‘Parent University’ Classes Offered for Families with Special Needs Students

‘Parent University’ Classes Offered for Families with Special Needs Students

Category : CCSD

The Office of Special Education is offering several trainings this year that are designed to assist parents in understanding and working with their children with disabilities in the home.  Please review our trainings for the 2016-17 school year at this link.    You can register online for each class you wish to take.  Child care will be provided for select evening training sessions.

Hickory Flat Community Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting of New Dean Rusk Middle School


Celebrating the ribbon cutting for the new/replacement Dean Rusk MS at a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 are, from left to right, School Board Member John Harmon, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

The Hickory Flat community gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Cherokee County School District’s newest school: the replacement Dean Rusk Middle School.

The evening included remarks by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Principal Cindy Cooper and eighth-grader Bradley Gordon, a special presentation by the PTSA and performances by the school’s eighth-grade symphonic band and chorus.

“For me tonight, it’s about opportunity and a legacy of excellence,” Dr. Hightower said to the audience, which included students, parents, volunteers, partners and current and retired teachers and administrators.  “This is a world-class facility… and we hope we’ve risen to your expectations.”

The 30-year-old former building required replacement in order to meet the needs of the growing community.  Construction of the $36.8 million school was funded by the Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which is on the ballot this fall for continuation by voters.

The new school accommodates the current 1,480 students with room for growth, with numerous classrooms, wide hallways, a spacious gymnasium and cafetorium and additional technology, all designed to serve the new Grades 6-8 configuration.  Dean Rusk MS is the last middle school in CCSD to add Grade 6, a transition that gives sixth-graders greater opportunity to access advanced core classes and arts and career electives.

The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Dean Rusk Middle School has a strong history of outstanding leadership, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of our past Principals,” Principal Cooper said.  “Our entire community is deeply appreciative for this new school and the opportunity to celebrate it tonight.”

Constructed by Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc. using a CCSD prototypical middle-school design modified by KRH Architects, the 255,037-square-foot, two-story school is on 25.6 acres on East Cherokee Drive adjacent to the campuses of Hickory Flat ES and Sequoyah HS.

Its classrooms all feature touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards – the first school in CCSD with this feature.  Other technological innovations include the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom, with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, the new design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional “security foyer” level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  A polished concrete floor will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time; and new features to become standard in CCSD facilities include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer remarked that every student she met at the event told her how much they enjoy the new school, and her comments were echoed by eighth-grader Bradley Gordon.

“Students today are part of a new generation,” he said, noting that the technology now available to them improves how they learn.  That said, he added, the most important element of the school didn’t change.  “With all the changes, the school maintained what was best about it… the great staff.”

Following the tradition started with previous new/replacement middle schools, the new Dean Rusk MS campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS adopted the Chiefs as its mascot in keeping with Sequoyah HS.

PTSA President Monica Orrico presented the school with a dedication gift: two stained glass windows designed by JD’s Glassworks with the school’s new logo and colors.

“We’re beginning new traditions… as Chiefs!” she said.

The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.

CCSD Earns Highest SAT Scores in Metro Atlanta, No. 3 in State!

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Category : CCSD

Snapshot: CCSD 2016 ACT and SAT Results

The Cherokee County School District, which earned the highest average among metropolitan Atlanta districts, increased its score by 17 points and ranked in the top 3 school districts in Georgia for average SAT scores.

The School District’s Class of 2016 earned an average total score of 1577, up from 1560 last school year, which is the 3rd-highest score out of 180 school systems in the State of Georgia, according to data released today by the College Board.

The School District’s Class of 2016 graduates exceeded the National average by 93 points and the State average by 118 points on the curriculum-based, college entrance and placement exam, which is the most commonly recognized measure of achievement for high school students.

All CCSD high schools, with 54% (1,412 students) of the Class of 2016 participating, scored above the National average and ranked in the top 10% in Georgia on the test, which measures critical reading, mathematics and writing abilities that are related to successful performance in college.

The School District’s average total score increased, and CCSD also earned the second-highest average Writing score, third-highest average Mathematics score and fourth-highest average Critical Reading score in the State.

As different groups of students are being tested, annual fluctuation in scores is anticipated; but CCSD continues to show consistent, extraordinary performance when compared at the National and State levels.

CCSD Principals will analyze individual scores with their Leadership and Data Management Teams to review instruction and curriculum practices, evaluate intervention strategies and set new SAT goals. Counselors also will examine the results to ensure that every student is guided toward and prepared for the entrance examination that best suits their strengths and needs.

“We are extremely proud of the success of our students on the SAT, as this extraordinary accomplishment illustrates how well each of our schools, from preschool through high school, is preparing students for success in higher education and future careers,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. This accomplishment follows the recent release of record-high ACT scores earned by CCSD students and data that shows how few CCSD graduates need remediation at the college level.

