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News to Know for the Week of March 15, 2021

News to Know


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.

    Here are some of the various projects, celebrations, events, and competitions that students across the district have recently engaged in.

    Donna Cohen, Adaptive Art teacher at Banneker High, assisted special needs students as they worked with color.

    Jade Lambert, Tri-Cities High Visual and Performing Arts Magnet instructor, is working with students who will compete in the Auguste Wilson Monologue Competition on March 19.

Donna Cohen

Info Banneker Adaptive Art teacher Donna Cohen works with student on color.

Jade Lambert
Tri-Cities High VPA instructor Jade Lambert & students prepare for Auguste Wilson Monologues competition March 19.


  • Paul D. West Middle celebrated Youth Art Month by kicking off its JumpStart Theatre program. The program is designed to build sustainable musical theatre programs in underserved middle schools. Schools are rigorously screened on multiple criteria, most notably, passion and commitment. Participating schools receive materials, funding, expert training, and an experienced teaching artist, or mentor to support their program.

    Brittney Walton, Jamila Turner, and Billy Crosby are heading the program at Paul D. West. Besty Eppes, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator with FCS, encouraged Paul D. West to apply for the program. "The reason JumpStart Theatre is so important is the inherent ability of the performing arts, specifically musical theater, to engage and ignite student learning across all their learning and beyond," said Eppes. "The impact that building and sustaining a middle school music theatre program brings to students, teachers and the school community is powerful."

    Visual Arts teacher Brittney Walton has done Improv at the Alliance Theatre. "Art, theatre, and music are incorporated into everything we do at Paul D. West, said Walton.

    Drama teacher Jamila Turner noted how the pandemic has affected what students can experience. "Theatre is meant to be seen in person," said Turner. "It has been difficult to do that in a virtual setting."

    Ricardo Aponte, Alliance Theatre, is an artist/mentor who will work with Walton and Turner to instruct students in the JumpStart program.  Interestingly, Aponte learned English through participating in theatre.  "With Ricardo's help and JumpStart, we're learning new ways to show theatre in a virtual setting with hopes of giving our students what theatre gives you, moments of being alive," said Turner.

    In the coming months, the important work of producing musical theatre at Paul D. Westwill engage students who can share their talent with peers and the community. "We're excited about having this program," said Principal Darrell Stephens. "It allows us to elevate progress over perfection, as it offers an essential component of a well-rounded education."

    For more information on the JumpStart program visit

    Bands and orchestras across the district will participate in Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE) this month. Most bands will submit recordings, to be judged virtually. Chattahoochee, Cambridge, and Milton High bands are performing in person at Chattahoochee High on Wednesday March 17.

    Alpharetta High will host a Winter Guard competition on Saturday, March 20. The competition is a chance for many north Fulton Winter Guards to compete, including Alpharetta, Milton, Chattahoochee, Cambridge, and Johns Creek High schools.

    Art students in eleven Fulton County Schools had their workfeatured in the 34th annual North Fulton High School Exhibition 2021. The Roswell Fine Arts Alliance (RFAA) and the Roswell Visual Arts Center co-sponsored the exhibition. The Kiwanis Club of History Roswell (KCHR) also contributed prize money. Participating schools include Alpharetta, Cambridge, Centennial, Chattahoochee, John's Creek, Independence, Milton, North Springs, Northview, Riverwood, and Roswell High School. Top honors of Best in Show went to Ellis Miller of Riverwood from the RFAA for her block print and Sophia Sun of Johns Creek from KCHR for her graphite piece. First Place awards went to Semin Haley Park of Northview from the RFAA for her watercolor and Stella Roden of North Springs from KCHR for her acrylic and ink piece.

    The RFAA provides $1,000 in cash prizes, and KCHR contributes prize winnings of up to $3,400 in awards. During the Roswell Visual Arts Center exhibition, a viewing day was scheduled with specific hours for schools to maintain safe social distancing with additional view-by-appointment arrangements. Internationally acclaimed Russian-American artist and art teacher Yulia Jeltuhin served as an adjudicator for the competitions. Trained in Russia, Jeltuhin's family immigrated to the U.S. and eventually to Atlanta, where she now owns a teaching art studio for children.

    Laurianne Love, Visual Arts Coordinator of the City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs, called the exhibit "a wonderful success."


