Woodstock HS Welcomes College Reps for Visits

Woodstock High School regularly welcomes university and college representatives to campus for visits with students. These officials answer students questions about such topics as admissions, financial aid, programs and student life.

(From left) Gordon State College representative Taylor Perdue meets with students Cardur St. Pierre, Luis Castaneda, Zach Baitcher, Nathan Kashani and Jabari Overton. Credit: Cherokee County School District

Creek ES STEM Academy Teacher Receives $1,000 Grant

The Department of Natural Resources recently visited Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy to present a teacher with a major award and grant.

Discovery Science Lab teacher Karen Garland was officially honored as the Department’s Georgia Conservation Teacher of the Year and received her $1,000 grant. The grant will be used for a pollinators butterfly project planned by Ms. Garland’s students.

(From left) Assistant Principal Susan Bruno, Anna Yellin and Kim Kilgore from the Department of Natural Resources, teacher Karen Garland, Linda May of the Department, Principal Joey Moss and Academic Facilitator Ashley Polito. Credit: Cherokee County School District

Woodstock Elementary School’s Student Council raised $1,200 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Woodstock Elementary School’s Student Council raised $1,200 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital this holiday season.

The Student Council organized a “Parents Night Out” fundraiser, which was held on the first evening of Thanksgiving Break. During the event, students made a craft, danced, and watched a movie, while their parents started their holiday shopping.

Principal Kim Montalbano said she appreciates Student Council’s teacher sponsors – Rebecca McArthur, Megan Brown, Justine Smith and Erica Morrie – who helped organize the fundraiser.

Donations for St. Jude still are being collected at all six Woodstock Innovation Zone schools (Woodstock High School, Woodstock Middle School, Freedom Middle School, Carmel Elementary School, Sixes Elementary School and Woodstock Elementary School) and they’re engaged in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most money. Credit: Cherokee County School District

Etowah HS Student’s Senior Project Benefits “Shop With An Eagle”

Garrett Ruslin, second from right, presents his donation for ‘Shop With An Eagle’ to (from left) Counselor Michele Dowd, Principal Robert Horn and Facilitator Dr. Erin Jacobs. Credit: Cherokee County School District

Etowah High School senior Garrett Ruslin wanted his Senior Project to make a difference in the community, and he succeeded by raising $850 to help local children in need.

Garrett created limited-edition Etowah High School T-shirts and sweatshirts and sold them at school and online, with all of the profits benefiting the school’s “Shop With An Eagle” program. The program provides underprivileged children in the community with the opportunity to purchase holiday gifts.

“I know there are many children in the world, some right here in our community, that cannot celebrate Christmas with the same excitement that many do,” Garrett said. “It really makes me sad, so I wanted to do something to help. I immediately knew that I wanted to partner with ‘Shop With An Eagle’ for my Senior Project.”

Garrett said he is looking forward to Dec. 2 when the children will get to “Shop With An Eagle”, now with $850 more available thanks to his project’s success.

“That is going to be a wonderful day for them that will lead to a great holiday,” he said.

Woodstock HS Earns Prestigious State STEM Certification

Woodstock High School is the first high school in the Cherokee County School District to earn prestigious State STEM Certification … and only the 12th high school in all of Georgia.

A Georgia Department of Education State STEM Certification Team visited the school Wednesday to make the final determination as to whether the school had achieved the high standards required for the elite designation. The Team unanimously gave the school its seal of approval.

“The certification committee could not stop praising the efforts of Woodstock High School and the opportunities our students have to be part of such a rich experience,” Principal Mark Smith said.

Woodstock High School is the first high school and only the second school in the district, following Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, to earn this distinction.

“For Woodstock High School, this is the culmination of several years’ worth of planning and implementation on the part of our teachers, parents, business partners, and students,” Principal Smith said of the accomplishment. “Moving forward, this will allow our students who choose to follow one of our STEM Pathways to be officially recognized by the State as having completed a certified STEM Pathway.”

The path to State STEM certification is a complex, multi-year process requiring strong evidence of meeting and exceeding standards in areas such as math and science instruction, technology integration, teacher collaboration, STEM competitions, and business partnerships.

Principal Smith and the school will be recognized for earning this State honor by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Board’s Nov. 16 School Board meeting.

“This is an amazing accomplishment that the entire Cherokee County community can be proud of, and for which so many deserve kudos and thanks for their efforts and support,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower said. “We knew that Woodstock’s team was leading the charge on high school STEM education, and this recognition is an extraordinary validation that we’re on the right path in preparing students for the STEM careers of today and tomorrow. The lessons learned through this process have evolved into best practices that all of our schools can adopt. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement!”

River Ridge HS Students Bring Anti-Bullying Message to Elementary Students

The River Ridge High School Team: HEROIC student club takes its anti-bullying message on the road for performances at local elementary schools.

Through an engaging series of skits, the high school students define bullying, explain its effects, and encourage a more inclusive environment.

Headed out for a visit to Arnold Mill Elementary School are River Ridge HS students, from left to right, front row: Henry Fornuto; back row: Addison Hoorfard, Chris Cochran, Reece Pappas, Olivia Brianas, Lexxa Emory, Calise Hammonds, Matt Henao, Ana Ramirez, Justin Bacon and Noah Fornuto. Credit: CHerokee County School District

Superintendent Wins Award for School & Community Relations

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, center, is congratulated on winning the Georgia School Public Relations Association’s Outstanding Leadership in School/Community Relations Award by President-Elect JD Hardin and President Barbara P. Jacoby. The surprise presentation was made at the Association’s Annual Conference. Credit: Cherokee County School District

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower has been honored with a top state award for school and community relations.

The Georgia School Public Relations Association presented Hightower with the Outstanding Leadership in School/Community Relations Award at its Annual Conference.

The award recognizes an individual, other than those directly responsible for a public relations program, who has proven himself or herself to be a leader in using effective school and community relations to build support for public education in his or her community.

“Dr. Brian Hightower’s support for school and community relations sets a standard that all School Superintendents should aim to achieve,” GSPRA President Barbara Jacoby said. “He truly understands the importance of communicating with students, parents, employees, volunteers, partners and the community at large and the value of building relationships with all of these groups that are vital to the success of a school system.”

Previous recipients of the annual award in recent years include: former Fulton County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Avossa; Dr. Stan DeJarnett, Executive Director, Georgia Vision Project; and former Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood.

“Communicating with and engaging with our community is a responsibility I take very seriously as Superintendent of Schools,” Dr. Hightower said. “Public schools play a vital role in the lives of everyone in a community. It’s my job as Superintendent not only to ensure that the best teaching and learning possible happens in our classrooms, but also that our community knows about our successes and challenges and has the opportunity to get involved and support our mission.”

Hightower was praised for initiatives he has championed since taking office including an increase in internal and external communications, a user-friendly website redesign, an image and identity campaign and the newly launched VILLA parent academy in cooperation with the Georgia School Boards Association.

He participates in nonstop community outreach including visiting all of CCSD’s schools and centers several times a year and attending school special events; meetings with parents, employees from all levels of the organization, business partners and community leaders; and giving informational presentations for civic clubs and business and economic development groups.

Beyond engaging with his School District, Hightower also was recognized for his advocacy efforts on behalf of public education in his community and statewide.