Woodstock HS Announces Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Woodstock HS Announces Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Category : CCSD

Woodstock High School today announced that Coach Josh Pierce will take over as head coach for its men’s basketball program!

Josh Pierce

Coach Pierce, who is in his sixth year teaching and has taught PE and coached at Woodstock HS for the past two years, began his basketball career 20 years ago as a First Team All-State player at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.  He played college basketball for Tennessee Temple and Cumberland University, where in his senior year he helped lead the team to its third-best season ever (22-9).  Coach Pierce also played football his final season at Cumberland.

After teaching and coaching at Spring Hill High School in Columbia, Tenn., Coach Pierce joined the Woodstock HS staff, and his coaching roles have included assistant basketball coach, assistant football coach, and strength and conditioning coordinator.

“My goal is to continue the success that our basketball program has developed in the past three years under Mr. Kingston Clark, both on and off the court,” Coach Pierce said, adding he is grateful to the school’s leadership and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower for the opportunity.  “There has been an exciting buzz surrounding Woodstock Basketball as of late, and I intend to continue that with the support of great administration, coaching staff, and parents and supporters.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.  We are Woodstock!”

Woodstock HS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Chris Bennett said the school is excited about Coach Pierce leading the program, which is in 7A competition, Georgia’s largest classification.

“He brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and a great enthusiasm for the game, our student athletes and for Woodstock High School. He has been an integral part of the success here in multiple programs, and we look forward to what he brings as the new head coach of our men’s basketball program,” Mr. Bennett said.  “I believe our student athletes will respond to his energy and enthusiasm.  He has a lot to offer our program.”


Superintendent of Schools Presents 2018 Game Changer Award to Woodstock HS Teacher!

The crowd of colleagues rises to applaud Ms. Burke as she makes her way to the front of the auditorium.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has surprised the third 2018 winner of his annual awards for instructional excellence!

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower honors Woodstock High School teacher Kelly Burke with a 2018 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence.

Dr. Hightower presented a “Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award” for Instructional Excellence to Woodstock High School Advanced Placement (AP) Physics teacher Kelly Burke during the school’s faculty meeting, which erupted in cheers and a standing ovation for the longtime and celebrated educator.

“You know her career, you know her history and how much she truly cares about her job and the kids,” Dr. Hightower said of Ms. Burke, who among her many honors, is a past Cherokee County School District Teacher of the Year and Top 10 Finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year and the current Cherokee County STAR Teacher.  “It takes a lot of commitment, dedication and smarts to do what Kelly does.”

The Instructional Excellence honor, which is awarded to a classroom teacher, is one of the four categories of the “Game Changer Awards” that Dr. Hightower began last school year presenting annually in the spring and which he describes as CCSD’s “premier awards.”

Ms. Burke, who is retiring at the end of May, shares her thoughts about her career teaching science at Woodstock HS.

The other categories are: Instructional Leadership, which recognizes a Principal or CCSD administrator and was presented last week to Avery ES Principal Dr. Lisa Turner; Instructional Advocacy, which recognizes an employee or community member and was presented last week to School Board Chair Kyla Cromer; and Instructional Support, which recognizes an employee with a support role and is still to be presented.

Ms. Burke, who is retiring at the end of the this school year, thanked her Woodstock High colleagues for their many years of support; she has taught at the school since it opened in 1996.

“It’s overwhelming!” she said of the surprise honor, which some of her family was brought in to witness.  “We have so many outstanding educators, K-12, in our system!  How do you choose just one for this?  I am deeply honored… it’s an indescribable feeling.”


Dr. Hightower describes some of the qualities Ms. Burke exhibits as a leader in classroom instruction.

Ms. Burke’s husband, David, and daughter, Katie, were in on the surprise award; Katie captured the moment on FaceTime so her brother, Adam, could watch their mother be honored by the Superintendent of Schools.

CCSD Celebrates Partners of the Year, Volunteers of the Year at Fifth Annual Recognition Ceremony

CCSD Celebrates Partners of the Year, Volunteers of the Year at Fifth Annual Recognition Ceremony

Mary Helen Lamb and other members of Waleska United Methodist Church make their way to the front of the auditorium when the church was announced as the Cherokee County School District 2018 Partner of the Year. The Church was nominated by partner, R.M. Moore Elementary School.

The Cherokee County School District honored its top school community partners and volunteers at the Fifth Annual CCSD Partner of the Year and Volunteer of the Year Recognition Ceremony.

The ceremony, held on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at CCSD’s Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, recognized a Partner of the Year and a Volunteer of the Year for each individual school and center and then made the surprise announcement of the CCSD Partner of the Year and Volunteer of the Year selected from that pool of candidates. Eighty-two outstanding partners and volunteers were recognized!

Waleska United Methodist Church, the R.M. Moore Elementary School Partner of the Year, was named the CCSD 2018 Partner of the Year, and Lawrence Moraniec, the Woodstock High School Volunteer of the Year, was named the CCSD 2018 Volunteer of the Year.

“It’s very inspiring to hear the stories of these outstanding partners and volunteers and such an honor to recognize them. We greatly appreciate everything they do to support our students, teachers and schools,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower said. “They donate thousands of hours of their time, give thousands out of their own pockets and bottom lines, and improve the lives of thousands of students and teachers — all because they care.”

Tuesday’s recognition ceremony was sponsored by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds and awareness for CCSD. Prior to the ceremony, which included tributes and the presentation of plaques by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board to all honorees, a reception was held in the auditorium lobby. The honorees were joined at the event by their families, Principals of the schools that they support and other special guests.

After the surprise announcements were made of the CCSD Partner of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, excerpts were read from the nomination letters submitted by the principals of the schools that they support. A committee of retired educators selects the CCSD winners from the pool of exemplary nominees.

The Cherokee County School District 2018 Partner of the Year is Waleska United Methodist Church for its partnership with R.M. Moore Elementary School. From left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, church members Richard Belote, Mary Helen Lamb, Edythe Miller, Cecil Miller, and Principal Jan Adamson.

The CCSD Partner of the Year, Waleska United Methodist Church, already adopted students in need at the holidays, but this school year added establishing and stocking a new food pantry at the school and running a weekend back-pack food program to its charitable work.

“They have served our school and students in this community to the fullest potential. The thing that makes them a standout is they expect no recognition in return,” Principal Jan Adamson said. “They do it all because they truly care for our students and making a better future for our community. Their willingness to be flexible and the eagerness to volunteer their time and assistance make them an extraordinary partner. Our school, students and faculty are very thankful to have such a wonderful Partner of the Year.”

The Cherokee County School District 2018 Volunteer of the Year is Lawrence Moraniec, who was nominated for the honor by Woodstock High School. From left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Woodstock HS engineering teacher Karen Zayance, Lawrence Moraniec and Principal Mark Smith.

The CCSD Volunteer of the Year, Lawrence Moraniec, for 10 years has shared his industry knowledge with Woodstock High School students to build their career readiness and their confidence. Through the Technology Student Association, the retired General Motors employee teaches students not only how to use machinery and equipment, but also soft skills needed for the workplace.

“He drives the students to succeed – not to win – but to strive to be better individuals,” Principal Mark Smith said. “Through an encouraging demeanor, Mr. Moraniec pushes students to learn more, be leaders, create quality products, practice good teaming, and to support their peers both when they win, and more importantly, when they don’t. He teaches students the value of failure, learning from failure and then rising above it. He has selflessly invested in our students for 10 years – what is more extraordinary that this?”

Every week, a different school Partner of the Year and Volunteer of the Year will be featured on CCSD social media platforms.

Lawrence Moraniec shakes hands with Cherokee County Educational Foundation Board member Sharon Booz on the way to the front of the auditorium to accept his award as Cherokee County School District 2018 Volunteer of the Year.


Arnold Mill Elementary School: Walmart of Woodstock
Avery Elementary School: Culver’s at Hickory Flat
Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy: Awnex, Inc.
Bascomb Elementary School: Chick-fil-A of Towne Lake
Boston Elementary School: New Victoria Baptist Church
Canton Elementary School STEM Academy: Rotary Club of Canton
Carmel Elementary School: The Premier Group Real Estate Firm
Cherokee High School: Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton
Johnston Preschool Center: The Home Depot on Sixes Road
Oak Grove Preschool Center: Soleil Charity Committee
Ralph Bunche Center: Laurel Canyon Optimist Club
Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy: Modern Woodmen of America
Clayton Elementary School: Help A Child Ministry
Creekland Middle School: Cherokee Insurance Center
Creekview High School: Chick-fil-A of Canton
Dean Rusk Middle School: Reliable Heating and Air
E.T. Booth Middle School: The Premier Group Real Estate Firm
Etowah High School: LongHorn Steakhouse of Woodstock
Free Home Elementary School: Jan Rooney, State Farm Agent
Freedom Middle School: Morrison Products, Inc.
Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Canton Police Department
Hickory Flat Elementary School: The Marketplace Canton
Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy: Corporate Office Furniture & Panels, Inc.
Indian Knoll Elementary School: MUST Ministries
Johnston Elementary School: Modern Woodmen of America
Knox Elementary School: Kona Ice of Cherokee
Tippens Education Center: Laurel Canyon Optimist Club
Liberty Elementary School: Publix at The Market at BridgeMill
Little River Elementary School: Hot Wheels Skating Center
Macedonia Elementary School: Smallcakes Cupcakery
Mill Creek Middle School: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt at Riverstone Plaza
Mountain Road Elementary School: Culver’s at Hickory Flat
Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Modern Woodmen of America
R.M. Moore Elementary School: Waleska United Methodist Church
River Ridge High School: Chick-fil-A Dwarf House of Woodstock
Sequoyah High School: Creative Awards and Promotions
Sixes Elementary School: Hopewell Baptist Church
Teasley Middle School: Shoal Creek Baptist Church and Shiloh Hills Baptist Church
Woodstock Elementary School: Woodstock Fire Department
Woodstock High School: Roytec Industries, LLC
Woodstock Middle School: Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Towne Lake

Read more here about the 2018 School winners!


Arnold Mill Elementary School: Rhonda Methvin
Avery Elementary School: Janna Miller-Sanders
Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy: Lindsay Prose
Bascomb Elementary School: Janis Dunn
Boston Elementary School: Betsy Richardson
Canton Elementary School STEM Academy: Pat and Les Olsen
Carmel Elementary School: Stacey Stockton
Cherokee High School: Neda Chester
Johnston Preschool Center: River Ridge High School TOME Club
Oak Grove Preschool Center: CCSD Transition Academy
Ralph Bunche Center: Teasley Middle School
Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy: Suzanne Everette
Clayton Elementary School: Sid and Diane Phillips
Creekland Middle School: Leanne Schulman
Creekview High School: Bob Johnson
Dean Rusk Middle School: Maureen Walker
E.T. Booth Middle School: Jenni Burris
Etowah High School: Pam Greiner
Free Home Elementary School: Georgine Lightsey
Freedom Middle School: Dustin Ade
Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Kristi Louzader
Hickory Flat Elementary School: Beth Harper
Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy: Kay Williams
Indian Knoll Elementary School: Jenn Severson
Johnston Elementary School: Gail Hendrix
Knox Elementary School: Alex Apolinaris
Tippens Education Center: Woodstock High School PTSA
Liberty Elementary School: Daniela McBride
Little River Elementary School: Amanda Johnson
Macedonia Elementary School: Amy Murphy
Mill Creek Middle School: Amy Swetlik
Mountain Road Elementary School: Colleen Thomas
Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Maria Benitez
R.M. Moore Elementary School: Carla Cohen
River Ridge High School: Olga Spivey
Sequoyah High School: Lisa Shellenbarger
Sixes Elementary School: Sixes Elementary School PTA Executive Board
Teasley Middle School: Danielle Sones
Woodstock Elementary School: Jennifer Maude
Woodstock High School: Lawrence Moraniec
Woodstock Middle School: Pamela and Rodney Allen

Read more here about the 2018 School winners!

STEM Certified: State Superintendent Presents Woodstock HS Official STEM Banner

Category : CCSD

State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Woodstock High School this week to present the school’s official State STEM Certification banner, recognizing it as the 12th high school in all of Georgia to earn the prestigious honor. 

Woodstock HS is Cherokee County School District’s first high school to earn State STEM Certification, and joins Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy on the elite list of 59 approved schools statewide.

“We are so proud of their success in this endeavor,” Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, noting teachers, leaders, students, parents and partners all played an important role.  “We look forward to seeing more of out students become scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, researchers, programmers… or any of the many other careers STEM knowledge offers them the opportunity to pursue.”

WHS Principal Mark Smith, left, holds the banner presented by State School Superintendent Richard Woods.

The path to State STEM certification is a complex, multi-year process requiring strong evidence of meeting and exceeding standards in areas such as math and science instruction, technology integration, teacher collaboration, STEM competitions, and business partnerships.  Woodstock HS officially earned the designation in November following a State STEM team visit.

The school held a brief program in the media center on Wednesday, Feb. 28 for the banner presentation and remarks from Superintendent Woods, as well as CCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower and Woodstock HS Principal Mark Smith.  School Board Chair Kyla Cromer was in attendance, along with School Board Members Clark Menard and Kelly Poole, State School Board Member Scott Johnson and an audience of about 120 students and STEM teachers.

CCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower, School Board members Clark Menard and Kelly Poole; State School Superintendent Richard Woods; School Board Chair Kyla Cromer; Woodstock HS Principal Mark Smith, and State School Board Member Scott Johnson pose with the school’s STEM banner.

Dr. Hightower commended Principal Smith and his team of administrators and teachers for their commitment to the arduous STEM process.  “This is validation of a lot of hard work that is ultimately for the kids,” he said.

Superintendent Woods acknowledged the efforts of the School District in making STEM a priority.

WHS STEM teachers Loretta Muise and Kelly Burke, along with CCSD Math and Science Curriculum Coordinator Shannon Carroll, listen to State Superintendent Richard Woods as he talks about the rigorous STEM certification process.

“This does not happen without leadership support.  That’s clear,” he said, and then turned his attention to the Woodstock HS administrators and teachers, “And without your buy in, I honestly say this does not happen at all.

“A lot of people don’t understand, this certification does not come easy.  There’s a lot of work involved in it and a lot of commitment, and there has to be a lot of collaboration,” Woods said.  “You young people – you are the exception to the rule.  It is my charge to you to say that your journey has just begun here at Woodstock HS.  This is an opportunity.”

Woodstock HS STEM teachers w banner: Dr. Brian Hightower; Deb Hipp; Bonnie Sinclair; Julie Moeller; State Superintendent Richard Woods; Kelly Burke; Loretta Muise; Henry Oglesby; Anna Grantham; Principal Mark Smith and Assistant Principal Todd Sharrock.

Principal Smith thanked his teachers and administrators, especially Assistant Principal Todd Sharrock, and spoke of the importance of STEM in career readiness.

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Those four words drive our nation’s innovations and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries,” Principal Smith said.  “STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17% into 2018, compared to 9.8 % growth of non-STEM jobs. Three out of five jobs in the future will be STEM-related.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  Teachers, you dreamed this several years ago; thank you for all your hard work,” Smith continued.  “Students, words cannot describe how proud I am to be your principal.  Each one of you in this room have taken on a challenge that is incredibly rigorous and rewarding.  You have made a commitment to step outside the normal high school box and pursue classes with a STEM focus.  You have clearly left your mark on Woodstock HS.  Your legacy is forever imprinted on the fabric of Wolverine nation.”

A complete list of STEM certified schools can be found at http://stem.wpgadoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Georgia-STEM-STEAM-Certified-Schools.pdf


CCSD Senior Earns Perfect ACT Score!

Category : CCSD

Katherine Relick

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

Woodstock High School senior Katherine Relick earned the top composite score of 36 on the college entrance and placement test.

On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earns the top score. Only 2,760 out of the more than 2 million students who took the exam in 2017 earned a score of 36.

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, Katherine is her school’s Student Delegate to the School Board and Vice President of Student Government and a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Women in Science & Engineering, Science National Honors Society, Math National Honors Society and Giving Children Hope Club, for which she serves as President.

A Superintendent’s Key Scholar, Katherine has earned the University of Georgia Merit Award, was selected for and completed the Teen Leadership Cherokee program and volunteers as an Anna Crawford Children’s Center Student Advisor and for SPLASH (a volunteer group that teaches children with special needs to swim), Cherokee Family Violence Center and as a Sunday school teacher for her church.

Katherine will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board Meeting on October 19, 2017.


Woodstock HS Names Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Category : CCSD

Coach Jared Hughes

The Woodstock High School Women’s Basketball program has named Jared Hughes as its next head coach!

Coach Hughes, who was approved by the School Board this spring as a new health and PE teacher at Woodstock High, is head coach for Lady Wolves of Rome High School, where he has proven himself as one of the best young coaches in the state.