“These outstanding achievements would not be possible without the enduring support of our entire community – families, teachers, staff, administrators, business partners, volunteers, taxpayers who support the continuation of our Education SPLOST and a School Board that makes teaching and learning its top priority,” Dr. Hightower said. “Thank you to everyone who is helping us in meeting our mission of Educating the Emerging Generation!”


CCSD 2016 SAT Results

Ralph Bunche Center Playground Dedicated in Memory of Student


School and community gathered together at the Ralph Bunche Center in Canton on Friday, September 16, to dedicate the “Playground for Smiles” in memory of a young student who passed away last year.

School and community gathered together at the Ralph Bunche Center in Canton on Friday, September 16, to dedicate the “Playground for Smiles” in memory of a young student who passed away last year.

Christian Egner attended the preschool center for two years, before he succumbed to complications from asthma.

“Christian enjoyed life to the fullest,” Principal Donna Adams said during the ceremony. “We were blessed to have Christian dance through these halls and leap on this playground.”

Christian’s parents, Keith and Trish Egner, participated in the dedication, and members of the Laurel Canyon Optimist Club and Canton First Baptist Church attended as well. Teasley Middle School peer readers were on hand, and Ella Geist performed a song for the gathering. Ralph Bunche students closed out the ceremony with some favorite children’s songs.

The news of the dedication, Mr. Egner said, “brought joy to my heart and to my family.”

“His name will go on, and he’ll be remembered for years to come,” Mr. Egner said.

The Soleil community in Laurel Canyon was instrumental in raising funds for the new playground equipment.

The Egner family has established a foundation in Christian’s name, and a 5K Smile Run is scheduled for October 8 to benefit the Ralph Bunche Center. More information is online: http://www.thesmilerun.com/


Keith Egner and his wife, Trish, thank everyone for their support and the remembrance in honor of their son.


Ralph Bunche teachers and students sang several songs for the audience.


Preschool students performed several songs at the end of the ceremony. Ralph Bunche staff members Annie Andrews, left, and Tiffany Kelly sing along with Easton Elrod, center, and Savannah Barnes, right.

CCSD Cafeterias Add New Menu Items

Category : CCSD


Ravioli is among the new menu offerings in CCSD cafeterias.

Cherokee County School District cafeterias are featuring some new menu items this month, giving students and staff more variety and tastier fare for their trays. Middle and high school cafeterias have added Asian chicken bowls, popcorn chicken bowls, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and “breakfast for lunch.”  Cafeterias will also have “game day” menus on Fridays, with items like chicken finger baskets, bacon cheeseburgers, and chili dogs.  Fruit smoothies also have been added, in various fruit and ice flavor combinations. 


Fourth grader Anahi Martinez-Lora tries a pluot (aka a “dinosaur egg”) at Arnold Mill Elementary.

Elementary cafeterias have added oven fried chicken, Chicken Alfredo and ravioli to the menus. Elementary schools also added a new fruit to the menus during September, with the addition of pluots—a combination of a plum and an apricot.  The round, purplish pink fruits have been promoted as “dinosaur eggs” and were well received by the K-5 lunch crowd.   

Breakfast and lunch menus for all schools can be viewed online at http://cherokeek12.net/schoolnutrition/menus/ 


 Cover photo:  School Nutrition Supervisor Tina Farmer; the new Asian chicken bowl entrée; and Arnold Mill fourth-grader Trenton Elario tries a pluot.  A friend asked Trenton if he was eating an apple.  Trenton said, “It’s not an apple, but whatever it is, it’s good!”


Seven CCSD High School Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists

Seven Cherokee County School District high school seniors today were named 2017 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists!

They are: of Creekview HS, Jack Pace; of River Ridge HS, Anabelle Paulino; of Sequoyah HS, Katie Bates and Alex Morrison; and of Woodstock HS, Alex Andon, A.J. Cox and Evan Vines.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which oversees the prestigious competition, has named 16,000 semi-finalists, who were selected based on outstanding 2015 PSAT scores.  Less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors are named semi-finalists.

To be considered as a finalist, the students next will submit a detailed application noting their academic achievements, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors; an endorsement and recommendation from a high school official; and an essay.  Students also must earn SAT scores that confirm their PSAT performance.

The anticipated 15,000 finalists will compete for 7,500 scholarships worth about $33 million, which will be awarded in the spring.


Alex Andon


Katie Bates


A.J. Cox


Alex Morrison


Jack Pace


Anabelle Paulino


Evan Vines

CCSD Educators Selected as MIE Experts

The Cherokee County School District is congratulating nine more of its educators named Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts!

