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News to Know for the Week of March 1, 2021
Save the Date
- March is Music in our Schools Month (MIOSM). The National Association for MIOSM has officially designated the month for more than 30 years. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children. Some of the planned celebrations across the district include special lessons in elementary music classes, performances by middle and high school ensembles for Large Group Performance Evaluation, and a video release from FCS' Music Therapy department to coincide with Exceptional Children's Week.
March is also Youth Art Month. This year's theme is "Art Connects Us." The Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) created Children's Art Month in 1961 to emphasize the value to children from participating in visual art education. In 1969 the celebration expanded to include secondary school students, and the Children's Art Month event officially became known as Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month exists to recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curriculum that develops a global society.
Students across the district will engage in various projects, celebrations, events, and competitions.
- Fulton County Schools will celebrate National School Breakfast Week during March 8-11, 2021.
The National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) theme, "Score Big with School Breakfast," reminds parents and other stakeholders that a healthy school breakfast helps ensure students' academic success in school so they can "score big" and reach their goals. School nutrition professionals and students will participate in the special week from March 8-11. The district will celebrate with a special Breakfast for Lunch menu, spirit days, celebrity servers, and free samples of locally grown grapefruit during "Try It Tuesday."
"A healthy school breakfast at the start of the day is a great way to ensure students get the best education they can," said Alyssia Wright, Executive Director of the district's School Nutrition Program. "National School Breakfast Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy, great-tasting, and appealing choices we offer."
The district serves over 20,000 breakfast meals daily through the federally funded School Breakfast Program. School nutrition professionals in Fulton County prepare breakfast and lunches daily that meet federal nutrition standards – limiting fat, calories, and sodium – while encouraging students to choose from the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offered with school meals.
Awards and Honors
- Students from Tri-Cities High and Cambridge High theater departments took high honors at the Georgia High School Association State One Act Play competitions. Cambridge placed second for their performance of "The Diary of Anne Frank" for Region 7A, and Tri-Cities took third in 5A for their production, "Too Heavy for your Pocket." Theater Directors Corey Kelley of Cambridge and Jade Lambert of Tri-Cities oversaw the productions.
Best Actor Awards also went to each school: Carys Feldman for her portrayal in the leading role of Anne Frank and Nicholas Wilkinson for his role as principal Tony Carter. Additionally, Tri-Cities students Ja'Nieyah Avila, Raymond Seay, and Jordyn Spencer each were named All-Star Cast Award winners for their supporting roles.
One Act Play is designed for student actors and crew to present a play including set-up and breakdown within one hour.
- The 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Competition rewarded 173 FCS students with top honors. The competition is the nation's longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. Out of the 173, 39 students received the Gold Key Award, 61 students received Silver Key Award, and 73 students were given Honorable Mentions. FCS had the largest middle school representation in the state to receive awards, and one middle school student received a Gold Key. National winners will be announced in March. Click here for a complete list of FCS winners.
- Three Milton High students have won awards in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. The contest recognizes and empowers the most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are developing ideas that could solve society's most urgent challenges. Divya Nori, Priya Soneji, and Vishaal Ram were named Regeneron Scholars. The other 300 winners were awarded $2,000 personally, and $2,000 for their school.
Divya's project, entitled "Hero," is an automated detection system for prescription stimulant overdose via AI-based interference in real-time to reduce fatality rates typically occurring between overdose and intervention. Divya's work has been published in several professional journals across the nation.
Priya's project is a custom digital microscope. It allows researchers to track organisms too small to view accurately with a regular microscope for long periods while observing behavior and trajectory.
Vishaal's project was an adaptation of an existing mathematical design for an epidemiological model that predicts patterns in the spread of COVID-19, allowing researchers to establish how age brackets are affected and inform public health recommendations.
- Finalists were selected from 1,760 highly qualified entrants from 611 high schools across 45 states based on their projects' scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders. Each completed an original research project and extensive application process. The top 10 Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021 winners will be announced during a live-streamed virtual awards ceremony on March 17. Click here for more information.
