CCSD School Nutrition Wins Georgia’s Golden Radish Award at Top Platinum Level!

CCSD School Nutrition Wins Georgia’s Golden Radish Award at Top Platinum Level!

From left to right: Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls, Cherokee County School District School Nutrition Director Tina Farmer, Georgia Department of Health Commissioner Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, UGA Associate Dean for Extension Dr. Laura Perry Johnson, and Georgia State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods.

The Cherokee County School District has earned the highest honor in the State for providing fresh, healthy meals to students!

The Cherokee County School District has earned the highest honor in the State for providing fresh, healthy meals to students!

From left to right: School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, CCSD School Nutrition Coordinator Amanda Fleming and Director Tina Farmer and Chief Financial Officer Ken Owen.

CCSD’s School Nutrition program, which serves 5 million meals each year in school cafeterias, won the Golden Radish Award at the Platinum Level from the Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture, Public Health, Education and Georgia Organics.

“Access to fresh, locally grown food is not just important for students’ physical health – it’s part of their academic development as well,” State Superintendent Richard Woods said. “When children eat fresh, healthy meals, they have the fuel they need for a successful day of learning.”

Canton ES STEM Academy School Nutrition Worker Dixie Byers washes Georgia apples for students to enjoy.

The Platinum level is the highest recognition awarded to Georgia school nutrition programs for farm-to-school programs… from serving locally grown food in cafeterias to teaching students science through school gardens to demonstrating how to cook healthy meals.  Cherokee County is one of only 10 school districts in the state to win this honor, and it is only CCSD’s second year in the competition, winning Gold last year.

CCSD School Nutrition Director Tina Farmer and Coordinator Amanda Fleming accepted the award with School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and Chief Financial Officer Ken Owen at a ceremony Monday in Atlanta.

Districts were evaluated on their work in 10 different activity areas.  CCSD was praised for its many accomplishments during the 2016-17 school year including:

• Over 4.8 million meals served featured at least one locally produced item.

• Teachers use farm field trips, farm-based video lessons, planting in school gardens, and cooking activities to provide integrated agricultural education within the established curriculum throughout the school year.

• The School Nutrition department partners with the Cherokee County Farm Bureau to foster an engaged farm-to-school community with support from a broad range of community members including parents, teachers, administrators, farmers, Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners, the Upper Etowah River Alliance, local churches and faith-based organizations, the Boy Scouts of America, and more.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal also praised the Golden Radish Award winners for their commitment to children’s health.

“The vitamins, minerals and health benefits from local fresh fruit and vegetables, not only allow our children to be physically healthy, but research has shown that healthy eating is also key to brain development,” said Commissioner O’Neal. “Here in Georgia, we are leading the nation in identifying ways to increase early brain development, and healthy nutrition is an enormous part of that.”

Canton ES STEM Academy School Nutrition Worker Barbara Sams washes Georgia-grown tomatoes and cucumbers to prepare garden salads for the day’s menu.


8 CCSD Students Named Wendy’s High School Heisman Winners, One a State Finalist!

Category : CCSD

Wendy's Heisman Winners photo collage

Eight outstanding Cherokee County School District high school seniors have been named Wendy’s High School Heisman Winners, and one is a State award finalist!

Since 1994, Wendy’s and the Heisman Trophy Trust have honored the nation’s most esteemed students. The honor recognizes students for “giving back to their communities, treating people with respect, continuing education and excelling on the athletic field.”

School winners from CCSD are: Cherokee HS, Taylor Cates; Creekview HS, Mackenzie Cherry; Etowah HS, Elizabeth Hugenberg and Jake Weitkamp; River Ridge HS, Chris Cochran and Isabella Delgado; Sequoyah HS, Alyssa Cagle; and Woodstock HS, Preston Alsup.  Alyssa Cagle of Sequoyah HS also was named a State finalist.

School Winners will receive a School Winner certificate and a Wendy’s High School Heisman Patch.  State Finalists will receive a bronze medal, a Wendy’s High School Heisman State Finalist patch and a $25 gift card.


Superintendent of Schools Wins State Award for School & Community Relations

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, center, is congratulated on winning the Georgia School Public Relations Association’s Outstanding Leadership in School/Community Relations Award by President-Elect JD Hardin and President Barbara P. Jacoby. The surprise presentation was made at the Association’s Annual Conference.

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has been honored with a top state award for school and community relations!

The Georgia School Public Relations Association presented Dr. Hightower with the Outstanding Leadership in School/Community Relations Award at its Annual Conference.

