ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — It’s the Atlanta school that’s produced some of the city’s most iconic figures, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and NBA Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Current and former David T. Howard High School students are officially celebrating its rebirth as a middle school.

Several generations cut the ribbon on a new era, celebrating the school’s rich 97-year history. “The future is an opportunity to effect change, optimism and new growth,” said 8th grader Kaili Stith, who presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Peggie Martin Kemp, a 1972 graduate, remembers the years she and fellow alums spent on the historic grounds. “Howard has always been a vital part of this community,” Kemp said. She added, “My mother went here as an elementary school, and I went here as a high school.” “Theodore Roosevelt once said, I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future,” said David T. Howard Middle School Interim Principal Joy Antone.

READ MORE: The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office In Contract With FDOT For Speed Enforcement

They celebrated the school’s namesake, a beloved businessman and philanthropist, and the many iconic figures who attended the school and went on to make a mark on the world. “Mr. David Tobias Howard saw an educational need in his community,” said Wesley Johnson, who graduated with the Class of 1948.

READ MORE: Atlanta School Renamed For Baseball Legend Hank Aaron

Atlanta Public Schools completed the $52 million renovation last year. “When we also invest in our children, we change our entire world,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. Students reflected on new goals. “I just need to have heart and drive, and when I have heart and drive, I can be the best at what I do,” said Andrew Brooks II, a 5th grader. “Matchless, there is no other like me, evolving into who I’m meant to be,” said Madison Jones, also a 5th grader, while reciting her poem.

They celebrate the past, present and a bright future for the next generations.

MORE NEWS: Atlanta Public Schools Celebrates All-Time High Graduation Rate

**Correction: This article was updated to reflect the correct name of 5th grade student Andrew Brooks II.