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News to Know for the Week of February 16, 2021

News to Know


Save the Date

Observance of Black History Month began February 1. First created by noted historian Carter G. Woodson in the late 1920s, Black History Month is an annual celebration of African Americans' achievements and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries worldwide, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrate Black history. For more information visit


Autrey Mill Middle will host their first ever Black History Month Poetry Slam on Friday, February 19, during homeroom. This student-guided event originated from a collaboration between the Student Library Advisory Board and the school's Sunshine Club. This year, the group worked diligently to create events that help the Autrey Mill student body feel seen, heard, and accepted within its community and beyond. Candidates are applying to present their poems focusing on the school's Black History Month theme, “Celebrating Representation, Identity, and Diversity." A panel of judges will use a rubric addressing complexity, human experience, evidence supporting the theme, and creativity to guide the selection process. Judges will be offered a blind read without student names to avoid bias in the selection. Students will then meet with the instructional coach, a school counselor, and the media and education technology instructor (METI) to practice and familiarize themselves with the event format before presenting their work. Selected students will read or perform their poems during homeroom on a live Microsoft stream, open to all face-to-face and virtual students. The program creators expect to host 5-10 poet readers. Autrey Mill METI Martha Bongiorno said, “We are working towards a culture of inclusivity and thankful for an opportunity to support Black History Month to continue this mission."

Autrey Mill MS Black History Month Poetry Slam

Autrey Mill MS Black History Month Poetry Slam


Students in Kristen Irvin's classes at Alpharetta High will have a special guest to strengthen their research for their Black History Month project. On Thursday, February 18, Irvin's students will interact with award-winning author and filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. Draper will join the classes via Teams for a live discussion.

During Black History Month, students are studying the little-known stories of the African American athletes who participated and won medals in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany. Irvin's students are also viewing the 2016 documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" by Draper and reading parts of her complimentary 2020 book. Students will explore complex issues like the significance of the Olympics taking place in Nazi Germany. The project was created in response to Irvin's enthusiasm about the documentary and her connection to Draper when she met her after attending a film screening.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

Alpharetta High special guest, documentary filmmaker and author Deborah Riley Draper



Awards and Honors

Dolvin ES art teacher/author Hope Knight Dolvin Elementary Art teacher Hope Knight is a new author. Last Spring, Callisto Media publishing company approached Knight to write an arts-oriented book to be included in the “S.T.E.A.M. Baby" series. S.T.E.A.M. is an educational discipline that engages students in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. Callisto Media pursues the most sought-after topics and encourages professionals to write theme books that are in demand. Knight's book entitled “ABC Arts Book" is now available on Amazon and already is a #1 new release in Baby and Toddler Color Books. Because of her long-running art education blog “Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists" and active social media presence in the art education community, Callisto Media easily found her and determined she would be a good fit for the project. Knight worked into the summer of 2020, incorporating different fine arts branches to select word associations with letters. “As a lifelong artist and teacher," she said, “I am thrilled that young children may take an interest in the visual, literary, or performing arts by engaging with this book. I hope it will spark many conversations with their parents or teachers."


The Johns Creek High Boys Swim team won first place in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) 6A state championship. The competition took place at the McCauley Aquatic Center at Georgia Tech in early February. The Gladiators won with an overall score of 405, a lead of over 100 points. Coached by Steve and Rhonda Johnson, the team claimed their second win in three years. Team members Andrew Simmons and Taylor Eaton achieved swim times that qualified for All-American status. Complying with COVID protocols, the 33 competitive high school teams from around the state gathered, masked up, to complete for the title.

Head Coach Steve Johnson said, “Back in October, it was uncertain if there would even be a season for our athletes, let alone a state championship meet. Fortunately, the season began on time, and as we progressed undefeated through our meet schedule, it was evident that we had a strong team with a legitimate shot at a state championship. The victory was truly a team victory with nearly every member of the team contributing points with amazing swims."