The award recognizes an individual, other than those directly responsible for a public relations program, who has proven himself or herself to be a leader in using effective school and community relations to build support for public education in his or her community.

“Dr. Brian V. Hightower’s support for school and community relations sets a standard that all School Superintendents should aim to achieve,” GSPRA President Barbara P. Jacoby said. “He truly understands the importance of communicating with students, parents, employees, volunteers, partners and the community at large and the value of building relationships with all of these groups that are vital to the success of a school system.”

Previous recipients of the annual award in recent years include: former Fulton County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Avossa; Dr. Stan DeJarnett, Executive Director, Georgia Vision Project; and former Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood.

“Communicating with and engaging with our community is a responsibility I take very seriously as Superintendent of Schools,” Dr. Hightower said. “Public schools play a vital role in the lives of everyone in a community. It’s my job as Superintendent not only to ensure that the best teaching and learning possible happens in our classrooms, but also that our community knows about our successes and challenges and has the opportunity to get involved and support our mission.”

Dr. Hightower was praised for initiatives he has championed since taking office including an increase in internal and external communications, a user-friendly website redesign, an image and identity campaign and the newly launched VILLA parent academy in cooperation with the Georgia School Boards Association.

He participates in nonstop community outreach including visiting all of CCSD’s schools and centers several times a year and attending school special events; meetings with parents, employees from all levels of the organization, business partners and community leaders; and giving informational presentations for civic clubs and business and economic development groups.

Beyond engaging with his School District, Dr. Hightower also was recognized for his advocacy efforts on behalf of public education in his community and statewide.


Message from Superintendent: Three Etowah HS Students Charged for Disrupting School

Category : CCSD


On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised the CCSD School Police Department today charged three Etowah High School students after their social media posts about an attack on the school caused a panic.

The students face charges of disrupting public school; they will face additional administrative disciplinary action, which we can’t disclose due to Federal privacy laws.

These students’ posts on Thursday led to a panic among students and their parents, who then called 911 and CCSD’s School Police tip line and emailed and messaged police and CCSD officials. Although we believe our prompt response by emailing Etowah HS and E.T. Booth MS parents Thursday night and providing an increased police presence on campus today calmed many families, we still saw 695 absences (29%) today at Etowah HS and 209 absences (12%) at E.T. Booth MS.

We hope parents will use this as a teachable moment. Making a threat of violence is not a joke — it will lead to disciplinary action and potentially criminal prosecution. When students hear a rumor, they need to report it to the police or school administration instead of posting it on social media, which can hinder an investigation.

The safety and security of our students and employees is our top priority. We care about your children, and that care guides everything we do. This past week has been very challenging for our entire community, and we appreciate your continued support.

Barbara P. Jacoby
Chief Communications Officer
Cherokee County School District


Cherokee High School Senior Earns Perfect ACT Score!

Category : CCSD

Emily Costello

A Cherokee County School District senior has achieved a perfect score on the ACT!

Cherokee High School senior Emily Costello earned the top composite score of 36 on the college entrance and placement test during its September administration.

On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earns the top score!

Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead, according to ACT. The exam includes English, mathematics, reading and science sections; each section is scored on a scale of 1-36, and the composite score is the average of the four.

In addition to this accomplishment, Emily is currently one of the top 10 students in the Cherokee HS Class of 2018, an All-County Swim Team member and four-time State qualifier, and a Georgia Music Educators Association All State Band and District Honor Band selection, playing first chair oboe.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Alpha-Gamma Service Club, Student Government Association and Marching Band, serves an attorney for the school’s Region Champion Mock Trial team, and is one of the founders and event managers for this years’ TedxYouth event at Cherokee High.

A Superintendent’s Key Scholar, Emily earned the University of Georgia Merit Award, was selected for the Governor’s Honors Program as a sophomore in Music (Oboe) and Science, is a member of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, and serves as a junior counselor for Georgia Tech Women in Engineering (TEC) Camp.

Emily will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board Meeting on November 16, 2017.


Message from the Superintendent: Etowah HS Arrests

Category : CCSD


Dear Parents,

On behalf of the Superintendent, this message is in response to today’s arrest of two of our students that is understandably generating significant media attention.

Two Etowah High School students were arrested by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office on very serious charges related to alleged plans to harm students and staff at their school.

We will not tolerate violence — or threats of violence — at any our schools. This stand will be reflected in the severe administrative disciplinary actions we will take against these students.

Our community is strongest when we work together to keep all of us – especially our children – safe. We deeply appreciate the community member who reported information to the Woodstock Police Department tip line that ultimately led to these arrests by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.

