CCSD Recognizes 10 Regional, 2 State Winners for Social Studies Fair

CCSD Recognizes 10 Regional, 2 State Winners for Social Studies Fair

Ten Cherokee County School District projects submitted by students won “Best in Fair” at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies (GCSS) Northwest Regional Fair, with two going on to win at the State Fair!

Makenzie Bird

Emma Lambert

The School District held a district-level fair for which 104 projects were entered, with 32 placing first and advancing to Regionals. At Regionals, CCSD earned 10 of the 16 “Best in Fair” top prizes award. Those winners advanced to State, where Knox Elementary School fifth-grader Makenzie Bird and E.T. Booth Middle School eighth-grader Emma Lambert each won Best in Class in sociology/psychology – one for elementary schools and one for secondary schools!

They were recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board this month, along with the District and Region winners, who are:

Daihanna Aragon, E.T. Booth MS, Sociology/Psychology
Ben Barchie and Nate Sardonia, Macedonia ES, Sociology/Psychology
Zoey Beasley, Woodstock MS, Sociology/Psychology – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Justin Bolsen and Cal Pace, Creekland MS, Geography
Lola Burdick, Keganne Keiger and Riley Stray, Sixes ES, Sociology/Psychology – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Katie Calloway and Daniella Molina, Bascomb ES, Anthropology
Ella Casteel and Abbey Farmer, Woodstock ES, History – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Emily Cranston, Ellie Draughon and Kristen Malencisk, Woodstock HS, Sociology/Psychology
Ella Cudabac, Neah Huguley and Abby Richardson, Johnston ES, Sociology/Psychology
Shane Dallas, River Ridge HS, History – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Jessica Dipita, Ella Adkins and Sharon Pradeep, Little River ES History
Sammy Hardison and Isaac Wolf, Knox ES, History
Noelle Harrington, Creekland MS, History
Rachel Hugenberg, Etowah HS, Anthropology
Brooks Johnson, Etowah HS, History
Avery Kmoch and Samantha Griffin, Woodstock ES, Sociology/Psychology
Julia Litrel, Woodstock HS, History – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Dellaina McCarty, Arnold Mill ES, Anthropology
Angelica Millen, River Ridge HS History
Stevie O’Connell, Arnold Mill ES, History – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Simran Patel, Mill Creek MS, Political Science
Vandy Reddish, Arnold Mill ES, History
Maximus Reynolds, Macedonia ES, Economics
Lexie-Anne Rodkey, Freedom MS, Economics
Chandler Stevenson, Freedom MS, History
Isabella Tedesco, Dean Rusk MS, Economics
Brittany Wallace, Sequoyah HS, Sociology/Psychology – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Benjamin Willett, E.T. Booth MS, Economics – “Best in Fair” at Regional
Milan Yadav, Freedom MS, History
Ian Zieg, Avery ES, History

CCSD Announces Class of 2017 Valedictorians, Salutatorians

Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorians

Congratulations to the Valedictorians and Salutatorians for the Cherokee County School District’s Class of 2017! These students and their parents will be honored by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the 17th Annual Scholar Recognition Banquet on Wednesday at Woodmont Golf & Country Club. Each student also is invited to select a favorite teacher, and these teachers are honored at the Banquet as well.

Cherokee HS
Valedictorian Julia Kochansky
Salutatorian Jodi Dowis

Creekview HS
Valedictorian Michelle McCord
Salutatorian Grace Maavere

Etowah HS
Valedictorian Sindhu Manivannan
Salutatorian Tony Wineman

River Ridge HS
Valedictorian Tej Patel
Salutatorian Tiana Hom

Sequoyah HS
Valedictorian Isabelle Riddle
Salutatorian Kat Massengale

Woodstock HS
Valedictorian Alex Andon
Salutatorian AJ Cox

CCSD Teachers Honored with Golden Apple Awards

Honorees are, from left to right, front row: Debby Amoss, Creekland MS; Cassie Fainter, Teasley MS; David Wilkins, Polaris Evening Program; Amy Dwyer, Woodstock ES; scholarship recipient Camryn Goins of River Ridge HS; Georgia Branson, Little River ES; Curtis Durham, Tippens Educational Center; back row: Kirsten Hargadon, Macedonia ES; Jessica Jones, Sixes ES; Lauren Garcia, Johnston Preschool Center; Katie Freeman, River Ridge HS; Cheryl Morgan, ACE Academy; Georgia Heard, Woodstock MS; Kellie Mason, Woodstock HS; and Bonnie Smith, Avery ES.

