Message from the Superintendent: Student Political Activity

Message from the Superintendent: Student Political Activity

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Category : CCSD

The following message was sent on behalf of the Superintendent of Schools to CCSD parents on Feb. 28, 2018:

Dear Parents,

High school students across the country are planning to participate in the National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14, to protest school shootings and to honor the students and teachers killed on Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School.

We respect students’ rights to political speech and to assemble, but also are strongly committed to ensuring such activities don’t disrupt the education of their classmates.

In anticipation that our students will want to join in the National event, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower today directed all of our high school Principals to assist their school’s student government leaders in planning student-led observances.

These events will be held at the same time as the National event from approximately 10 to 10:17 a.m. on March 14. While student led, the events will be supervised by school administrators and CCSD School Police Officers to ensure safety and security.

Students are not required to participate in these events, and classroom activities will continue during these events. Students who participate in the events will not face academic penalty or disciplinary action as long as they promptly return to class at the event’s conclusion.

It is our hope that these events will be a time for students to reflect on the lives lost in Parkland, strengthen their feelings of school unity and know that their School District supports them.

Barbara P. Jacoby
Chief Communications Officer
Cherokee County School District


Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Named a Georgia Reward School!

Category : CCSD

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy has been named a Georgia High-Progress Reward School!

This designation from the Georgia Department of Education recognizes Clark Creek for being among the top 10% of Title I schools in Georgia making the greatest progress in improving student mastery of performance standards as measured by statewide assessments. A Title I school has a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Joey Moss

“Being recognized as a High-Progress Reward School affirms the commitment of our staff, students, and parents to maintaining high performance and continuous improvement,” Principal Joey Moss said. “We take pride in the teaching and learning that takes place at Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy. Our teachers and staff members are dedicated to meeting the needs of all students to ensure they achieve their highest potential and meet their academic goals.”

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy has earned numerous honors in recognition of its outstanding academics and STEM programs, including being the first school in the Cherokee County School District (and only the 11th elementary school in Georgia) to earn State STEM Certification.

Most recently, the school was tapped as a 2017 Georgia STEM Education Award finalist by The Technology Association of Georgia and the TAG Education Collaborative, and was named the Georgia winner of the 2017 Program Excellence Award presented by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and Paxton-Patterson.

“We are committed to providing the best education possible to every member of our ‘emerging generation,’ and this honor recognizes how the Clark Creek family is succeeding in that mission,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Our Title I schools serve our students with the greatest needs and challenges, which makes this achievement even more meaningful. I’m proud of the teachers, students, families and partners who made this success happen – congratulations and thank you!”

Principal Moss and her leadership team will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s March 15 meeting.

Two CCSD High School Groups Featured at National Choral Event This Week!

Category : CCSD

The Etowah High School Elite Women’s Choir

Two Cherokee County School District high school choral groups are featured at a national choral event this week!

William Hall

The Etowah High School Elite Women’s Choir, led by teacher and director William Hall, and the Sequoyah High School Sequoyah Singers Women, led by teacher and director Josh Markham, were selected to perform at the American Choral Directors Association’s Southern Region Conference in Louisville, Ky.

Only six high school choral groups were chosen through the challenging audition process that was open to applicants from 11 states; the event also features six college and university groups, three middle school groups and four other select groups.

Formed in 2011, the Etowah HS Elite Women’s Choir showcases the choral program’s top performers in Grades 10-12. The 2016 Southern Invitational Grand Champions group’s repertoire includes numerous advanced compositions, and the singers perform with college and professional choirs and musicians… even with the rock band Foreigner. Mr. Hall has taught music for 15 years and led choral groups for schools, colleges, churches and community and professional organizations.

Josh Markham

The Sequoyah Singers Women is the school’s most advanced choral ensemble featuring students selected for All-State Chorus and Reading Chorus and the Governor’s Honors Program in Voice. The group has earned superior ratings at evaluations, festivals, and state and national competitions and was selected to sing at the 2015 Georgia Music Educators Association Convention. Mr. Markham has led the school’s various choral groups to back-to-back State Championships, State Literary Meet runner-up finishes and featured performances at GMEA Conventions.


The Sequoyah Singers Women

CCSD Piloting Bus Tracking System for Parents at Three Schools

Category : CCSD

The Transportation Department began testing the Versatrans My Stop system earlier this school year with selected individual parents, and that pilot now is ready to expand on March 5 to three schools.

The Cherokee County School District is expanding its pilot of a new system that allows parents to track their child’s school bus on a smart phone or computer!

The Transportation Department began testing the Versatrans My Stop system earlier this school year with selected individual parents, and that pilot now is ready to expand on March 5 to three schools: Arnold Mill Elementary School, Johnston Elementary School and Mill Creek Middle School. The School District’s goal is to expand access to the system to all CCSD parents at the start of next school year.

“Providing real-time bus information to parents is an important service we have worked toward for the past two years,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower. “Knowing whether a bus is on schedule gives parents the option  of keeping their children indoors as long as possible on cold mornings and eliminates the worry that comes with not knowing where the bus is when it’s running late. We appreciate the work our Transportation Department and Office of School Operations has put into this project to better serve our students and families.”

Look for this Versatrans My Stop logo in your device’s app store to ensure you download the correct app.

My Stop offers parents the ability to track their child’s school bus through CCSD’s website or the Versatrans My Stop mobile app. The GPS-based system shows parents the location of their child’s bus on a map of its route for 15 minutes prior to its scheduled arrival at the bus stop both in the morning and in the afternoon. The system also alerts parents of how many minutes away the bus is from the stop, which provides an even more accurate report than the map image.

Schools will have access to an “arrival board” online, similar to screens at an airport, so staff there will have complete and accurate information about all buses. The My Stop system will improve efficiency by providing parents with the most timely information possible and by eliminating the need for school staff to prepare and send notifications if a bus is delayed.

Parents only will have access to the route for their child’s home address, and access to the system’s tracking information is limited to the 15-minute window before their child is scheduled to be picked up from the stop in the morning or dropped off at the stop in the afternoon. Access accounts only can be set up by parents who have their child’s student ID. Only parents with children at one of the three pilot schools will be able to access the system beginning March 5, and they only will be able to see information for their children’s routes at those schools.

Parents of children who attend the pilot schools will be provided with additional information and can contact the front office of their child’s school with any questions. More information will be shared with all parents prior to the start of next school year, so they will be able to use this new system.

Message from CCSD: Social Media Posts About SHS

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Category : CCSD

On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that we are aware of social media posts by “Ray Andres” threatening “SHS.”  CCSD School Police investigated these posts on Feb. 21, 2018 and learned they refer to a high school in Ohio.  These posts are being circulated nationwide and causing similar alarm in other communities.  We take threats to the safety and security of our schools very seriously.  We appreciate the parents who contacted police immediately and directly to report these posts.

CTAE: Students Can Start Certification & Careers in High School

Category : CCSD

February is National CTAE Awareness Month!

Note:  We are producing a video series this spring spotlighting a different Career Pathway at each of our six high schools.  In honor of National CTAE Awareness Month, watch our first video here, focusing on the Architectural and Engineering Design program at Etowah High School.  New videos will be released over the next few months.

While the Cherokee County School District is well known for its rigorous college-prep curriculum, our high schools also offer more than 20 different career certifications in technology, healthcare, video production, automotive, welding, and more!

“We’ve taken career education to the next level by continuously shaping our programs to align with local industry needs and national certification standards,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “These classes not only prepare students for the workforce or technical college, but also give hands-on skills to college-prep students that can benefit them in their careers and in life.”

While most CCSD graduates enroll in college or a technical school program within a few months of completing high school, about 25% of each graduating class enters the workforce directly after earning a high school diploma.

What many parents remember as “vocational classes” are aligned today under the state CTAE (Career Technical and Agricultural Education) program and are grouped by Career Pathways.  “Pathway Completers” are those students who earn three or more credit hours within a single Pathway, which can lead to certification and advanced job readiness.

CCSD’s CTAE program also leverages partnerships with local industry and workforce development entities, as well as Chattahoochee Technical College, to ensure students are ready to take their next step after high school.  CCSD students can earn recognized industry credentials, participate in work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities, and serve as leaders through programs like SkillsUSA, JROTC and industry-related clubs and competitions.

“We have students graduating with full-time welding jobs lined up,” Dr. Hightower said of one example of the CTAE program’s many successes, noting that the benefits extend to college-bound students as well.  “We also have students headed to nursing and pre-med programs as certified nursing assistants – knowledge that puts them ahead of their classmates and qualifies them for a great part-time job.”

