News You Can Use - 02/16/2004

During the school year, the Department of Communication & Media Relations produces a media tip sheet called "News You Can Use, which is distributed to metro Atlanta news outlets electronically. This publication provides school and system news, including recent honors, upcoming events, calendar items, and photo opportunities at local schools and central office locations. The tip sheet is sent out at the end of each week, and covers news and GCPS items of interest for the coming 7-10 days.

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News You Can Use…
A Gwinnett County Public Schools Tip Sheet For The News Media
02/16/2004 - 02/22/2004

Melanie Leyva-Abad, a Nesbit Elementary teacher, was named 2004 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Teacher of the Year at the Annual Conference in Athens in January. Ms. Abad will represent the state of Georgia at the National CEC Convention.

Richard Marshall, band director at Collins Hill High, received the National Bandmasters’ Association Citation of Excellence Award. For more information, call Fine Arts Coordinator Robert Andrews at 770-513-6788.

Gregg Tavani, Duluth High soccer coach, was honored as the 2003 Georgia Soccer Coach of the Year. In addition, Mr. Tavani earned his National “A” Coaching License.

Shane Lu, a junior at Parkview High, was named the 2004 Atlanta Brain Bee Champion at the January competition at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Modeled after a traditional spelling bee, the Brain Bee is designed to raise awareness of neuroscience and the brain. Shane will compete in the International Brain Bee in March at the University of Maryland. Lesly Thomas, also a junior at Parkview High, won third place in the match. The event is sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. For more information, call 770-921-2874.

Mary Ann Crain, math specialist at Bethesda Elementary, will be included in this year's “Who’s Who in American Education” publication. In addition, Ms. Crain has been nominated for the Gladys M. Thomason Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to math educators based on distinguished service for the improvement of mathematics instruction. For more information, call 770-921-2000.

Trickum Middle received the Recycler of the Year Award from Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful. Principal Lynne Davis and 8th grade science teacher Martha Bowen accepted the award. This award is for Trickum's recycling efforts during the 2002-03 school year. For more information, call 770-921-2705.

The Peachtree Ridge High Lion Fencers defeated the fencers from Roswell High and Dunwoody High in individual bouting at a recent tournament. The final score was Peachtree Ridge 45; Roswell: 18; and Dunwoody: 13. Tim Whitmer also earned his "E" national ranking at the event. For more information, call 678-957-3100.

Alton C. Crews Middle recognized the outstanding contributions of the school’s 44 business partners at the school’s annual Business Partner Reception. More than $9,000 in donations from the business community funded more than 20 mini-grants for teachers this year. These mini-grants are used to provide supplemental instructional materials for their classrooms. Students were on hand to share some of the ways they have benefited from the use of these materials. For more information, call 770-982-6940.

Sweetwater Middle was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from the Lilburn Wal-Mart, which will be used to help several Sweetwater students with travel and tuition costs to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. For more information, call 770-923-4131.

A group from the British Virgin Islands and IBM will visit Alton C. Crews Middle on Feb. 16 for a tour focusing on the ways that technology can improve student achievement. The group will include the minister of education for the British Virgin Islands, the chief education officer, the minister’s personal assistant, a representative from the IT department, and a client representative and industry executive from IBM. Principal Jonathan Patterson, along with the school’s Technology Team, will present an overview of how the school integrated instructional technology with the support of teachers and the community. The visitors will tour the computer labs and media center, view sample student projects, and visit classrooms to see first-hand how active, motivated, and challenged the students are when using technology. For more information, call 770-982-6940.

In honor of Black History Month, Peachtree Elementary parents and teachers will prepare and serve soul food in the cafeteria. A program of African American dance, music, and culture will be presented during the students' lunch time. Parents are invited to dress in African attire and join their children for the program. For more information, call 770-448-8710.

Beaver Ridge Elementary Academic Mentoring Lab students visited business partner St. Paul Insurance Company. The company sends 25 or more volunteers every week to work in the mentoring program, tutoring academically at-risk students in grades 1-5. Through April, volunteers from business partner American Express will be in classrooms for 45 minutes a week presenting lessons on economics as part of the Junior Achievement program for students in grades 3-5. For more information, call 770-447-6307.

5th grade students at Peachtree Elementary will explore the accomplishments of African Americans and their impact on American culture and society during Black History Month. Teachers and students will create a museum to share their discoveries with other students, looking at all aspects of the stories of black Americans. Exhibits will include a trip on the Underground Railroad, a walk through a Black History Timeline, hearing African American folktales, and a display about African American scientists. For more information, call 770-448-8710.

