Cedartown Middle School principal Shannon Hulsey wants to make sure the children under her care are getting everything they need to succeed.

Most of the time, children come through the doors of the school with everything they need, from backpacks full of supplies to the lunches their parents pack for them in the mornings. Some of the sixth through eighth graders at the school aren’t as fortunate, and need any additional support they can get.

“We want to make sure the whole child is getting what they need in our school,” she said.

To make that happen, Cedartown Middle School has opened up a portion of their school to students in need of assistance now called The Dawg House, which serves as part clothing closet, part food pantry and more for students to utilize.

Hulsey said the idea is an extension of the new Graduate Polk program being developed by Polk County College and Career Academy CEO Dr. Katie Thomas. That program seeks to provide a variety of services to high school students, from donations of clothing and food to ensure students are well clothed and fed, to providing access to washers and dryers, even showers to keep students clean and healthy.

Additional services, like the partnership with Willowbrooke at Tanner to provide mental health services to students and connect them with resources to pay for it are part of the Graduate Polk program too.

The idea started when administrators sought to do more to help students in need, and parts of the program that is still growing and developing were brought about thanks to a visit to a similar concept playing out in Cobb County.

So what used to be an audiovisual closet for the Cedartown Middle School Library has been transformed, and the hallway space beside it behind the front office additionally is providing an area for students who need the help to have access to clothing in a variety of sizes, bags of food they can take home in cubby holes, and even access to washers and dryers at the middle school.

Donations of food, clothing, toiletries and much more are gladly being accepted by Cedartown Middle School for The Dawg House. Those who would like to help out can contact Hulsey at the school by calling 770-749-8850.