Our School District Police Department and administrative staff assisted with the investigation in a continuation of our longtime partnership with the Sheriff’s Office to maintain a safe and secure environment for our students and employees.

We understand your concerns and why you want more information, but we will continue to defer to the Sheriff’s Office to release details when, and if, appropriate, in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

We take all threats to the safety and security of our students and employees very seriously. Anyone with information about threats is asked to immediately report it to police. CCSD School Police has a dedicated hotline for students and parents to use any time: 770.720.4061.

Barbara P. Jacoby
Chief Communications Officer
Cherokee County School District

24 CCSD Students Honored as National Merit Commended Students!

CCSD National Merit Commended Scholar Photos

Twenty-four Cherokee County School District high school seniors have been named National Merit Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation!

This recognition, up from 13 honorees in CCSD last year, is based on the high scores the students earned on the PSAT. Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, some become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses that will be awarded in the spring.

They are:

Cherokee HS
Stephanie Bradley
Emily Endozo
Keegan Sigler

Creekview HS
Jack DellaPenna
Kristen Farmer
Zoe Love
Mitch Robinson
Gracen Wallace

Etowah HS
Ricky Alvarado-Digiulio
Tommy Humphrey
Justice Hunt
Sean Waldron

River Ridge HS
Julie Boll
Emma Harrison

Sequoyah HS
Alyssa Barone
Theodore “Teddy” Campbell
Mollie McNeil
Reece Richardson
Emily Sommer

Woodstock HS
Michelle Belikova
Julia Litrel
Reese Mallory
Taylor Shephard
Sasha Stogniy


CCSD Careers Teacher Selected for Elite State Leadership Program!

Judi Haggerty

A Cherokee County School District Career Pathways teacher is among an elite group of educators selected for a State leadership program!

Judi Haggerty of River Ridge High School has been named to the inaugural LEAD CTAE (Career, Technical and Agricultural Education) leadership development program.

Sponsored by the CTAE Resource Network, Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education, the program is designed to provide career education teachers with valuable skills and knowledge in the areas of team building, leadership, priority management, business engagement, legislative advocacy and policy, communication, instruction, economic development.

The group of 20 teachers selected from CTAE educators statewide will participate in five program sessions beginning in November and culminating at the annual GACTE summer conference. They represent 19 school systems and 14 program areas.


Avery ES Wins First Annual ‘Golden Shovel’ Award for School Garden

Category : CCSD

Avery ES was selected as the first winner of the Cherokee Farm to School committee’s “Golden Shovel” award for its “Project Learning Garden,” implemented by second-grade teacher Lori Hohl.

Karen Garland, who runs the K-5 Science Discovery Lab at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, came to present the award on behalf of the Farm to School committee along with Shirley Pahl of the Georgia Farm Bureau. They surprised Ms. Hohl in the media center with her class on Wednesday morning, October 18.

Ms. Garland said Avery ES was selected for its “Project Learning Garden, ” which is spear-headed by Ms. Hohl. “The garden has brought collaboration between grade levels in planning and implementing state standards. Teachers are developing STEAM styles learning environments for students; older and younger grade levels are working together to incorporate across curriculum standards using the garden as a hands-on learning tool,” Ms. Garland noted. “They also include the nutrition staff by having them prepare and serve produce grown in their garden as a vegetable choice. Lastly, their garden is about building relationships with their community.”

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and School Board member Patsy Jordan attended the surprise announcement, along with Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson, School Nutrition Director Tina Farmer and School Nutrition Coordinator Amanda Fleming. The award included a mounted plaque (complete with golden shovel), a new garden shovel for the school, and a raised garden bed donated by the Georgia Farm Bureau. Second-place winner Little River ES and third-place winner Indian Knoll ES will also receive raised garden beds from the Farm Bureau.

Board Briefs: School Board Hears Update on Cherokee HS Overcrowding

The School Board on Thursday, October 19, 2017, heard an update on meetings gathering community feedback on potential overcrowding mitigation plans for Cherokee High School.

While the campus doesn’t meet CCSD’s definition of “critically overcrowded” due to solutions already implemented, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he’s committed to asking for the School Board’s approval in December of a plan for alleviating overcrowding beginning next school year.

The School District held a first round of Attendance Area Focus Group meetings in the Cherokee Innovation Zone earlier this month, with two follow-up meetings scheduled for next week (7 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 at Cherokee HS) to provide detailed information in response to parent questions.

Three plans were reviewed with parents at those meetings, the details of which are posted online here; a fourth possibility floated by Canton ES STEM Academy parents also will be examined at next week’s meetings.

