New message board in front of Austin-East Magnet High School stands for new beginnings


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Austin-East Magnet High School had a ceremony on Saturday for their new messaging board system that’s displayed outside of the school.

The new sign marks a new beginning for so many going into a new school year.

“We’re all excited and we look forward to what’s going to happen this year because we know it’s going to be a great year,” said Gloria Dethridge, a former Knox County Board of Education Representative who was at the ceremony on Saturday.

The new message board will help display the future achievements of students and staff.

“It symbolizes hope, it symbolizes transformation, and it symbolizes great things to come from Austin-East, from our students, and in our community,” said Knox County Vice Mayor Gwen Mckenzie.

The sign is also a display of what Austin-East has had to overcome this past school year.

“The things this school and the community has been through, this is just a wonderful occasion,” said Dethridge.

Austin-East lost five students to gun violence in one school year.

“It has been hard because the kids,” said Dethridge. “I mean once you get over one tragedy it seems like there’s another tragedy, and the kids have endured so much.”

They also had to deal with the struggles of learning and teaching in the middle of a pandemic.

Now, they’re looking for brighter days ahead.

Dethridge added, “This is a sign of what’s to come, you know? God presented us with this opportunity to come together as a community and to celebrate this occasion.”

“We cannot worry about anything, as Philippians 4:6 says,” said Former Knox County Education Association president and current vice president of the Tennessee Education Association, Tonya Coats. “We’ve got to pray about everything, and then ask the Lord for what we want and he will show us an abundance of what we can get and it is proven today by getting this sign.”

A new sign for a new school of new achievements.

Paula Hancock, the new Knox County Education Association President, stated, “never let distractions interfere with you attain your goal.”

A large portion of the donations for this new sign came from the Austin and Austin-East Alumni Association.

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