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News to Know for the Week of November 16, 2020

News to Know


News to Know November 16, 2020 

  • Fulton County Schools (FCS) is relaunching its Text4Help campaign. It was introduced in 2018 by Fulton County District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis, Vice Chairman of the Commission as a tool for students to receive mental health support from licensed clinicians., FCS is doing a full reboot upon learning that only 25% of students in the district who need mental health support received care. In the wake of the pandemic, social unrest, and virtual learning, to name a few challenges for our youth, the district estimates that number has grown.

    Students experiencing anxiety or stress can receive assistance by anonymously texting their unique school code after dialing into the Text4Help hotline 1-844-201-9946. The certified clinicians are provided from district social services partner CHRIS180 and respond to inquiries within three to five minutes. The conversation is completely free, anonymous, and confidential.


  • To ensure children have access to essential nutrition over Thanksgiving Break, School Nutrition will distribute extra meals and increase Meal Kit distribution efforts. School Nutrition will be sending an email out and calling all families via school messenger to let them know the updates.

    For our Virtual Learners:
    • School Nutrition will be distributing Meal Kits on Wednesday, November 18th AND Friday, November, 20th.
    • Wednesday, November 18th, children will be provided a free Meal Kit with five days' worth of food.
    • Friday, November 20th, children will receive an additional Thanksgiving Break Meal Kit with five days’ worth of food. During this special distribution day, children will receive enough meals to last until the next Meal Kit distribution.
    • Thanksgiving Break Meal Kits must be pre-ordered online by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. The current online pre-order site, has a dedicated spot for ordering these meals. Instructions are on the site as well.
    • Curbside Pick-Up locations will not be open on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Curbside Pick-Up locations will resume on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

    For our Face-To-Face Students:
    • Since these students do not participate in the Curbside Meal Kit Distribution, School Nutrition will prepare Thanksgiving Break Meal Kits with 10 meals, 5 breakfast & 5 lunches.
    • These Meal Kits will ensure students continue to receive the nutrition they need while schools are closed for Thanksgiving Break. This provides students breakfast and lunch meals until they return to school.
    • More information regarding Thanksgiving Break Meal Kits for face-to-face students will be provided by each individual school.


Save the Date


  • American Education Week is November 16-20.  Cosponsored by the National Education Association, National PTA, National School Public Relations Association, and other national education associations to keep the public aware of what schools are doing, American Education Week is observed the week before Thanksgiving. For more information, visit


  • FCS College & Career Academy will hold an Open House November 17 at 5 p.m. Students and parents are invited to see the state-of-the-art academy. Students can receive training for careers in Aviation, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Film/T.V., and Teaching as a Profession. Learn more about the FCS College & Career Academy here.


  • Fulton County Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, and Fulton County Government are teaming up with Feed A Billion to hold a Thanksgiving meal giveaway. Feed A Billion is an international charity that provides food and assistance to families in need. The Thanksgiving Giveaway will be held November 19, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at two locations:

    • South Fulton
      Banneker High School
      6015 Feldwood Rd. Atlanta, Ga.

    • North Fulton
      North Transportation Center
      410 S. Main Street Alpharetta, Ga.

      Pick up locations will be drive-through, first come, first serve.

    • Each bag of food will include:
      10-12 lb. turkey
      10 lb. bag of produce and fruit
      1 frozen apple pie
      1 $20 Kroger gift card

      For more information on the Feed A Billion Thanksgiving Giveaway visit   


  • FCS is partnering with Purposity, an Atlanta-based organization that connects students in need with people in the community who can help.

    As the holiday season approaches, FCS and Purposity will provide holiday gifts for students. School social workers will upload the student's needs to the Purposity app.

    How can you help? Download the Purposity app today in preparation for the holiday lists that will be uploaded by November 30. Stay tuned to social media and the FCS website. Your gift could be a winter coat for a middle schooler or household essentials for a high schooler's family. Users decide if they want to help, and in just a few clicks on their phone, the need is met. You will know who you are helping and why. Purposity is the simplest way for you to make an impact quickly and easily this holiday season. For more information, visit 


Awards and Honors


  • The Alpharetta High's (AHS) volleyball team won its first GHSA state championship victory on November 7 in the 7A division - their first year up from the 6A division - in a 3-1 set score at the Lake Point Sports Complex in Cartersville. Under Coach Grace Fossier, the team beat Walton High School from Cobb County in an epic battle. Standout players included seniors Evoni Williams, Lauren Boyles, Ava Pitchford, Layla Estes, sophomore Trinity Mitchell, and freshmen Logan Wiley and Jada Nelson.

    Through a coach-based regional nomination process, numerous AHS team members considered major team contributors were voted to the All-Area Teams: Evoni Lemons, Lauren Boyles, and Ava Pitchford (first team), Layla Estes, Logan Wiley and Jada Nelson (second team) and Trinity Mitchell received an honorable mention. Additionally, Evoni Lemons was voted Player of the Year on the regional and state level for 7A Classification.


  • Cambridge High's Boys Cross Country Team won the 2020 GHSA 6A State Championship. Presented by Atlanta Track Club, the event was held November 6-7 at Carrollton High.

    This is the second state championship the boys' team has captured in four years by placing all five scoring runners in the top 27. Top runners were Caelan Jones, Cole Suplee, Kaine Dudley, Lyle Donovan, and Colby Jones, giving the Bears the state title with a 9-point advantage over South Effingham. After three straight state titles, the Cambridge Lady Bears came up just short of a four-peat, outpaced by Pope and Allatoona High Schools but took third place in team scores.


  • The City of Fairburn honored Creekside High Band Director Dexter Bailey with a proclamation in his honor during a virtual city council meeting. The proclamation hails his "efforts in creating a safe and encouraging environment for all his students during the pandemic." Bailey was nominated by one of his "chaperones," a parent volunteer who works for the city and monitors COVID-19 protocols at the school. The volunteer had witnessed many behind-the-scenes, innovative adjustments to the band program due to the COVID-19 virus. Bailey is in his fourth year at Creekside. Besides teaching concert and marching bands, Bailey also teaches percussion ensemble, music theory, and music technology. "The nomination came as a complete surprise and was a huge honor," he said.


  • The Alpharetta High (AHS) Marching Band was named Silver Division Grand Champion in the 38th annual Superbowl of Sound Festival and Contest November 7. Under the director of AHS Director and Associate Director of Bands, Ira Jenkins and Jared Kaufmann, respectively, the AHS Marching Raider Band achieved this accomplishment despite the limitations and significant adjustments that the band students have had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic. First-place awards were given in the Class A.A. category and the overall Silver Division for Band, Percussion, Color Guard, and Drum Major. On November 9, the band performed in their stadium, videotaping the performance for submission to the U.S. Bands Grand Finale Virtual Marching Band Competition.


  • The Taylor Road Middle (TRMS) Junior Cougar Cross Country Team, won the State Championship on October 17 in Cochran, GA, at Bleckley County Elementary School. Runners claimed four of the five state titles and 24 individual medals. One out of every four medals earned by competitors in the 32-team field was awarded to TRMS Jr. Cougars.

    Under the direction of Head Coach Michael Sinco, Assistant Coach Lindsay Resnik, and Lay Coaches Jim Rasmussen and Erin Menezes; the team participates in the Large Schools classification since TRMS feeds into Chattahoochee High School's 6A. The Jr. Cougars participated in all four races: J.V. Boys, J.V. Girls, Varsity Boys, and Varsity Girls. Both JV teams and Varsity Boys won while the Varsity Girls finished fourth, capturing the Team Grand Champion title.


  • Fulton Academy of Science and Technology (FAST) announced on November 3 that it had earned both accreditation and STEM Provider Certification by Cognia™. This nonprofit organization provides quality assurance for schools, school districts, and education service providers.