“We don’t necessarily like any of these plans because they affect students and staff who haven’t done anything other than keep waking up to go to school each day,” Dr. Hightower said.  “No matter what plan we choose, it will be a change for some of our students and staff.  What we’re tasked with is finding the plan that has the least negative impact on our programs, operations and budget.”

The three plans presented by staff so far are:

1. Cherokee HS expands to include the neighboring Canton ES STEM Academy campus; Canton ES STEM Academy students are consolidated into Knox ES and R.M. Moore ES, with STEM programs added to both of those campuses and R.M. Moore ES retaining Title I services (while Knox ES will not see enough of a demographic shift to qualify as Title I, students in need will continue to receive extra services).

2. Cherokee HS expands to include Canton ES STEM Academy; Canton ES STEM Academy students relocate to the ACE Academy campus (the 30-year-old Teasley MS building on Knox Bridge Highway); ACE Academy students move to the former Tippens ES (30-plus-year-old building on Glenwood Street in Canton, which will need significant renovations before that move can occur).

3. Cherokee HS splits, with ninth-graders relocated to the ACE Academy campus; ACE Academy students move to the former Tippens ES.
Under all three plans, no CCSD staff would be reduced despite some potential consolidation, as due to retirements and enrollment growth districtwide, new hiring is needed every year.

The fourth possibility suggested by some Canton ES STEM Academy parents also calls for Cherokee HS to expand to include Canton ES STEM Academy, with Canton ES STEM Academy students relocating to the ACE Academy campus.  But under this plan, ACE Academy — which serves students expelled from CCSD’s traditional high schools, as well as some who choose the program for its “work-at-your-own-pace” schedule -– would share the Canton ES STEM Academy building with the Cherokee HS freshmen.

Dr. Hightower emphasized Thursday night that the Cherokee Innovation Zone has received a lion’s share of CCSD construction funding over the last 15 years, totaling $140 Million, including construction of the replacement Canton ES, Hasty ES, Knox ES, Liberty ES and the replacement Teasley MS, a classroom addition at R.M. Moore ES and two rounds of improvements to Cherokee HS since 2002 that alone total nearly $15 Million.

“We have not ignored the Cherokee Zone in the past nor are we going to in the future,” Dr. Hightower said.  “What we’re talking about now is a necessary stop-gap – we remain committed to building a new high school to serve north Cherokee.  We now have the property to do it in Ball Ground or in Sutallee, and we also would love to find some land between Cherokee High and Woodstock.  What we need is the $70-plus Million to build the school, which due to aggressive school construction for the last 20 years to keep up with explosive growth, we won’t be able to borrow for another six years when our community renews the Education SPLOST.”

Dr. Hightower noted that, depending on the plan approved by the School Board, there may be opportunities to renovate and expand portions of the Cherokee High School campus while it’s still occupied… which can’t occur now due to the lack of available open space unused by portables or as parking for staff and students.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Woodstock HS senior Katherine Relick for achieving a perfect ACT Score;
• Recognized CCSD high school seniors named 2018 National Merit Semi-Finalists;
• Recognized Woodstock HS junior Anna Fournaris and Creekland MS seventh-grader Brayden Fuentes for being named to the State School Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council;
• Recognized Clayton ES PE teacher Anne Cross as State “Fire Up Your Feet” award and grant winner;
• Approved a proclamation in honor of Retired Educators Day;
• Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Brenau University, Cherokee Chorale, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Inc., North Central Georgia Learning Resources System, Waste Management and WellStar Health System;
• Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
• Approved monthly financial reports;
• Approved special lease agreements; and,
• Approved monthly personnel recommendations.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16, 2017.  There will be a 6 p.m. public input session on the Cherokee HS Attendance Area Plans.

student stands and leads the Pledge

Sequoyah HS Student Delegate Teddy Campbell leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the School Board meeting.

student shakes hands with school board members during recognition

Creekland MS student Brayden Fuentes is congratulated for her selection to the State Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council.

student shakes hands with school board members during recognition

Woodstock HS student Anna Fournaris is congratulated for her selection to the State Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council.

The Superintendent and School Board congratulate students named as National Merit Semi Finalists.

Karen Hawley at podium speaking to school board.

Karen Hawley speaks on behalf of the Retired Educators group after the School Board approved a proclamation.

Clayton ES PE teacher Anne Cross is recognized as a state winner and grant winner of the “Fire Up Your Feet” award for encouraging student fitness.

student shakes hands with superintendent.

Woodstock HS student Katherine Relick is congratulated by Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower for her achievement of scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT.