News You Can Use - 05/22/2006

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
05/22/2006 - 05/28/2006

Four GCPS students advanced to National PTA Reflections competition. State winners were Justin Thongsouk of Duncan Creek Elementary, also a National PTA Award of Merit winner; Timothy Levengood of Trickum Middle, also a National PTA Award of Excellence winner; Sarah Park of Chattahoochee Elementary; and Monica Huynh of Berkmar High. For more information, call the local schools.

Thirteen GCPS teachers were named by Wal-Mart as Teachers of the Year. The teachers are Kimberly Ashe of Duncan Creek Elementary, Brian Segool of Rock Springs Elementary, Alison Crossman of Berkmar High, Isabel Krauth of Sweetwater Middle, Tawanda Lewis of Dr. M.H. Mason Jr. Elementary, Crystal Wessells of Cedar Hill Elementary, Tiffany Pruitt and Rebecca McClellan, both of Gwin Oaks Elementary, Susan Murrah of Brookwood High, Katrina Kyser of Partee Elementary, Jane Bostwick of Trickum Middle, Patrick Yaggy of North Gwinnett High, and Billy Ray Davis of Meadowcreek High. For more information, call the local schools.

Thomas Pulliam of Grayson High has been awarded the DECA Award of Excellence for his project entered in the DECA International Competition held in Dallas, Tx. Thomas developed a business plan for an entrepreneurial business venture, and presented the plan to a panel of judges from the business sector. Only two students from Georgia received this award for the Entrepreneurship Participating Event. Additionally, Thomas will serve as Georgia DECA Vice President of Communication and Public Relations for the 2006-07 school year. For more information, call Bob O’Keefe at 770-554-7810.

Ana Solano of Lilburn Elementary has been named Georgia Cultural Educator of the Year presented by the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program. For more information, call 770-921-7707.

Brenda Anderson of Sycamore Elementary and Dr. Jim Curtiss of Margaret Winn Holt Elementary were recognized at the state convention as 2006 Georgia PTA Outstanding Principals. They were presented their awards at the Georgia PTA Centennial Gala Banquet on May 6. For more information, call the local schools.

Eight GCPS schools have been ranked among the nation's best public high schools by Newsweek magazine based on how many students take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests. The two programs are considered the most academically challenging courses high school students can take. Gwinnett's noted high schools along with their ranking are: North Gwinnett (557) Duluth High (598), Norcross High (650), Brookwood High (717), Peachtree Ridge High (763), Parkview High (1,009), Collins Hill High (1,032), and Dacula High (1,158). For more information, visit

Cameron Cheek of Mill Creek High won the boys State AAAAA championship in pole vaulting. He set a new state AAAAA record for a 15'7'' vault. Mill Creek’s Ryan Robinson placed in the top 10 in the state AAAAA shot put. Cameron will be honored on June 1 at Westminster High by the Atlanta Track Club. For more information, call 678-714-5850.

Lynnette Swanson of Oakland School was awarded the Jim Mora Award as the Georgia Special Olympics Coach of the Season. For more information, call 770-513-6800.

J.C. Magill Elementary was honored as a National PTA Parent Involvement School of Excellence.
The Peachtree Ridge High 2005 yearbook, sponsored by Debbie McAfee, won several awards in this year’s competition. The 2005 Paragon: Falling Into Place, won the following honors:
- National Scholastic Press Association– First Class Rating with Two Marks of Distinction in the areas of Design and Photography. The yearbook earned 3,680 out of a possible 4,000 points, equaling 92%.
- Columbia Scholastic Press Association– Silver medal.
- Georgia Student Press Association– Superior/1st Place
In addition to these awards, this book was featured in Taylor Publishing Company’s Yearbook Yearbook. This is a book of award-winning layouts and designs used as models by schools throughout the country. The Paragon has been featured in this publication for two consecutive years. Taylor Publishing also has marked the 2006 book as a “National Sample Book,” based on the success of the 2005 book. Over 50 samples will be shipped to sales reps all over the country and used as a teaching tool for other schools.
For more information, call 678-957-3100.

The Berkmar High Competition Choir participated in a national music festival in Orlando and was named “Grand Champion.” In addition, the women's chorus, large mixed chorus, and small chamber choir each won 1st place in their divisions. For more information, call Diana Preston at 678-245-3467 or Jan Baker at 678-924-5380.

Berkmar High student Monica Huynh won 1st place in poetry in the Perimeter College Writing Contest. Other Berkmar winners included 2nd place winners Thomas Peter Cantrell in fiction and Adriana Valencia in essay. Jaleesa Jackson won 3rd place in poetry. Berkmar was named Outstanding High School. For more information, Diana Preston at 678-245-3467 or Jan Baker at 678-924-5380.

Julie Souther of Lilburn Elementary has been selected from among 150 applicants to receive a 2006 educational mini-grant from the Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton Counties. For more information, call 770-921-7707.

The Norcross Elementary chess team coached by Ken Almon, and the Summerour Middle chess team, coached by Leslie Fowler, both won 1st place in their respective divisions at the Gwinnett County Scholastic Chess tournament in April. For more information, call the local school.

Two GCPS student recently were recognized with environmental scholarships. Jeffrey Freiberg of Norcross High received a $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful. Bonnie Greenwood of Parkview High received a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the Gwinnett Soil and Water Conservation District. For more information, call 770/822-5187.

Students at Mill Creek High will honor this year’s graduates on May 19 at 8 a.m. during the Senior Walk, led by Principal Jim Markham. Classrooms will empty into the halls to congratulate and say good bye to the seniors as they walk down the halls of the school wearing caps and gowns. For more information, call 678-714-5850.

The students who ride bus route 16 to and from J.E. Richards Middle collected DVDs, cards, toiletries, games, cookies, snacks, and pictures of themselves, and sent them to a unit stationed in Iraq at Christmas. On May 22 at 9:15 a.m., one of the soldiers, SPC Keith Weathers, will pay a visit to the students and driver and present a certificate of appreciation to them. The students will present Specialist Weathers with a banner and ribbon. Keith Weathers is the grandson of GCPS transportation employee Faye Watson. For more information, call 770-995-7133.

Charles Brant Chesney Elementary fifth grade students will participate in the annual “Moving Up” ceremony on May 23 at 11 a.m. Chesney’s fifth grade class has a tradition of leaving behind a gift to the school as part of the ceremony. Thanks to generous donations from Pike’s Family Nursery and the Reynolds Crossing Kroger, the fifth grade class was able to plant a memorial tree and flowers on school grounds. Chesney students invited Brant Chesney’s mother to the ceremony for a formal dedication of the Brant Chesney Memorial Tree. Captain David Dusik of the Gwinnett County Fire Department also will be present at the ceremony to donate a display case that he built for the school, in honor of his former friend and colleague. The Brant Chesney display case will house Mr. Chesney’s uniform and helmet as well as school awards. Mr. Chesney, a firefighter, was killed in the line of duty. For more information, call 678-542-2300.

K.E. Taylor Elementary 3rd grade classes have joined together and formed a business selling snacks to the students in the school. This was a culmination to the students’ economics unit. After repaying the start-up loan, the classes earned more than $550 in profits. The students decided to donate the money to the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation. For more information, call Sara Sobel at 770-338-4680.

Norton Elementary 2nd graders conducted a “Welcome Home” celebration on May 16 for Brian Cagle who is returning from Iraq. Students dressed in red, white, and blue and held flags donated by the VFW. Students sang three patriotic songs, and then Mr. Cagle shared a presentation featuring photos from Iraq. Mr. Cagle is a graduate of South Gwinnett High who resides in Gainesville. For more information, call 770-985-1933.

Berkmar High held its 2nd annual Jazz and Arts Festival in April, a free event open to the public, that promotes school and community awareness of the outstanding programs at the school and throughout the Berkmar cluster. The festival showcased fine arts displays and provided musical performances by the UGA Super Combo, the Victory Jazz Orchestra, and Berkmar’s Show Choir, Jazz Band, and Orchestra. For more information, call 770-921-3636.