Awards and Honors  

  • Sandtown Middle Spanish teacher Tavane Moore is the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT). The leadership award is given to K-12 educators who demonstrate excellence in language teaching through service to the school, community, active participation in SCOLT, and leadership and advocacy at the local, state, regional, or national level.  The mission of SCOLT is the advanced study of modern and classical languages, their literature, and cultures at all levels of instruction.


  • Tri-Cities High's Josiah Mitchell won First Place in the English-Speaking Union's Atlanta Shakespeare Competition with his portrayal of Edmund from "King Lear." Mitchell will advance to the National Competition in New York, NY virtually. Jordan Spencer placed Fourth with her portrayal of Viola from "Twelfth Night."


Raven Johnson

Westlake's Raven Johnson is 2021 Jersey Mike's Naismith High School Player of the Year.

  • Raven Johnson of Westlake High won the Jersey Mike's Naismith High School Trophy for Girls Player of the Year. Johnson will be honored later this year with a ceremony at Westlake.The Atlanta Tipoff Club developed the award, which was first presented in 1987.


  • Milton High junior Divya Tadanki won the 2021 Essay Contest for Georgia High School by the Atlanta St. Patrick's Day Committee. The 1,000-1,500-word essay topic was "The impact of Covid-19, from an Irish Perspective," with the challenge of looking at the pandemic's effect on Ireland through numerous socio-economic and cultural lenses. Tadanki won $1,000 and an invitation to present the essay at the annual Atlanta St. Patrick's Day event. This year the event will be live streamed on St. Patrick's Day March 17,between 4 and 5 p.m.

    Divya will speak right after key presenters, Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Dan Mulhall, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and The Coca-Cola Company Chief Financial Officer John Murphy.

    Divya emphasized unity and how all people worldwide, regardless of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity, share the same experiences during this time.  She wrote of her family's experiences as Indian-Americans and drew comparisons between Ireland, India, and the United States' pandemic. "I really wanted to connect everyone's experiences together," she said, "to show that, even in a time in which we are so divided, we are in fact quite similar."

    Her month-long research led her to study Irish culture and economy, exploring Irish pastimes, common sayings, and the entertainment industry and how they felt the heavy impact of the pandemic's changes. She also examined immigration issues and the procedural and emotional changes Irish immigrants experienced from travel restrictions and quarantines.

    Forever grateful for her Milton English teachers, Divya expressed how much her teachers helped hone her skills as a writer in finding good resources to enhance her creativity and encouraged her to pursue her goals.

    To participate in the St. Patrick's Day presentation, click here.


  • Alpharetta High seniorKruthik Ravikanti was named one of two winners of Prudential Spirit of Community Program Award. The U.S.'s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Kruthik was recognized for his co-founding of the nonprofit organization Georgia Youth Leaders (GYL), which helps other young people start, fund, and execute their own service projects. His inspiration came after he and friend realized many young people aren't particularly interested in common types of volunteering and who prefer to launch their own projects yet lack time and money to start a nonprofit business. Together, they created GYL, a 501(c)3 organization that provides information and guidance to young social entrepreneurs, allows them to benefit from nonprofit status, and helps procure funding to enable students to carry out large-scale projects.

    Once formed, GYL founders held seminars to attract high school students who had service projects that could operate under the GYL umbrella. Then GYL began applying for grants to help fund them promoting through social media, mentoring their leaders and developing websites. Eight projects are now part of the GYL network, three of which are from AHS students. These new endeavors include initiatives around relief to human trafficking victims, cleanup of local environments and donating books to children in need.

    "Georgia Youth Leaders is a bridge connecting change-makers with teens trying to find their passions through volunteering," said Kruthik. He has won other prestigious honors for various projects such as the Congressional Medal Award, won the Presidential Volunteer Award twice, and is due to receive the Points of Light Award March 17.

    What's Kruthik's secret? Identifying and addressing the root of the community problems learned at the social entrepreneur program, Social Innovators Academyby Giving Point, during his sophomore year.

    He received a cash prize of $2,500 and will be officially awarded at a virtual ceremony in early May, in which 10 of the state honorees will be selected as national winners.

    Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals collaborated to create the awards program to honor middle and high school students for outstanding service at the local, state, and national level. For more information, visit:  


  • On March 13, Milton High's basketball team won the 2021 GHSA Class AAAAAAA State Championship against Berkmar High School in Lilburn in a nail-biter 52-47 fourth-quarter finish. Favored early in the season to be a championship contender, the Milton Eagles still worked hard. They pulled through, clinching the regional title (their third in a row) before heading to the Macon Centreplex.

    "This season was about perseverance and sacrifice," said Eagles Coach Allen Whitehart. "With COVID-19 and the changes in the normalcy that students have become accustomed to, we could stay locked in and finish the drill as state champions with a 28-2 record and 26-game winning streak!"

    This is Milton's third state championship since 2010, and they are ranked #7 in the nation.


Cool Kids (and Teachers) Doing Cool Things  

  • Cogburn Woods Elementary (CWES) is the only FCS elementary school with an Agricultural Program and one of only 20 schools across Georgia. CWES is part of a pilot initiative resulting from the 2018 passage of state Senate Bill 330 legislation that supports a three-year elementary agriculture (or "AG" as it is called in the business) education program. Two former Rock Springs, Ga students lobbied the bill to inspire AG interest in young people as the average Georgia farmer is now around 65 years old.

    In its second full year, the CWES AG program's curriculum serves second through fifth-grade students and is taught by teacher Matt Brown. On the school grounds are a working edible garden and chicken coop, providing opportunities for students to learn about the largest industry in Georgia.

    Each program must include three components: classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and leadership opportunities through Future Farmers of America, which has traditionally been offered only, to middle and high schools.  CWES students learn about how the industry works and have required garden and chicken coop upkeep tasks, not unlike real farm chores such as feeding the chickens, collecting eggs, tilling the garden, spreading mulch, and planting seeds and vegetables. Brown is introducing a new project that involves students designing their farms with budget and acreage limits and accountability for financial expenditures, and verification of how the farm will generate a profit. However, students can determine their main farm product of either dairy or meat and produce.

     A passionate supporter of agriculture, Brown has partnered with the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The Center has donated vegetable plants, and students from Roswell High's construction class are building a garden shed for the program. He says he hopes AG programs will become a statewide standard elementary course in 2022-2023 after the three-year pilot program ends. "We are not trying to turn every student into a farmer," he said. "We are trying to show students the circle of life involved with agriculture. The farmer depends on the consumer. The livestock animals depend on the pollinators to pollinate the grass they eat. The grocery stores depend on the truck drivers, who depend on the mechanics. If all you do is eat, you have the easiest part of the whole system."  


In Case You Missed It  

  • This week we join with others throughout our district and state to celebrate School Board Appreciation Week (March 15-21). We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team leading our school district. School board members volunteer hundreds of hours and an immeasurable amount of energy to ensure our schools provide the best education possible for the children of our community. We thank them for their leadership, commitment to our students, and support in continually improving our students' education system. Our school board members make a difference in our community for every child, every day. Click here for more info. 

    Three FCS basketball teams made it tothe final round of the Georgia High School Assocation (GHSA) playoffs this weekend.  

    Tri-Cities High's Boys Basketball team competed for the 5A State Championship.  

    Westlake High's Girls Basketball won its fourth straight 6A State Championship. The final score was Carrollton 46, Westlake 64.  

    Milton High's Boys Basketball team won its third 7A GHSA State Championship since 2010 with a score or 52-47. 

    United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA) donated $10,000 to support Virtual Learning/Digital Divide support for Brookview Elementary students.  Using the Digital Divide funds, Brookview ES provided the "Launch to Literacy" program, focused on phonemic and phonological awareness, fluency, and reading comprehension for 65 Kindergarten – 2nd- grade students using the iReady platform.   "With our Child Well-Being Index, we watch very closely the percent of third-graders reading at a third-grade level. That's very critical to a child thriving beyond the third grade and having that early learning aspect taken care of," stated Vanessa Roussell, Director of Corporate Relations, NE Region for UWGA. "We want to make sure that we're doing our part to help kids, particularly in areas with low Child Well-Being, have access to resources and tools they need to help them learn and thrive."  Based on iReady Growth reports, many students who participated demonstrated growth in phonics and phonemic awareness, with passing rates increased by the end of this program.