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News to Know for Week of October 19 , 2020

News to Know


Save the Date

  • October is National Principals Month. The month is observed each year as an opportunity to recognize principals for their hard  work and dedication. It is sponsored by the American Association of Elementary School Principals, American Federation of School Administrators, and National Association of Secondary School Principals. For more information visit


  • National School Bus Safety Week is October 19 – 23.  Designed to promote school bus safety, National School Bus Safety Week is a way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and others - to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety. The theme for 2020 is “Red Lights Mean STOP!” The event is sponsored by the National Association for Pupil Transportation. For more information visit


  • Fulton County Schools announces the opening of Innovation Academy in the fall of 2021, a STEM magnet high school for students interested in STEM-related fields, for rising 9th and 10th graders. Students will focus on project-based learning experiences that will help them become critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers. Applications opened on Thursday, October 15 and will close on December 15.  For more information, please visit the FCS website at


  • The Cambridge High theater students will present "Occurrence at Sleepy Hollow," a live immersion experience Saturday, October 24, from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. The performance, which revisits Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman story, will take the form of guided walking tours. For more information, visit 


  • Now in Phase 5 of face-to-face instruction, the Fulton County School Nutrition Department’s Food Service Drive-Thru program of Grab & Go meal kits continues solely with the curbside distribution at the 93 designated school sites on Wednesdays. Provision of food remains FREE for all children 18 and under regardless of school enrollment or meal eligibility status. To accommodate lunch service for face-to-face students, the curbside pick-up times for elementary school locations are now 8:30-9:30 a.m., and times for middle and high school locations are 9:30-10:30 a.m. Children do not have to be present to receive a free Grab & Go meal kit, and student ID numbers are not needed. To see an updated list of school distribution sites, visit The mobile meal delivery program that delivered meal kits to bus stops has ended.

    To get a meal kit at the Wednesday Grab & Go sites, families must order online by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. Non-FCS students must also complete the pre-order form to help with order forecasting. 

    Students attending school face-to-face will receive free meals during their school’s scheduled mealtimes. For more information, visit


Cool Kids Doing Cool Things

  • Westlake High's Aniyah Sparks has been named to the State Superintendent's Student Advisory Council. State School Superintendent Richard Woods selected 64 Georgia students to serve on his 2020-21 Student Advisory Council. Throughout the school year, these middle and high school students will meet with Superintendent Woods to discuss the impact of state policies on the classroom. For a list of selected students, visit


  • Evoline C. West Elementary's Gabriael and Kathryn Benson were part of a Georgia Department of Education panel on STEM and STEAM practices.  The two students joined students virtually from across the state on October 13 to share their STEM experiences.

    STEM Panel


  • Riverwood International Charter received some new buzzing guests this month to install three experimental beehives in the Riverwood Outdoor Classroom and Garden. School faculty and students are trying to better understand bees amidst recent declines in native bee and honeybee populations. Riverwood Science Department Chair Patti Lawrimore and Assistant Principal Tim Doherty utilized a STEAM grant from the Sandy Springs Education Force to install the beehives on campus for the year-round study.

    Doherty, a veteran and a beekeeper and graduate of UGA's Beekeeping Institute, delivered the bees and provided the three hives. He founded a non-profit organization in 2017, Doc's Healing Hives that introduces veterans to the therapeutic power of beekeeping. 

    Riverwood's Environmental Science classes will study the bees and the differences between plastic and wooden hives to determine which is best for their new campus residents. Students will observe the colony's health by measuring mite and brood counts and examining how the bees maintain temperature and moisture conditions inside their hives. Plans are also in place for students to plant beds in the Riverwood Garden to determine the bees preferred plants and how biodiversity impacts the pollinators' population. This study is an extension of the University of Georgia's Bee Census that Riverwood students participated in during the 2019-2020 school year.

    The bees are just the latest addition to Riverwood's outdoor learning environment that began with the reintroduction of the Riverwood Garden displaced by campus construction in 2018.

    According to Lawrimore, "Tim's enthusiasm, knowledge, and patience are what made this project happen. He models how to use the equipment and is great at encouraging questions from students. It's what science is all about; asking questions and then having the perseverance to keep working to figure out the answers."

    For more information on Tim Doherty's work with veterans and beekeeping, visit


Awards and Honors

  • State Bridge Crossing Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence along with eight other Georgia schools. The national recognition is bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and is based on a school's overall academic performance or closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. USDE invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

    State Bridge Crossing applied during the spring of 2020 and was awarded in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category. Principal Bridgette Marques shared her pride in the hard work of her school community. "Our faculty and staff have mastered personalized instruction and utilize research-based, carefully planned lessons that instill a profound love of learning," she said. "I believe that sticking close to our mission - to create lifelong learners and to foster the development of responsible citizens - and best practices led to the school's National Blue Ribbon nomination. We strive to create educational experiences for students that meet their unique learning profiles."

    All nominated public schools must meet the state's goals for interim progress in the state accountability system or other performance targets in reading (or English language arts), mathematics, graduation rates, and possibly other academic indicators for the all students group. Additionally, nominated schools must have assessment participation rates of at least 95 percent, using the most recent accountability results for the student's group. In its 38th year, the National Blue-Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.

    State School Superintendent Richard Woods said, "National Blue Ribbon Schools are among the best of the best in our country. I am extremely proud of the educators and students at these Georgia public schools and offer my heartfelt congratulations to each one of them. This is a well-deserved recognition and shines a spotlight on schools working hard to expand opportunities for students."