Fourteen Cherokee County School District teachers have been honored with Golden Apple Awards!

The Gamma Eta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International presents the awards annually to teachers from select CCSD schools, which are rotated every year. Each school in that year’s group is invited to nominate a teacher for recognition based upon designated criteria; honorees are selected by their peers.

This year’s honorees are: Cheryl Morgan, ACE Academy; Bonnie Smith, Avery ES; Debby Amoss, Creekland MS; Lauren Garcia, Johnston Preschool Center; Georgia Branson, Little River ES; Kirsten Hargadon, Macedonia ES; David Wilkins, Polaris Evening Program; Katie Freeman, River Ridge HS; Jessica Jones, Sixes ES; Cassie Fainter, Teasley MS; Curtis Durham, Tippens Educational Center; Amy Dwyer, Woodstock ES; Kellie Mason, Woodstock HS; and Georgia Heard, Woodstock MS.

Additionally, the society, which is dedicated to promoting professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education, presents a scholarship annually to a graduating CCSD high school senior who has committed to pursuing a degree in education. This year’s recipient is Camryn Goins from River Ridge HS, who will attend University of North Georgia to pursue a dual bachelor’s degree in early childhood and special education.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower provided closing remarks at the awards ceremony and praised the honorees for their contributions to CCSD and public education.


Cherokee County School Board Reviews Proposed 2017-18 Budget

The School Board on Thursday, May 18, 2017, in preparation for next month’s vote, reviewed the Superintendent’s Recommended 2017-18 Annual Budget, which not only increases the District’s investment in classroom instruction, but also its reserves savings.

Following a preview earlier this month, the School Board spent the business portion of Thursday’s meeting diving into the details of the budget, which includes $382 Million for day-to-day operations, with 86% of that total funding salaries and benefits for CCSD’s 4,500 full-time and 1,000 part-time and at-will employees.

The School Board will hold public hearings on the budget at 11:30 a.m. on June 6 and 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on June 15, with the budget up for a vote at the 7 p.m. regular meeting on June 15; the hearings and the budget all will be held in the CCSD Downtown Center school board auditorium.

The budget, which does not call for a millage increase, directs 71% of day-to-day operating funds to classroom instruction, with new hiring in preparation for anticipated student enrollment growth, continued lowering of average class sizes and new instructional resources for elementary English and language arts classes.

“That’s spectacular,” Assistant Superintendent of Financial Management Ken Owen said of the percentage directed to classrooms, noting it’s a “very tight budget,” but entirely focused on the priorities outlined by the School Board.

State funding did increase, Mr. Owen said, but those monies only covered the State portion of a 2% salary increase recommended by the Governor, hikes in required retirement system fees and costs associated with rises in student enrollment. The State’s continued “austerity budget reduction” withholding of $4 Million owed to the District based on the education funding formula is a pinch that still hurts.

“It’s a significant reduction,” Mr. Owen said of the $4 Million. “We could really use that money to fund more teachers.”

The total budget calls for investing $18.5 Million through the building fund in construction, renovation and technology projects, including the renovation of the Boston Elementary School entrance to ease traffic congestion and the replacement of older computers and devices used by teachers and students. Six more schools will be retrofit with security foyers to tighten visitor security, 19 school buses will be added to the fleet for growth and retirement of older vehicles and a new online GPS system will allow parents to track the location of their child’s school bus.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said the budget also works toward his goal of earning a triple-A credit rating for the District by increasing reserves – the operating budget’s savings account, and paying off bond debt incurred by the rapid construction plan required by the county’s incredible growth over the last two decades.

“We really want that perfect credit rating,” Dr. Hightower said, noting it will greatly reduce costs for insurance and borrowing and enhance overall financial stability. “Setting aside more reserve funds and staying focused on retiring debt may keep us from moving forward on every innovation we’d like to see in our schools, but it’s just as important an investment.”

To that end, the budget calls for shifting half a mill in the tax rate from operating to debt service, as well as increasing the proposed operating reserves to $49 Million, with an additional $29 Million in the building fund reserves.

The Board during its meeting Thursday also approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Nate Cline, currently a teacher on special assignment to assist with administration at Etowah High School, to serve as an Assistant Principal at Creekland Middle School next school year.

In a surprise announcement, Dr. Hightower presented the third of his four inaugural “Superintendent’s Game Changer Awards,” with the recognition for Instructional Advocacy presented to Lisa-Marie Haygood, a longtime outstanding advocate for CCSD schools as a PTA volunteer and leader at the local, regional and State level including past service as Georgia PTA President.

The School Board also:

• Heard presentations from Student Advisor Joseph Henderson of ACE Academy and Cherokee HS Student Delegate Julia Kochansky on their experience serving and their post-graduation plans;

• Dr. Kecia Ray, Executive Director for the Center for Digital Education, presented to CCSD and Assistant Superintendent of Technology Bobby Blount a plaque in recognition of CCSD being named for the 12th time to the nation’s “Top 10” of large school systems effectively using technology in education;

• Recognized Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lauren Pittman and her students for their featured role in Microsoft national campaign and commercial;

• Recognized Woodstock ES teacher Kristen Brooks as an Apple Distinguished Educator;

• Recognized Creekview HS Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Dr. Kevin Higgins as an inductee into Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame;

• Recognized Etowah HS junior Joseph Young as winner of a 2017 Junior Travel Award for Outstanding Achievement on National Spanish Examination;

• Recognized 2016-17 Social Studies Fair District, Regional and State Winners;

• Recognized 2016-17 Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition Winners;

• Recognized Avery ES as 2016-17 Elementary School County Academic Bowl Team Champions;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions

• Recognized 2016-17 Student Advisor to School Board and Student Delegates for their service;

• Recognized recipients of 2017 Aramark Education Scholarships;

• Approved a Partnership Agreement with Tri-State Communications (which includes WLJA 101.1 FM and Enjoy! Cherokee magazine) that includes Student of the Day and Game of the Week recognitions, as well as a public service campaign to raise awareness of bus traffic laws and sharing the road safely with school buses;

• Adopted a House Bill 306 Resolution to move forward with the State Legislature’s approval to change the School Board compensation model effective January 2019;

• Approved the final reading of updates to personnel and student harassment policies;

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

• Approved out-of-state travel;

• Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;

• Approved monthly capital outlay projects report;

• Approved special lease agreements;

• Approved annual update of 2017-18 Student Discipline Code; and,

• Met in Executive Session to review a student discipline matter.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15, 2017

State Board of Education to Hold Public Meeting on May 30 at Woodstock HS

State Board of Education member Scott Johnson will hold a public hearing for citizens in the Eleventh Congressional District from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, at Woodstock HS.  Anyone who wants to speak on the topic of public education is invited to attend and asked to sign in upon arrival.

The Georgia Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services or activities.  Individuals who need assistance or auxiliary aids for participation in this public forum are invited to make their needs known to Debbie Caputo at 404-657-7410no later than 72 hours before the scheduled event.

CCSD Recognizes Young Georgia Authors Regional & State Winners

Category : CCSD

Imani Johnson

Six Cherokee County School District students have earned regional recognition for their writing, with two earning first-place at the State level!

The Young Georgia Authors writing competition, sponsored by the Georgia Council of Teachers of English with support from the Georgia Department of Education, encourages students in grades kindergarten through 12th to develop enthusiasm for and expertise in their writing and recognizes student writings success.

More than 150 school-level winners from throughout CCSD competed at the District level, at which a first-place winner was selected for each grade.

Alicia Mazzura

Those 13 winners advanced to regional competition, where six students won first-place. Two of those entries then won first-place at the State competition: River Ridge High School ninth-grader Alicia Mazzura and senior Imani Johnson!

The 13 District winners, including the Region and State champions, will be recognized by the School Board and Superintendent at tonight’s School Board meeting.