This week (Feb. 16-22), tune into Gwinnett County Public Schools’ educational access channel for:
--“Teachers Up Close,” about the transition to middle school, airing at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 11 p.m. each day.
--“In Five,” a five-minute news update, airing at 7 a.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 10 p.m. daily.
--“BookTales,” featuring the nominees for the 2003-2004 Georgia Children's Picture Book Award, and airing daily at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
GCPS TV cable channels and providers include:
Adelphia on Channel 20 BellSouth Entertainment on Channel 21
Charter Communications on Channel 22 Comcast on Channel 24
For more information, call the GCPS Broadcast and Distance Learning Department at 678-985-5233, or send an email to A list of this week’s programming may be found on the GCPS Web site--

Knight Elementary 4th and 5th grade drama students will perform “Let Freedom Ring” at the Feb. 16 PTA meeting at 7 p.m. The play depicts three historical events-- the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the encampment at Valley Forge, and Paul Revere’s Ride. For more information, call Johnsie Cooper at 770-921-2400.

The K.E. Taylor Elementary 4th and 5th grade chorus will perform a concert on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria. The concert will include songs, stories, and poems honoring President’s Day, Black History Month, and Valentine's Day. For more information, call 770-338-4680.

Duluth Middle and Duluth High will cosponsor an educational seminar for Spanish-speaking parents on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in the theater. The topic is Gang Awareness and the seminar will be presented in Spanish by Sergeant José Diaz from the Gang Task Force unit of the Gwinnett County Police Department. The seminar aims to educate parents and faculty on ways to keep gang activity out of the lives of students. The program is part of the schools' ongoing commitment to fostering involvement and positive interactions in the community. For more information, call 770-476-3372.

W.C. Britt Elementary is sponsoring a dads’ breakfast in the cafeteria on Feb. 18 for grades K-1, Feb. 19 for grades 2-3, and Feb. 20 for grades 4-5. Breakfast will be served from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. The price is $1.25 for adults and $1 for children. No reservation is required. For more information, call Deanna Chastain, PTA president, at 770-972-4500.

K.E. Taylor Elementary PTA will sponsor a Family Fun Bingo Night on Feb. 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information call 770-338-4680.

K.E. Taylor Elementary will host the fifth annual Witzzle Pro Tournament on Feb. 21.  Teams from Chattahoochee Elementary and Simonton Elementary also will participate in this mathematical competition. For more information call 770-338-4680.

Lawrenceville Elementary will host several parenting workshops on selected Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Material will be available for parents to use at home with their students. Lunch and childcare will be provided. Following are the dates and topics. For more information, call 770-963-1813.
February 21 Homework Help
March 20 Testing Strategies
March 27 Fitness and Nutrition
April 24 Building Self-Esteem/Discipline
May 15 Summer Learning Strategies

The Gwinnett County PTA Council, in conjunction with the Gwinnett County Extension Service and GCPS, will present “Accessing Resources for College-Bound Special Needs Students” on Feb. 23 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. The College Fair will be conducted from 5 to 6:30 p.m., and a program will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call the Gwinnett County Extension Service at 678-377-4010.

Pharr Elementary will hold a Writing Round-Up at the Feb. 23 PTA meeting. Festivities begin at 7 p.m. Children will attend writing sessions, while parents learn strategies to help their students become better writers. Teachers, students, and parents are invited to wear their cowboy attire. For more information, call 770-985-0244.

Kanoheda Elementary will present its annual Black History Month program on Feb. 27 at 9 a.m. in the cafeteria. The program will feature guest speaker Dr. Roosevelt Allen, a Gwinnett Medical Center physician, along with a variety of presentations, including "Dr. Martin Luther King," by Donna Sellers’ kindergarten class; "Many Voices of Jazz," a video production by music teacher Merle Soodyall and 5th grade students; "Jazz," a trumpet performance by 4th grade teacher Donald Parks; a presentation of "The Civil Rights Movement" by Susan Ralstin’s 4th graders; and "You Gotta Believe," presented by the Kelly White Dancers. The Kanoheda Chorus will perform "We’re Singing the Blues for You," and Parent Resource Center Coordinator Shelaine Watson will join them for a medley of spirituals. Principal Terry Watlington will provide closing remarks. For further information, call Kanoheda’s Parent Resource Center at 770-682-4227.