  • Nine students from Centennial, Chattahoochee, Northview, and Johns Creek High serve as new Johns Creek Student Ambassadors. These students have been working hard over the past three months to plan two candidate debates. The students formulated all the questions, worked to create a virtual platform, created rules, moderated, and worked behind the scenes to make these events happen for the residents of Johns Creek. The students include Mehar Nemani from Centennial; Aditi Mohan and Akhila Yellapragada from Chattahoochee; Ashutosh Chakragiri, Janice Nam, and Tina Dong from Northview; and Ty Davalbhakta, Omer Mujawar, Elizabeth Douglas, and Charlotte Lichtenfeld from Johns Creek. Tina Dong serves as the student adviser to the team, having been an Ambassador last year.


  • Under the direction of choral director Jennie Fabianski, the Chattahoochee High choir has received an invitation by the Historic Programs and the committee for Remembering 9/11 Commemoration to represent the state of Georgia in the National Memorial Concert. This event will help mark the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The National Memorial Concert will commemorate this historic anniversary with a special concert in New York City at Carnegie Hall.

    For the 12th consecutive year, the Fulton County Board of Education has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award recognizes the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. Prepared by FCS' department of financial services, the CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the program's high standards, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

    The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

    FCS Board President Julia Bernath said, "We are so proud of our stellar finance team for their extraordinary and dependable work preparing this financial document. The consistent recognition is a testimony to their commitment to fiscal responsibility and integrity."

    GFOA, which represents public finance officials through the U.S. and Canada, advances government finance excellence by providing best practices, professional development, resources, and practical research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.

    "This is symbolic of the year-round effort of the financial services team to provide transparency and understanding of Fulton County Schools' financial position," said Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef. "This international award by the GFOA illustrates the School Board's commitment and its staff at meeting the highest principles of governmental financial reporting."


In Case You Missed It 

  • Through a partnership with Hands on Atlanta,Brookview Elementary will begin its first free virtual Discovery STEM Enrichment program. Thirty third and fifth grade students were selected to receive STEM kits to engage in STEM activities from home beginning October 17. 


  • Love T. Nolan Elementary has started a program to expand access for families remotely to its media center.  Nolan has launched Owlflix, which allows scholars to visit the school's website, reserve a book, and pick it up on Wednesdays between 10 am and 2 pm.


  • Evoline C. West Elementary is the recipient of a $1000 grant from the Floyd and Gwendolyn Bryant Foundation. The school will use the grant to buy books for students. Those books will be added to K – 5 classroom libraries.


  • Woodland Middle Counselor Karla Sutherland forged a partnership with IGNITE College Park Resources Center and the Right Hand Foundation. IGNITE connects families to needed resources like school supplies and utility assistance, while the Right Hand Foundation provides single moms with rent-free housing and help with educational programs.

    During the summer, Sutherland and IGNITE College Park's Executive Director, Jamelle McKenzie, began discussing ways to remove families and students' challenges as they transitioned back into the classrooms. "We're neighbors," said Sutherland. "So, while COVID had us spending more time at home, Jamelle reached out to inquire what I thought our school's needs would be once we returned in August. We have many families that struggle with basics. Making sure our scholars are prepared to learn when they login to their classes or walk through the doors is high on the list."

    IGNITE College Park's made its first donation in early August. "Since all of our scholars started the school year learning remotely, McKenzie provided 200 student whiteboards for us to distribute with school supplies," said Sutherland. "With the whiteboards, our students can now show their work while learning remotely and have additional tools to work within the classroom when we return to face-to-face learning. Additionally, the whiteboards will help teachers assess and quickly adjust their teaching when needed."

    In early September, McKenzie reached out again with a second donation. This time she brought along two representatives from the Right Hand Foundation, Tanisha Mitchell and Lynelle Stewart. "Because of this organization's holistic approach to supporting families in unstable living conditions, specifically single mothers and children, our population is in a position to benefit from their services," said Sutherland.

    As students returned to face-to-face learning on October 14, McKenzie, concerned about students and staff's safety, presented the school with 1000 face masks. "It is important to us that every student at Woodland Middle has access to a face mask so they can attend school daily, keeping the risks of COVID to a minimum," said McKenzie.

    Principal Dr. Regina Brown is grateful for the new partnerships with IGNITE and the Right Hand Foundation. "My heart skipped a beat with joy when Ms. Sutherland expressed that Ms. Jamelle McKenzie from IGNITE wanted to support Woodland Middle this school year," said Dr. Brown. "We want to keep our scholars engaged and healthy, but we also desire to build and maintain relationships with community stakeholders. These community partners are demonstrating the true meaning of our schoolwide mantra; we are Woodland."

    Woodland Middle
    Pictured L-R are IGNITE volunteers, Dr. Regina Brown and Counselor Karla Sutherland.


  • On October 5, sixth grade Social Studies students at Crabapple Middle School (CMS) participated in a virtual school program led by the educators at the Kennesaw State University Museum of History and Holocaust Education. This is the third year the CMS department has incorporated KSU’s “The Rise of Nazi Germany” program from CMS’ History of Europe unit in a one-time presentation for students. Before Covid-19, the KSU educators would teach in person at CMS, but the museum educator was presented virtually this year via TEAMS.


  • The City of Milton awarded Crabapple Crossing Elementary a $600 Environmental Education grant to purchase and install native plants to attract birds, butterflies, and bees in a garden sanctuary. The sanctuary, located in an open-air courtyard in a central area of the school, can be viewed from one of the main hallways and the art room. An after-school club will allow students to learn, care for, and maintain the garden. Practical knowledge about the passing of the seasons will be on full display as these plants grow, bloom, and become dormant. Students and teachers said they look forward to the hands-on, practical experience of cultivating, maintaining, and enjoying this sanctuary.