“GCPS Focus” This week on “GCPS Focus”… an emergency drill teams school officials with county agencies to keep students safe, environmental education in Gwinnett, the class of 2006 and this year’s retirees move on to new adventures, and summer programs encourage reading for Gwinnett students. This 30-min. program airs May 15-20 at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 11 p.m.

“New Tools for Parents: Getting Informed & Getting Involved - Education News Parents Can Use” The May edition of “Education News” will highlight the latest tools for parents under No Child Left Behind, and provide tips, resources, and advice on how parents— especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds— can access valuable information on the performance of their child’s school. This 60-min. program airs May 22-27 at 2 p.m.

“English... Yes, I Can! (Series 1)” English...Yes, I Can (Series 1) is a video telecourse designed to teach beginning English literacy skills to adult learners. Series 1 is scheduled to air through May 23 on GCPS TV. A new 60-minute program airs daily Monday–Thursday at 9 p.m. and again at 1 a.m., with the week’s shows rebroadcast on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

“Spanish for Educators” This GCPS TV original series is an introduction to the Spanish language and is tailored especially for educators and other school employees. However, the community is invited to watch and learn as well. The 10-part series will air in hour-long segments through May 28. Each week, a new show will premiere at 8 p.m. on Monday, then be rebroadcast in that same time slot Tuesday through Sunday.

Tune in to Gwinnett County Public Schools’ educational access channel for education programs and information. TV cable channels and providers include:
Adelphia on Channel 20 (Ch. 97 without converter) BellSouth on Channel 21
Charter on Channel 22 Comcast on Channel 24
For more information, call the GCPS Broadcast and Distance Learning Department at 678-985-5233, or e-mail A list of this week’s programming may be found on the GCPS Web site--

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Three new elementary schools are due to open in August 2007. They will be located in the Dacula Cluster, Mill Creek Cluster, and Grayson/Dacula Cluster. Naming committees have been formed within the clusters where the new schools will be built to develop a list of recommended names to submit to the superintendent. Individuals and organizations of Gwinnett County may submit names to the committees. Information on submitting names is available on the GCPS Web site and at the local elementary schools within the clusters where the new schools will be built.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, National Sight-Saving Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

GCPS high school students may register online (through June 3) for both face-to-face Summer School classes and the summer session of Gwinnett County Online Campus. The 2006 face-to-face summer school session for high school students will take place June 7-July 11. Classes are available at Brookwood High, Collins Hill High, and Norcross High. Online classes will be conducted June 6-July 12. Check the GCPS Web site for more information on dates, fees, and available classes.

Remaining Dates in the FY2007 Budget Process
Monday, June 5 First public hearing on millage rate, 7 p.m., Board Room, ISC
Monday, June 12 2nd public hearing on millage rate, 11:45 a.m., Board Room, ISC
Monday, June 12 3rd public hearing on millage rate and final adoption, 7 p.m., Board Room, ISC, 7 p.m., Board Room, ISC

Visit for information on graduation dates and high school summer school.

Early release is May 22-24 for high school student final exams.

May 24 is the last day of school for Gwinnett students.

Memorial Day on May 29 is a systemwide holiday and all locations are closed.

June 2 is the deadline to apply for openings on the GEMS Oversight Committee. The committee meets annually for one to two days to review input from educators and community members on suggested revisions, deletions, and additions to the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. The group’s recommendations are presented to the superintendent for adoption by the Board of Education. Applications are available online.

The next regular meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education will be held June 22, 2006, at 7 p.m., at the Instructional Support Center, located at 437 Old Peachtree Rd. NW in Suwanee.

The following Gwinnett schools will hold Local School Council Meetings during May. Call the local school for the time and meeting place.
Bethesda Elementary
Britt Elementary
Cedar Hill Elementary
Centerville Elementary
Chesney Elementary
Corley Elementary
Creekland Middle
Duncan Creek Elementary
Fort Daniel Elementary
Give Center
Grayson High
Harbins Elementary
Lanier Middle
Mason Elementary
Mountain Park Elementary
Norcross Elementary
North Gwinnett
Osborne Elementary
Radloff Middle
Riverside Elementary
Simonton Elementary
Simpson Elementary
Snellville Middle
South Gwinnett
Stripling Elementary
Sweetwater Middle