The Gwinnett County Elementary Honor Chorus will present a concert on Feb. 28. The Elementary Honor Chorus is a select group of 5th grade students from schools throughout Gwinnett County. These students were selected by their music teachers based on their musical ability, interest in singing, and overall good citizenship. Christa Joy Chase, the former conductor of the Cincinnati Children’s Choir, will conduct the 195-member chorus. There will be a special presentation by the North Gwinnett High advanced choir. These outstanding choral groups are under the direction of Leigh Ann Wearne. GCPS Fine Arts Coordinator Robert Andrews and the teachers of Gwinnett County invite you to attend. The concert will be performed at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1525 Scenic Highway, Snellville, at 3 p.m. For more information, call Rebecca Smith at 770-972-4500.

Parsons Elementary will host Dr. M.H. Mason Jr. Elementary for the schools’ first Witzzle Pro tournament on Feb. 28. The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Witzzle Pro is a game that reinforces basic math skills, develops problem-solving skills, and explores negative number concepts. For more information, call Joanne Bertolani at 770-232-3370.

The J.C. Magill Elementary Student Council and Beta Club sold candy grams and baked goods for Valentine's Day. All proceeds benefited the school’s Relay for Life team. For more information, call 770-554-1030.

Sycamore Elementary Junior Beta Club members are serving as mentor tutors for grades K-4. These 5th grade students visit a designated classroom during the week and assist students who need help in reading, math, science, or social studies. In addition, Sycamore Beta Club members created more than 40 valentines for children at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. For more information, call 678-714-5770.

Berkmar High Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members are celebrating children's author Dr. Seuss and the “Read Across America” program by holding a children's book drive through Feb. 27. FBLA members will visit an elementary school and read a Dr. Seuss book, distribute paper Dr. Seuss hats, and share a birthday cake commemorating the 100 year anniversary of Dr. Seuss' birthday. Students will discuss the importance of reading and distribute bookmarks with Dr. Seuss book titles. For more information, call Diana Preston 678-924-5328.

Sweetwater Middle is sponsoring a Reading Enhancement Program, which incorporates reading strategies and skills with computer technology in a small-group setting. Sweetwater Middle is able to offer this class as a result of a $37,000 after-school Reading Challenge Grant awarded in November 2003. Transportation is not provided. Students must report to Sweetwater at 8:30 a.m. and be picked-up promptly at 1:00 p.m. For more information, call 770-923-4131.

Beaver Ridge Elementary celebrates Black History month in February with a variety of activities including an essay-writing contest, storytelling, performances by an African American Dance Troupe on Feb. 20, and a skit of "Uncle Jed's Barbershop," scheduled for Feb. 27. Also, to encourage student research, the media center is sponsoring a Black History “Question & Answer of the Day” contest. For more information, call 770-447-6307.

4-H representatives presented organizational skills to Beaver Ridge Elementary 5th graders in January. In addition, students began ADVANCE, a seven-week personal safety awareness program, in which students learn about making good lifestyle choices. The graduation ceremony will take place March 1. For more information, call 770-447-6307.

Kids' Health, Inc., brought a fitness van to Beaver Ridge Elementary and presented health lessons to students. The faculty joined in by committing to a 10 week wellness program. More than 50 teachers and staff members will participate in the competition. Points are earned for healthy behavior such as drinking water, eating fruits and veggies, and exercising. For more information, call 770-447-6307.

Sweetwater Middle has teamed with the Gwinnett Gladiators to encourage students to read. "Students Learn And Prepare (SLAP) Shots” is a program sponsored by Suwanee Dental Care, which allows students to earn a ticket to the Gwinnett Gladiator’s home game on March 9. To earn a ticket, students must read and report on three books between Jan. 26 and Feb. 24. In conjunction with the SLAP Shots program, Sweetwater Middle is participating in Battle of the Books, a reading competition between language arts classes. For more information, call 770-447-6307.

G.H. Hopkins Elementary's after-school winter tutoring sessions will begin on Feb. 16. The program meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. through April 19. For more information, call 770-564-2661.

Students may register online for the fourth mini-session at Buchanan High School of Technology at The fourth mini-session begins Mar. 22. For more information, call 770-326-8000.

February 17 is National PTA Founders Day.

March is Music in Our Schools Month, National Middle Level Education Month, and Youth Art Month.

Newspaper in Education Week and Exceptional Children’s Week starts March 1.

March 2 is Read Across America Day.

National School Breakfast Week starts March 8.

The next regular meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education will be held at 7 p.m., March 11, 2004, at Lawrenceville East, located at 723 Hi-Hope Road in Lawrenceville. Prior to the regular meeting, a public forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. to allow persons not on the agenda an opportunity to address the Board.

The following Gwinnett schools will hold Local School Council Meetings during February. Call the local school for the time and meeting place.