Programs vary by school; the current list of Pathways can be found here:   For more information on Georgia’s CTAE program, see the DOE website at

Message from the Superintendent: School Safety

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Category : CCSD

Please see the Feb. 16, 2018 message below from Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower:

Dear Parents,

Like many of you, I have spent the past two days reflecting on the horror that occurred on the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School and praying for Parkland and our country.

Such a tragedy is the greatest fear not only of every parent, but also of every educator and every Superintendent of Schools.

While our School District long has been a leader in ensuring school safety and security, we continuously evaluate what more we can do to protect our children and our employees.

Following the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, we established the Superintendent’s Ad Hoc Safety and Security Committee.  This group, made up of CCSD police and school operations leaders, Principals, parents and our community’s sheriff and municipal police chiefs, visited every one of our schools to audit security measures and procedures and reviewed all of our District safety policies and protocols.

The recommendations from that group have led to important improvements made over the last five years, such as the addition of more POST-certified officers to our CCSD School Police Department; the redesign of school entrances, and installation of electronic front-door buzzer and camera systems and security foyers; and the introduction of the School Messenger notification system being used to send you this message.

Knowing the past effectiveness of this Committee, I’ve called upon CCSD School Police Chief Mark Kissel, who serves as chairman of the group, to hold a series of meetings beginning next month.  We’ve notified Committee members today of our need for their assistance, and we appreciate their service.

The focus of these meetings will be to assess current and emerging school safety initiatives, determine the programmatic, operational and fiscal impact of CCSD’s safety and security protocols and practices, and provide me with recommendations this spring prior to the presentation of my recommended Annual Budget to the School Board.  If you have any input you would like to share with the Committee, please email it to Chief Communications Officer Barbara P. Jacoby at

As you know, three educators lost their lives protecting the children of Stoneman Douglas High School.  Our School District’s team – from the teachers in the classroom to the leaders on our School Board – cares about your children as if they were their own.  That care is what makes Parkland so heart-breaking for us and why I’ve called upon this Committee to take action.

Dr. Brian V. Hightower
Superintendent of Schools

Board Briefs: School Board Begins Annual Leadership Hiring Process

The School Board on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, began its annual leadership hiring process with the approval of the Superintendent of Schools’ recommendations to fill two central administration vacancies.

With its approval of the Superintendent’s monthly personnel recommendations, the Board appointed Dr. Shannon Carroll as the new Supervisor for Instructional Technology and Rocky Simpson as the new Coordinator of Maintenance.  With these approvals, the Board next month can proceed with approving recommendations for Principal openings, and, in April, approve appointments for Assistant Principals and any other subsequently vacant leadership positions.

“Both of these appointments add more depth to our leadership strength,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said of Dr. Carroll and Simpson.  “Shannon, in her current role as a curriculum coordinator, has been a critical resource for STEM instruction, and we know she will expertly guide our use of classroom technology.  We’re so proud of Rocky, who’s a graduate of Cherokee High, for coming back to us after college to use his expertise to support our schools.”

Dr. Carroll joined CCSD in 1993 as a teacher and, after a classroom career that included twice earning her school’s Teacher of the Year title, moved into District leadership roles in curriculum and professional development.  Mr. Simpson joined CCSD in 2002 after earning his degree from Kennesaw State University.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Holly Springs ES STEM Academy as a Microsoft Showcase School;

• Recognized CCSD as the recipient of the National Employer Support of the Guard

and Reserve Patriotic Employer Award;

• Recognized Carmel ES teacher Merry Willis and Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lisa Lougheed as Global Minecraft Mentors;

• Recognized Woodstock HS economics teacher Josh Sailers as the 2018 Georgia Economics Teacher of the Year;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;

• Recognized the Woodstock ES FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics Team as first-place winners in Core Values for Team Work at the State finals and as Super Regionals champions;

• Recognized Sequoyah High School junior Hanna Palmer for being elected to the 2018-2019 Georgia DECA State Executive Officer Team;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions from the Etowah High School wrestling team;

• Approved a resolution recognizing March 1, 2018 as “PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District”;

• Adopted International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for students and educators;

• Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Aramark Management Services, Cherokee County Historical Society and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society;

• Approved month

ly financial reports;

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

• Approved special lease agreements; and,

• Met in Executive Session to discuss personnel, real estate and student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15, 2018

School Board Hires New Creekview HS Head Football Coach!