Microsoft MIE ExpertBobby Blount, CCSD Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Information Services; Sixes ES Principal Cindy Crews; Indian Knoll ES Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis; Teasley MS teacher Tammy Lafoon; Woodstock ES teacher Caitlin Crews; CCSD Technology Project Specialist Freda Williams and Instructional Technology Specialists Jim Berry, Susan Dreschel and Lee Patti are joining 4,800 educators in the MIE Expert program worldwide.

Recognized as global leaders in using technology to transform education, MIE Experts are selected by Microsoft to share ideas, try new approaches and learn from each other as a global community dedicated to improving student outcomes through technology.

Bobby Blount

Assistant Superintendent Bobby Blount

“Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts are inspiring examples of educators applying new ways of teaching and learning in their classrooms that motivate students and empower them to achieve more,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. “We celebrate and support the work they do every day!”

Eleven CCSD employees previously named MIE Experts also were invited by Microsoft to continue in the program: Sandi Adams, Jessica Hemphill, Stephanie Gauthier, Dianne Steinbeck, Lauren Pittman, Karina Bailey, Julie Key, Kimberley Forrester, Lee Coker, Lisa Lougheed and Merry Willis.

Cindy Crews

Principal Cindy Crews

The new MIE Experts will be recognized by the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Oct. 13 meeting of School Board.

CCSD Expands After-School Healthy Snack Program

The Cherokee County School District is expanding its efforts to ensure hunger doesn’t stop student learning.

The School District is growing its after-school healthy snack program, which provides free snacks at schools in attendance areas with qualifying levels of students who receive free or reduced-price meals.  Nearly one-third of CCSD’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Through the federally funded program, snacks that meet healthy eating standards are available to students participating in regularly scheduled after-school educational or enrichment activities, such as CCSD’s After School Program, tutoring and extra-curricular clubs.

In addition to the five CCSD schools already participating, the program will begin Sept. 12 at Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, Clayton Elementary School, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy and Knox Elementary School.  It will be expanded later this fall to Cherokee High School, Etowah High School and E.T. Booth Middle School.

“The research is clear: hunger negatively impacts students… it hinders their learning, increases behavioral issues and affects their physical, mental and emotional health,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “While in an ideal world, every child would receive adequate nutrition without our support, the reality is that some students struggle to get enough to eat.  We want to do our part to ensure that every child is ready to learn and that includes not being distracted by hunger.”

Cherokee County Superintendent Named to State Superintendents’ Advisory Council

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has been selected to serve on the State Superintendents’ Advisory Council.

HIGHTOWER Dr Brian V 2016

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower

State School Superintendent Richard Woods annually appoints the Council, which is made up of about 20 local superintendents representing urban, suburban and rural districts from regions across the state.

The Council provides feedback on the local impact of State-level decisions, and its first meeting recently held at the State Department of Education’s offices focused on the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The group will meet regularly to discuss important issues affecting public education and share feedback from their communities.

“It’s my honor to represent our School District and our region at the State level, as I see it as part of my duty as a Superintendent of Schools to speak up for our students, teachers and parents in every way possible,” Dr. Hightower said.  “They have put their trust in me and our School Board to be their voice, and this is an outstanding opportunity to continue to fulfill my role as an educator, leader and advocate for public education.”

School Board Proclaims September as National Attendance Awareness Month

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 6.5 million students missed 15 or more days – almost a full month – of school during the 2013-14 academic year. During that school year, students were chronically absent in every state, and nearly 500 school districts reported that 30 percent or more of their students missed at least three weeks of school.

Attendance Awareness Month

While the Cherokee County School District maintains strong overall student attendance rates (+96% average daily attendance over the past ten years), the attendance of every student every day is critically important to their individual success, as well as the overall continued high performance of the School District and the Cherokee County community at large.

The Georgia Department of Education is calling upon Superintendents of Schools and School Boards to make the promotion of attendance a priority including through support of National Attendance Awareness Month, which is observed in September.

The Cherokee County School Board unanimously approved a proclamation at its September 1, 2016 meeting.  Here is the language of the proclamation:

“Whereas, September is observed as National Attendance Awareness Month to support a growing national movement of school leaders looking beyond average daily attendance and truancy numbers to identify and address the challenges that keep students from getting to school every day; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper for the Cherokee County School District to observe this month as a continuation of its focus on continuously increasing student achievement; and

Whereas, adoption of a proclamation, along with other promotion by the Cherokee County School District, will raise awareness of the importance of every student attending school every day;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Cherokee County School Board, do hereby proclaim September as National Attendance Awareness Month in the Cherokee County School District.”

In addition to this proclamation, CCSD will be promoting the month in the community through its various communications platforms.