin, TN 37069. PAC is also located on the Poplar Grove campus.

About Franklin Special School District
The Franklin Special School District serves 3,200 K-8 students in eight schools. Its boundaries encompass the greater Franklin, Tennessee area. The mission of the Franklin Special School District is to foster the academic, social, emotional, physical, and creative development of every student; instill a desire to continue learning; cultivate respect for all; and promote responsible citizenship. For more information, visit

About Wold | HFR design
World | HFR Design is a national firm with a Tennessee heritage focused on providing thoughtful architecture and engineering that helps improve the lives of communities in the Southeast and beyond. Founded as Hart Freeland Roberts over 100 years ago, HFR Design joined Wold to develop both companies’ extensive government, healthcare, senior living and education portfolios under one entity. With local offices in Brentwood and Jackson Tenn., Wold | HFR Design strives to have a positive impact on the lives of its clients and all those who occupy the spaces it designs on their behalf. To learn more, please visit

About Nabholz Construction
Founded in 1949, Nabholz is now a full-service contractor providing construction, industrial, excavation, specialty, environmental and railroad services from its network of locations across Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri , Mississippi, Tennessee and Connecticut. For more information, visit

William E. Bennett