    "School accreditation as conferred by the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission provides FAST a nationally recognized mark of quality for our school," shared Principal Stan Beiner. "It demonstrates to the community our commitment to excellence, our openness to external review and feedback, and our desire to be the best we can be on behalf of the students we serve." To earn Cognia accreditation, a school also must implement a continuous process of improvement and submit to an internal and external review. Schools in good standing can maintain their accreditation for a five-year term.

     STEM schools promote scientific inquiry and engineering design, develop skill sets that transfer across career sectors, bolster students' critical thinking capacity, and perseverance through complex tasks.

    "In reviewing FAST, our evaluators were particularly impressed by the expertise and passion the organization brings to its work in extending STEM learning opportunities for young people," noted Scott Davidson, senior director, STEM services at Cognia.

    FAST is a Fulton County Schools public charter school serving grades K-8. FAST emphasizes innovation and STEM by offering science daily with the hands-on FOSS Science curriculum, Singapore Math for its math curriculum, and a unique Innovation Hour/Genius Hour program in all grades.


  • Autrey Mill Middle eighth grade student Sanjana Shah has been named a winner in the iWRITE publishing contest for her poem "The Stargazer Call." Every year, iWrite holds an annual publishing contest for students from grades 3-12. The students submit a short story, poem, or illustration. Sanjana's work has been professionally published in the 11th volume of the I Write Short Stories by Kids for Kids anthology.

    To recognize and celebrate this year's winners, the organization hosted a virtual event of their Annual iWRITE Book Signing of the anthology on November 14. The event literary theme is Outer Space and features a special guest appearance from Academy Award-winning actor and the author of "Greenlights," Matthew McConaughey. To accommodate a virtual context for the event, iWrite had the winning students send their signatures, and each signature was published in the book with their story or poem. At the event, iWrite announced a new contest posted here.

    The mission of iWRITE is to build student confidence through writing, and this event raises funds to support continued programming growth for iWRITE.   


Cool Kids Doing Cool Things


  • Nevaeh Hart, 10, a fifth-grader at Evoline C. West Elementary, used her personal experience with bullying to help other students. She put pen to paper and wrote her first book, Overcoming a Bully.  The book features a character named Emma. When Emma starts school, she hopes to make new friends and expects to have lots of fun, but then she meets a girl Laura who makes fun of her and bullies her about her looks. Due to her bullying, Emma gets upset and is unable to concentrate. Eventually, Emma's character succeeds in winning her bully over.

    "I am excited to publish my first book, said Nevaeh. "Through this book, I would like to say to never let anyone take power over you. I took my power back, and my superpower is making reading great again. What I have gone through, I don't want anyone else to experience it. So, 'Overcoming a Bully' will be a great help for kids."

    The book can help children seek help when being bullied. It also sheds light on the effects of bullying.  "As her mother, I am so proud of her for taking control and writing a book," said Raina Knox. "It has been breath-taking, to see where she was three years ago to now is unbelievable. Kids her age will want to read the book because they may see something they have dealt with and see how she overcame wasn't easy, no, but it will be worth it."

    Ilham Boam illustrated the book. Her book is available both in e-book and paperback format on Amazon.

    Bully Book Cover Bully Book 2


  • "Teacher Pep Rally," a podcast launched in September by FCS Governance and Flexibility Specialist Erin King and fellow collaborator and Penn State professor Fred Aebl features education-related topics with guests from around the U.S. and Canada. King and Aebli co-host the show and team members Pete Bush, a music teacher in Cobb County, and Letitia Jones, talent coordinator for FCS.  Podcasts are released on Mondays. Barnwell Elementary fifth-grade teacher and 2019 Georgia Teacher of The Year Allison Townsend was a recent special guest. Three FCS graduates pursuing higher education and careers in performing arts are featured on the newly released episode. King had been writing a blog for teachers for over three years called Inspired Education ("InspirED"). "I am always talking to people about education, pedagogy, and support for teachers," said King. "It has been a lot of fun."