Cool Kids (and schools and staff) Doing Cool Things

  • Communities in Schools (CIS) site coordinator helped a Feldwood Elementary family in need. Cristen Jackson, who provides wraparound services at Feldwood ES, received a request to assist a family that needed a desk and chair. She connected with Danielle Hunter, Asa Hilliard Elementary, and found that a donor was providing desks, chairs, books, and computers. When she delivered the items to her Feldwood ESparent, the mother asked if she had an extra desk and chair for an older child. That family, because of the collaboration with Asa Hilliard ES,received two desks, two chairs and two snack packs donated by United Way. Click here for more information on Communities In Schools.


A family of Three stand behind a desk.
Feldwood Desk Donation Family

 Cristen Jackson sitting in donated desk and chair.
CIS Site Coordinator Cristen Jackson with donated desk and chair.

Cristen Jackson stands by table with snack packs
CIS Site Coordinator Cristen Jackson with snack packs donated by United Way


  • Yale graduate student Zachary Silver, is advisor to Langston Hughes students
    Yale graduate student Zachary Silver
    is advisor to Langston Hughes students
    Langston Hughes High has partnered with Yale University for the course, ‘Psychology and the Good Life.' Juniors and seniors met with their Yale advisor, Zachary Silver, for the first time on February 4. “Class members reviewed the syllabus, course expectations, and ensured that student Blackboard accounts were set up," said AP World History Teacher, Jason Truett. “Additionally, we completed the initial ‘happiness' inventory for the course, their first graded assignment."


  • Chattahoochee High students in HOSA-Future Health Professionals, a national career and technical student organization, got a chance to make a difference in their community with one of their school's business partners, Northside Hospital. HOSA helps prepare students for careers in the health science sector. Freda Hardage, director of the Northside Foundation Services for Northside Health System, contacted the club and invited them to participate in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nametag Initiative. The goal was to create special, colorful nametags for premature babies. Under the direction of Chattahoochee health science teacher Leigh Runner, students in “Hooch HOSA," as the group is known, were excited to collaborate on the project, which gave a break to the nurses who were creating over 85 unique nametags each month for the preemie bassinets. Staff needed creative and supportive help and Hooch HOSA students got to work on individualized name tags. A minimum of 50-75 name tags are needed each month for the department's many preemies. Twenty-one students have committed to submitting monthly nametags to the initiative. Chattahoochee's media and education technology instructor (METI), Erica Greene, has also been an active contributor, producing over 100 tags. The group has given their first batch of 95 name tags for delivery by Hardage to the hospital's NICU. Hooch HOSA hopes the families will feel loved and appreciated by Future Health Professionals!


  • Lake Windward Elementary fifth-grader Evan Schloerke has taken his TAG research project on homelessness to the next level. He and his parents volunteer at an Atlanta shelter. Due to Covid-19 protocols, they have learned that the two primary downtown shelter organizations that typically house 110 men cannot allow anyone inside, forcing them to sleep outside. Evan galvanized his friends and contacts to contribute clean blankets or sleeping bags. He aimed to collect 80 blankets to donate to homeless shelters and ended up with nearly 150, so he shifted to soliciting jackets, heavy sweatshirts, underclothes, and socks for the cold winter weather. Since his original pitch, he has reached capacity and can no longer take donations. At the shelter, his family set up tables in an alleyway for the men to line up and receive the gourmet dinner they pass out to each man along with a hearty breakfast and lunch.

    Lake Windward TAG teacher Christa Vogt said, “I've had the pleasure of working with Evan in TAG for several years. He has consistently shown kindness and empathy for others, along with a cleverness well beyond his years. Seeing Evan put this school project to work in the real world has been truly inspiring to his classmates and me.



In Case You Missed It

  • Frito-Lay Women of Color team volunteered at Banneker SAFE Center Pop the Trunk Food Drive
    Frito-Lay Women of Color team volunteered
    at Banneker SAFE Center Pop the Trunk Food Drive
    Banneker High's SAFE Center partnered with Frito-Lay for its Pop the Trunk Food Drive February 10.  Feed the Children donated food boxes, hygiene boxes, personal care items, and school supplies. Frito-Lay donated variety pack chips, laundry detergent, and hand sanitizer. 

    The Frito-Lay Women of Color team loaded cars with boxes of food and personal care items. They served nearly 300 families through the event. “We are grateful to our partners," said Igola Richardson, SAFE Center Director.