They are:
Kindergarten: Zavier Reinhart, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy for “The Littl Scool Bus” Grade 1: Chloe Okoth, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy for “My Wiggly Tooth”
Grade 2: Lucy Pagano, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy for “Oscar”
Grade 3: Samantha Moore, Bascomb ES for “Forest Folk”
Grade 4: Jacob Spilker, Woodstock ES for “The Day I Turned Into A Dog” – also First-place, Region
Grade 5: Jared Perry, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy for “Attacked At Sea”
Grade 6: Sydney Crowe, Creekland MS for “Ideas” – also First-place, Region
Grade 7: Eden Price, Woodstock MS for “In the Rain” – also First-place, Region
Grade 8: Mary Grace Chandler, Mill Creek MS for “The Burning of Westly Oak”
Grade 9: Alicia Mazzura, River Ridge HS for “Do Not Tell Me Who To Be” – also First-place, Region and State
Grade 10: Rolando Lopez, Cherokee HS for “Fernando” — also First-place, Region
Grade 11: Nadia Willis, ACE Academy for “First Flight”
Grade 12: Imani Johnson, River Ridge HS for “America What Time Is It?” – also First-place, Region and State

CCSD High Schools All Named to Washington Post’s “Most Challenging” List

America's Most Challenging High Schools logo

All six Cherokee County School District high schools have been named to the Washington Post’s “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” list!

Only 12 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to earn placement in the rankings, and all of CCSD’s high schools ranked higher this year than in 2016.

“We set high expectations for teaching and learning in our schools, and our teachers and students rise to that challenge,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’re honored to be recognized for challenging our high school students as we prepare them for college and career success. Thank you to all of our employees, parents, volunteers, partners and our outstanding students for yet another mark of distinction for our School District!”

The list ranks schools through an index formula that includes the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.

CCSD Sets 2017-18 Open House/Walk-Through Schedule

The Cherokee County School District’s 2017-18 school year will begin on Tuesday, August 1.  Each school’s front office will be open daily beginning Tuesday, July 18.  For students who are new to CCSD, parents may register them at the respective school anytime between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. beginning on July 18.

Class schedules/teacher assignments will be available at each school’s scheduled open house/walk-through event.  These events are July 25-31.  Please see the schedule below for dates and times.

CCSD 2017-18 Open House/Walk-Through Schedule

2017-18 CCSD Calendar (Print Version)

First Day Facts 2017-18

Message from the Superintendent: Response to Last Week’s Incident

Please see the following message from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower:

On Friday, May 12, we experienced a situation at Woodstock High School that we, as educators and parents, all hope will never happen: a student injured another child with a weapon.

I am very thankful that the injuries suffered were not life-threatening, and that the student was transported in stable condition and released after observation. The student charged by police in the incident also will face disciplinary action by the school.

We all are very appreciative of our students and staff, who followed the lessons learned in emergency drills and stayed safe and calm during the law enforcement response. While we maintain our own CCSD School Police Department, we are very grateful for the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, Woodstock Police Department and other agencies that responded. These partners care for our students and staff, and we value them.

I’d also like to thank our community’s parents for entrusting your children to us every day. As a parent, I know when incidents like this happen – even if not at your child’s school – it can cause you alarm and stress. The messages you saw on our website and Twitter feed, and shared with local media, also were being communicated to Woodstock High School and Woodstock Middle School parents using our School Messenger system.

This incident reminds us all of the importance of this communications system; at the start of every school year, please confirm that your child’s school has your correct email address, cell phone number and home phone number. To subscribe to the text service, ensure your cell phone number is on file and then text any one of the following words to the number 68453: subscribe, opt-in or yes. Learn more about our Emergency Notifications practices here:

Thank you for your support of the School District and for your role in our continued success.

Three CCSD Principals Retiring, Receptions Planned

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, recognizes retiring Principals, from left to right, Dr. Keith Ingram of Ball Ground ES STEM Academy, Dr. Deborah Wiseman of Creekland MS and Cindy Cooper of Dean Rusk MS.

Three Cherokee County School District Principals are retiring, and receptions are planned for the community to honor them.

Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy Dr. Keith Ingram, Creekland Middle School Principal Dr. Deborah Wiseman and Dean Rusk Middle School Principal Cindy Cooper all are retiring at the end of this school year after long and successful careers in education.

The retiring leaders were recognized by the School Board, Superintendent of Schools, senior staff and their fellow Principals during a recent lunch at which they received plaques of appreciation.

Each school will host a retirement reception that is open to the community:

Ms. Cooper: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 15, at Dean Rusk MS

Dr. Wiseman: 3:45 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, at Creekland MS

Dr. Ingram: 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 19, at Ball Ground ES STEM Academy