History of BMS
Berkmar Middle School was built in 2004 to alleviate Sweetwater Middle School’s overcrowded conditions, caused by an influx of students moving to the Lilburn area. The name “Berkmar” dates back to the 1966 opening of the high school that was created when the Lilburn and Bethesda high schools consolidated. The new high school’s name was derived by combining part of the voting districts’ names of Berkshire and Martins, using “Berk” and “Mar” to create “Berkmar.”
The land on which Berkmar Middle School was built had originally been inhabited by the Lower Creek Indians. After a land lottery in 1820, the land was allocated and became a family farm for more than 200 years. Cotton and other crops were grown on the land, and one of the original buildings, which was used as a blacksmith shop, is still standing on the property. Margaret and Bob Stuebing, descendants of the original owners, sold the property to Gwinnett County Public Schools in 2002. Located at 4355 Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn, Berkmar Middle School serves children and families from Lilburn, Duluth, Norcross, and Lawrenceville.
Construction of the school was completed in June of 2004, and Berkmar Middle School held its dedication ceremony on September 26, 2004. Dr. Barbara Lunsford, the school’s founding principal, welcomed all guests, who included Berkmar staff, students, families, county officials, and community members. The day’s events also included remarks from the Gwinnett County Board of Education members and CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. The program closed with teachers Beau Dominguez and Claudette Onumah presenting the school’s “Principles of Teaching and Learning.”
In 2015, after the student population continued to surge in the western part of Gwinnett County, the Discovery cluster opened to relieve the Berkmar and Central Gwinnett clusters. Berkmar Middle School’s attendance boundaries were redrawn, and its feeder elementary schools became G.H. Hopkins Elementary and Rebecca Minor Elementary.
Dr. Lunsford served as principal for the 2004-05 school year and for the first semester of the 2005-06 school year. Upon Dr. Lunsford’s retirement in January of 2006, Mr. Kenney Wells became Berkmar’s new principal and served until 2013 when Jose DeJesus assumed the role. He was followed by Nicole Tubbs, who became the school’s principal in 2014. Mrs. Tubbs served as principal until November of 2018 when she became the principal of McClure High. Mrs. Tubbs was succeeded by Dr. Kaneshia Dorsan who served as principal from 2018-2023. On June 15, 2023, the Board of Education named Ms. Felecia Jones as Berkmar’s new leader.
The school’s building is two stories, with sixth and seventh-grade classes housed on the first floor and eighth-grade classes on the second floor. The school has three computer labs and a media center complete with a TV production facility. The gymnasium includes a fitness room for staff and students, and there is also a spacious athletic field behind the school with a full track. The Health and Physical Education Department was awarded nearly $135,000 in grants, which have been used to furnish the school’s fitness center, to buy gym equipment, and to install the track. In 2014, the school also received a grant from Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to repair orchestra equipment.
In the fall of 2005, a Title I School-wide Committee comprised of teachers, parents, and administrators began to work on a school-wide plan, which was approved by the state in 2006. All Berkmar Middle School students benefit from Title I services, which include federal funds used to hire additional staff, to purchase instructional materials and technology, and to provide opportunities for collaborative instructional planning. In 2019, every classroom was equipped with Chromebook carts, making BMS a one-to-one school and ensuring students have access to technology in each classroom on a daily basis. Over the years, BMS has also received the following school-wide designations: Title I Distinguished School, No Place for Hate, and the Governor’s Office Bronze Award for Student Gains. Berkmar Middle is also proud to participate in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which focuses on three R’s— Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Ready. This program is just one more example of the school’s commitment to its students and to high standards. Over the years, Berkmar Middle School has blazed a path of excellence in academics, arts, and athletics, one that helps all students to reach their full potential.