- Hopewell Middle STEAM/science enrichment teacher, Steve Jones, has been selected to serve on the NASA eClipsTM Educator Advisory Board. The Board is a nationwide group of educators responsible for reviewing and making suggestions for improvements to the curriculum and current needs. He was selected from over 160 highly qualified educators from across the nation who applied for 20 positions. eClips is part of NASA's national education wing, overseen by the National Institute of Aerospace Center for Integrative STEM Education in Hampson, VA. The organization provides resources for K-12 classrooms and an understanding of NASA science to the public. Jones has been recognized for his dedication to ensure the quality of STEM resources for teachers and students.
Jones's seventh-grade classes are currently working on the Grow Beyond Earth experiment. The experiment is a collaboration with NASA-Kennedy Space Center and the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami. Together, they are growing Extra Dwarf Bok Choy in a special NASA-provided unit that replicates the Veggie system onboard the International Space Station. They will submit data to NASA Veggie program scientist Dr. Gioia Massa at the Kennedy Space Center to use as they plan new light protocols for growth in space.
- Renaissance Middle has been recognized as a Certified AVID School. AVID, stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and is an organization that helps prepare students for college. "To be recognized as an AVID Certified School is truly a testament to the hard work and achievement of our AVID administrators, teachers, and scholars," said Principal Creseda Hawk. "It has been an honor to watch our AVID coordinator, Thelesia Barksdale, spark and fuel the passion of our scholars through various opportunities. Exposing them to college, engaging in conversations with powerful leaders of our community, and learning life skills to become the best student they can be."
- Alpharetta High's Director of Choral Activities, Michelle Levesque, received a state-level Volunteer of the Year award from the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA). The GMEA president presented the award in January during the virtual general session of the organization's In-Service Conference. This honor recognizes GMEA members who have gone above and beyond in their volunteer work for the association. Levesque has served as GMEA All-State Reading Chorus organizer from 2015 to the present, All-State Chorus Region 3 organizer from 2017 to the present, and as District V Honor Chorus organizer in 2016.
In addition to teaching choral activities, Levesque also teaches AP Music Theory, Music Theatre, guitar and directs Alpharetta's competitive a cappella groups, Momentum, and Hype. Levesque has performed with Coro Vocati, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the more exclusive Chamber Chorus.
- Charles Laux, Alpharetta High's orchestra director, was named Educator of the Year by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), Georgia chapter. Founded in 1946, the ASTA serves to support string and orchestra teachers and players. The Georgia chapter offers professional workshops, master classes, and social events.
Laux has taught at Alpharetta for five years, covering five levels of orchestra and team-teaches the International Baccalaureate music class. He has also taught Audio Video Technology and Film and serves as AHS' webmaster and member of the FCS Vanguard (technology) team. Before the pandemic, he would send many students to GMEA All-State orchestras. Notably, the AHS Symphony Strings performed at the prestigious Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago in December 2018 under Laux' direction.
Laux has been a member of ASTA since 1993. He has attended and presented at almost every annual national conference, served as state chapter president in Nevada and Florida, and recently completed a two-year term as chair of the national K-12 committee. He currently serves as webmaster and secretary for the Georgia chapter.
Cool Kids (and Teachers) Doing Cool Things
- Woodland Middle partnered with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to provide immunizations for its scholars. The mobile clinic served parents and the community and provided an opportunity for student athletes to get a physical on campus.
- Students from the Riverwood cluster schools: Heards Ferry, High Point Elementary, Ridgeview Charter Middle,and Riverwood High, who volunteered at the Solidarity Food Pantry in Sandy Springs have formed a new service club called the Junior Craft Club of Solidarity Pantry. Solidarity began in the spring of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Sandy Springs businesses to close and food insecurity to rise. Many FCS students and parents joined forces to support the pantry. As the year progressed and the holidays approached, a few young volunteers paid it forward with gifts to the families of the pantry. The Donohue family: Riverwood freshman Kristina, her brother Frederik, a Ridgeview eighth- grader, and their mother Caroline, started the club working several weekday afternoons making crafty ornaments to show appreciation to frontline workers. Kristina and Frederik emailed friends and family soliciting donations to fund craft and pantry supplies, and then distributed ornaments to firefighters and other frontline workers.
