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Column: Break brings end to morning struggle
by Thornton Kennedy
May 17, 2012 07:27 PM | 1380 views | 1 1 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
The distance between The Schenck School and The Lovett School is 4.2 miles.

A healthy person who is in decent shape should be able to run that span in roughly 40 minutes or bike it in 12.

It takes us an excruciating 45 minutes to an hour to drive roundtrip from our home near OK Café to these two schools each weekday morning.

The time it takes to drive our Lovett fourth-grader, Thornton, and our Schenck second-grader, Virginia, to school is a source of constant tension. If everyone is not ready to go at a minimum of 45 minutes prior, there is no way they will be on time. Virginia has taken the drastic step of sleeping in her uniform so she doesn’t have to fiddle with it in the morning.

There are arguments as to who gets dropped off first as there is a high likelihood that the latter will have to be walked and signed into their school. We leave so early that the first school is always easy but the trek across Mount Paran Road is fraught with delays.

There is not an easy way to do it.

My paternal grandparents, Gina and Alfred Kennedy, lived on Sentinel Post Road, which is the first left off Mount Paran coming from Northside Parkway. There is a relative shortcut by taking Sentinel Post to White Water Creek Road and Harris Trail and eventually to Powers Ferry Road, which is where Schenck is located. I say relative because any map will show that way adds nearly 2 miles to the route.

While that may seem counter productive without the traffic, you can technically shave a good 10 to 15 minutes off the travel time. Unfortunately, it takes about half an hour to get to Sentinel Post, thus rendering the shortcut obsolete most days.

The problem is as old as Buckhead itself. There are no east-to-west connectors. There are plenty running north to south — Northside Parkway and Roswell and Peachtree roads. Linking these thoroughfares are two-lane residential streets that have never been widened or expanded despite the community’s near-constant growth.

I shudder to think what is going to happen when the city moves the only high school in Buckhead up Northside Parkway next year. The commute will be easy for the people around us, comparatively speaking. For the people who live in Brookhaven or Lenox Park, not so much. Over the years I have tried just about every conceivable route, with little to no success.

The first high school in Buckhead may have been the most centrally located. The current location of Atlanta International School, the former North Fulton High School (1930-91), is located at 2890 North Fulton Drive. It is as close a school to the center of Buckhead as there is.

Summer vacation grants us a brief reprieve from the morning traffic. Even those without young children reap the benefits of the long break as the roads open up in the mornings.

Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and a former news editor of the Northside/Sandy Springs/Vinings Neighbor newspapers. He can be reached at

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