“We are excited for Coach Hughes to join the Wolverine Staff,” Woodstock HS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Tonya Sebring said. “I believe our student athletes will positively respond to his energy and enthusiasm. He has a lot to offer our program.”

In 2015, his first season as Rome High’s head coach, he led the Lady Wolves to the State playoffs, followed by a second season of 18 wins despite numerous players being out due to injury.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Coach Hughes began his teaching and coaching career at Rome High, and served as varsity assistant coach from 2011-2015. Coaching alongside Head Coach Kevin Strickland, Coach Hughes helped guide the Lady Wolves to the deepest playoff run in school history by reaching the Elite 8.

Coach Hughes said he was intrigued by the chance to coach in Class 7A, the highest classification in the Georgia High School Association, and to lead a program that is a consistent region contender and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2016.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the tradition here at Woodstock High School,” said Coach Hughes, who is married to wife, Lauren. “I have the opportunity to further an already outstanding program. I look forward to introducing my style here at Woodstock, and most importantly, forming positive relationships with our student athletes”

Woodstock HS Names New Head Softball Coach

Category : CCSD

A new head softball coach is headed to Woodstock High School!

Alex Gray, recently approved by the Cherokee County School Board as a new physical education teacher at Woodstock HS, will take over as head softball coach for the 2017-18 school year. Coach Gray brings 11 years of experience to the 7A Lady Wolverine program, including several State playoff appearances.

Alex Gray

Alex Gray

“We are excited to welcome Coach Gray aboard,” Woodstock High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Tonya Sebring said. “His coaching experiences and competitive nature make him a great asset to our athletic program. I look forward to him challenging our athletes and working with our team toward the goal of hanging additional championship banners for the Wolverine Nation.”

Coach Gray graduated from Valdosta State University, where he played on the school’s baseball team. Upon completion of his baseball career, he entered into coaching, serving as an assistant with the Valdosta State University Women’s Fast-Pitch program in 2002. He left to pursue a career in the corporate sector, but quickly realized coaching was his true passion.

While working to acquire his teaching certification, Coach Gray served as a community coach in the Valdosta area. He landed his first head-coaching job at Richmond Hill High School in 2008, where his team finished with a record of 15-13 and qualified for State playoffs. From there, he transitioned to the well-respected program at Lowndes High School.

With an overall coaching record of 67-34, he took his team to the Elite 8, won back-to-back region Championships (2010, 2011), was a two-time Region Coach of the Year and signed nine players to college scholarships. In 2012, his peers selected him as the Head Coach of the South All-star Team in Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Summer Softball Showcase.

In 2012, Coach Gray accepted the position of Assistant Softball Coach for the University of Connecticut for two years, followed by a year on staff at Ball State University. Although he considered the opportunity to coach at the Division 1 level an honor and a great experience, Coach Gray decided to return home to Georgia to settle down and start a family. Last year, he served as the Head Softball Coach at Oglethorpe County High School, where he led the Lady Patriots to the Sweet 16 for the first time in the school’s history.

Woodstock HS Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Semi-Finalist!

A.J. Cox

A.J. Cox

A Woodstock High School senior has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program semi-finalist!

A.J. Cox is one of only 700 students nationwide to qualify for the final round of the national competition. These semi-finalists are considered to be among the best and brightest of the 3.5 million graduating seniors in the nation’s Class of 2017

Semi-finalists are chosen based on academic achievement including outstanding performance on the ACT or SAT, personal character, leadership and service activities; application is by invitation only. Only 161 students will be honored as finalists at a White House ceremony.

The Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to honor and recognize extraordinary graduating seniors.

“The achievements of these outstanding students deserve acknowledgement,” said Marina C. McCarthy, Chair of the Commission on Presidential Scholars. “The most precious resource of the United States is its talented young people.”

A.J. is an exemplary student, and earlier this year also was named a 2017 National Merit Scholarship finalist… one of the most prestigious recognitions for graduating high school seniors! His outstanding performance on the SAT earned him the title of Woodstock High School’s STAR Student through the statewide recognition program, and A.J. recently was named a regional finalist in the national Coca-Cola Scholars competition.

In addition to academic success, A.J. also has earned titles for his talents as a public speaker, academic bowl team member and competitive swimmer including his recent triumph as the 7A State Champion in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking. He’s active in his school and community and is a promising young leader, noted by his selection to serve as a sophomore on the Model Atlanta Regional Commission.