In January, the club launched a Valentine's Day-themed project called Hearts of Sandy Springs producing baskets of chocolate for essential workers with whom they were even more familiar, Sandy Springs teachers. Knowing educators have shouldered the heavy burden of extra work, they felt teachers needed an emotional boost. One Saturday in February, the club presented Riverwood cluster principals with large boxes of tasty gifts to take back to their staff.
Future club plans include creating spring baskets for frontline medical staff at Children's Hospital of Atlanta and they are exploring tutoring fellow students. It has been an inclusive collaboration of young people from various socio-economic backgrounds working together to help during unstable times.
- Northwood Elementary third through fifth graders had a special VIP guest to close February's Black History Month studies. Alveda King, niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., joined the classes virtually for a discussion. King is the oldest child of Rev. King's brother, the late A.D. King. She's a former representative of the 28th District in the Georgia House of Representatives and an author and activist in her own right.
The online session was facilitated by Northwood Media and Educational Technology Instructor (METI) Allison Bauer. Bauer read student-submitted questions and King's appearance was shared on Epson interactive white boards in the classrooms. King shared stories about her uncle's life, what it was like to live through the Civil Rights era, marching in historical events, and being raised in the culture of nonviolence of the King legacy. She encouraged students to see themselves as leaders, not just in the future but now. She shared numerous notable quotes of MLK, especially some of his most famous: "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools," and "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." King closed with a charge to the students to continue to be an inspiration to their generation.
- North Springs Charter High (NSCHS) dance students had a special guest teach an online workshop: Constance Stamatiou, a company member of the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. From her home in New York City, she spoke about her journey through dance, taught original Ailey choreography from his famous piece "Revelations," and engaged in a Q&A. Students tuned in via Microsoft Teams from both the school dance studio and, for those learning remotely, from their homes.
Teachers Denise Kent and Monica Noble (the latter who met Stamatiou while both worked on the set of the film "Bolden," released in 2019) reported how positive the experience was considering a live, applied art like dance is difficult to study remotely. Noble said of Stamatiou, "She was so sweet and kind, and in between takes, I'd love to watch her do Ailey choreography. When I reached out to her about being a virtual guest at North Springs, she was so excited to share with our dancers."
Students appreciated learning her story of becoming a dancer and being trained as a stunt person. They also enjoyed learning new professional choreography to expand their repertoire of movement.
In Case You Missed It
- Oakley Elementary wrapped up Black History Month with a Bottle Gallery Hall of Fame. Fourth Grade scholars used recycled bottles to create replicas of famous African Americans.
The event also was part of Oakley's Science Technology Engineering Art Math (STEAM) program. Students filled the gallery with legends, from artist John Basquiat to civil rights icon John Lewis. "We incorporated several ELA (English Language Arts) standards in the exhibit," said Elementary Teacher, Dr. Kenya Greer. "Some standards included summarizing text, speaking and presenting, writing with graphic organizers, and sequencing of events."
Students used water and soda bottles to create their replicas. "We directed students to use things around the house to dress their bottles," said Dr. Greer. "Recycling was the key. The hair on the head of artist Jean Basquiat was made from wood chips."
Megan Miller, Oakley Elementary math instructor, assisted. "She helped get students to organize their projects and with outreach to parents," said Greer. Principal Estella Cook was one of the Black History legends featured in the gallery. "We were happy to have Zone Superintendent Dr. Tamara Candis and Board Member Franchesca Warren view the exhibit," said Cook.
Oakley ES Bottle Exhibit: Students & Teachers
- Fulton County Schools is celebrating its Sesquicentennial Anniversary this year. Created in February 1871, our district is now 150 years, old and the Teaching Museums and the Communications Department are partnering to create awareness of this milestone. During a year-long campaign, we will unveil 12 videos in a series called "Celebrating the Journey," the first of which debuted at the Feb. 9 school board work session. Each episode will chronicle Fulton County Schools over the past 150 years. You can view the first episode here, and visit the special Sesquicentennial section that has been added to the Teaching Museum's website. You can access information on the Sesquicentennial, the special videos, and other educational pieces on this page. The videos will be shared broadly each month with FCS employees, parents, and the community at large. We invite you to watch the district's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for Sesquicentennial topics each month and repost/tag us at #FCSjourney150.