Category : CCSD

Adam Carter

The Cherokee County School Board has hired Adam Carter to serve as Creekview High School’s head football coach!

The School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to tap Coach Carter, who helped lead his previous team to the 6A Georgia State Championship title in 2016, to teach physical education and health classes and coach the Grizzlies effective March 1.

“Adam Carter is a highly motivated, intelligent coach. He fits the criteria required by all of our stakeholders,” said Principal Dr. Mark Merges, who plans to soon host a meet-and-greet event to introduce Coach Carter to the community. “Coach Carter brings a positive, family-oriented atmosphere to the Creekview football program, encouraging athletes, parents and the community to be involved.”

Coach Carter comes to Creekview from Valdosta High School where he served as the football team’s Defensive Coordinator, helping lead the team to its Region and State Championships titles in 2016, and also served as head track coach, bringing home a 6A Region 1 Championship win. His prior roles include defensive coordinator for the football programs at Marietta High School, Bradwell Institute in Hinesville, and Camden County High School, where he also led the track team to win Regions. He additionally coached football at Reinhardt University and South Carolina State University.

“Building a program of excellence, both on and off the field, will be the commitment of my team, my staff and myself,” said Coach Carter, who will be moving to Cherokee County with his wife, Molly. “We will use the game of football as an avenue to support the growth and development of quality, high-character young men who excel in the classroom, the field, and in life.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from the University of West Georgia and his master’s degree in health and kinesiology with an emphasis in coaching from Georgia Southern University.

“I have been blessed with opportunities in my career due to hard work, leadership and my knowledge of the game,” said Coach Carter, who is studying to earn his specialist degree in health and physical education from Jacksonville State University. “I plan to build a football program that takes pride in hard work, dedication, and commitment.”

Creekview HS Athletic Director Dr. Kevin Higgins said he’s eager to begin working with Coach Carter.

“I think Adam is the right fit for our community and our players,” he said. “The Creekview family is excited to welcome Coach Carter as a Creekview Grizzly.”


Congratulations to CCSD’s STAR Students and Teachers!

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Category : CCSD

Photos of Star students and teachers

Congratulations to this year’s Cherokee County School District STAR Students and Teachers!

The Canton and Woodstock Lions Clubs this week honored CCSD students and teachers at their annual STAR Student and Teacher Recognition Ceremony at the Cherokee Arts Center in downtown Canton. These honorees will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the March 15, 2018 School Board meeting.

The overall Cherokee County STAR Student is Sasha Stogniy from Woodstock High School, and her STAR Teacher is Kelly Burke.

The STAR, or Student Teacher Achievement Recognition, Student honor is awarded to the student from each Cherokee County public and private high school with the highest score on any single test date of the SAT (taken through the November test date of their senior year) and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. Each honored student is invited to select his or her favorite teacher to be named that school’s STAR Teacher.

High school STAR Students compete for system titles, and the overall Cherokee County STAR Student is Sasha Stogniy from Woodstock High School! Her STAR Teacher is Kelly Burke.

System STAR Students compete for region-wide honors in the 12 STAR Regions, and Region winners are invited to Atlanta to compete for the state PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) STAR scholarships and awards. STAR Teachers continue on with their STAR Students at every level of the program.

“We congratulate all of our STAR Students and Teachers on this admirable achievement!” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Thank you to the Lions Clubs and PAGE for celebrating these shining examples of excellence in education. We look forward to recognizing these stars next month with our School Board!”

Cherokee HS
STAR Student: Stephanie Bradley
STAR Teacher: Roy Lange

Creekview HS
STAR Student: Kristen Farmer and Will Touchstone
STAR Teacher: Jason Hardin and Tom Armstrong

Etowah HS
STAR Student: Sean Waldron
STAR Teacher: Brian Heglund

River Ridge HS
STAR Student: Simon Yang
STAR Teacher: Tracye Bulger

Sequoyah HS
STAR Student: Alyssa Cagle
STAR Teacher: Dr. Cathy Murphy

Woodstock HS
STAR Student: Sasha Stogniy
STAR Teacher: Kelly Burke