  • Johns Creek High's (JCHS) Advanced Drama Class held a storytelling unit in October. They read to their elementary feeder school students from State Bridge, Dolvin, Medlock Bridge, JCHS' Community Based Instruction/Special Education class, and even a third-grade class in Harrison, Ohio.  The project was led by JCHS Theatre Director Debbie Prost, who was informed by Sarah Stoffle, Theatre Director at Alpharetta High School, that she planned to do a storybook unit with her acting students. Prost discussed the idea with a third-grade teacher friend at Crosby Elementary in Harrison, Ohio, who sent her a diverse book list, featuring voices from different cultures. Prost ordered all the books, and her advanced drama students recorded the stories using Flipgrid, a video discussion/sharing platform. They read 29 stories highlighting a multitude of different voices in the class who shared the information. One student read the same book in both English and Spanish.


  • Student Discipline Prevention and Intervention Department has just received a U.S. Department of Justice STOP School Violence grant. The grant, valued at $565,790, will help FCS foster a more collaborative approach for threat assessment and crisis intervention, building district capacity to respond to threats. It will also help students in crisis get the support they need, such as crisis assessment and follow-up mental health sessions. Maribel Bell, Director of Student Discipline, will be the grant lead and build on the district's momentum from its three previous awards that have focused more on hardening facilities and training staff. "This grant will allow us to create a common language to clarify the various threat levels for parents," said Bell. "We are excited about the opportunity to provide students and their parents with needed professional follow-up support. Also, we can engage community partners in learning about student safety, violence, mental health, and well-being to reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness."


  • Riverwood International Charter School has a food pantry! The Raider Depot is designed to assist Riverwood families who are experiencing crises. Needs include death in the family, difficult home life circumstances, natural disasters such as fires or flooding, homelessness, sickness, unemployment, new baby, and COVID-related needs. The Riverwood Counseling department and Riverwood ESOL teacher Mary Schmidt collaborate to learn each family's needs and provide aid where possible via the Raider Depot. The Depot offers a stopgap measure to assist students with emergencies in the short-term confidentially until other support services can be arranged.   Founded in 2019, the Depot has cared for approximately 100 families so far, with some requiring additional assistance this school year. Last year, Riverwood partnered with Holy Innocent's Episcopal School to provide supplies to the Raider Depot in addition to gifts from private donations, Riverwood clubs, and staff. Clothing, blankets, and specific food items are accepted and can be dropped off at Riverwood at any time during school hours. For suggestions on items needed, visit the Raider Depot page at   


In Case You Missed It   


  • NBA Champion Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers dropped by Conley Hills Elementary to encourage students to remain active and healthy during the school year. Students, inspired by his story, learned some practical fitness tips during Howard's visit.    


  • Sandy Springs Charter Middle (SSCMS) was the recipient of the generosity of Rotary Club of Sandy Springs (RCSS) with a check for $1,920 to fund eight hotspot devices for students' connectivity to the internet. Rotary Sandy Springs has been active in serving the local community for over 48 years. "Education has always been one of our highest priorities for service projects," said Club President John Neill. We are incredibly pleased to provide these hotspots to enable distance learning for students who may not have internet access at home."

     Principal Laurie Woodruff responded during the presentation by saying, "I feel fortunate to have an amazing organization such as Rotary Club of Sandy Springs invested in supporting our school and community. I know that our partnership will continue to flourish, with the students of SSCMS being the ultimate beneficiaries."

    Those present to receive the check included SSRC Foundation Chair Will MacArthur, FCS Chief Communications Officer Brian Noyes, 2020-2021 RCSS President John Neill, SSCMS Principal Laurie Woodruff, FCS Office of Grant Development and Community Engagement (and RCSS member) Ashley Garrison, and Rotary District 6900 Immediate Past Governor Jim Squire.