Saturday, May 30, 2009

Young Fayette County Artists Inspired by Tut Exhibit

Students take a break to pose outside of the ancient Egyptian tomb they built shortly after visiting the Tut exhibit in Atlanta.

After visiting Tutankhamen, the Golden King and the Great Pharaohs exhibit at the Civic Center, seventh graders at Bennett’s Mill Middle School in Fayette County decided to share their experience with the rest of the school.

They built their own ancient Egyptian tomb out of papermache, clay and paint under the direction of art teacher Melissa Raymer. The tomb features a life-size sarcophagus (funeral receptacle), ceramic canopic jars (used by ancient Egyptians during the rituals of mummification), coffinettes (containers for organs of a mummy), cartouches (name plates) featuring the student’s names in hieroglyphics, and giant paintings of Ancient Egyptian gods covering the walls.

Thanks to the seventh graders’ hard work and creativity, other students at the school who were not able to attend the Tut exhibit still got to experience the fascinating culture and customs of the ancient Egyptians.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

DAR Lays Wreath in Memory of American Patriots on Memorial Day


Fayette County residents Sybil Hill, Susan Sloan and Phyllis King were among those who laid wreaths at the National Memorial Day Service in Marietta on Memorial Day. Mrs. Hill, who served America as a Rosie during World War II, was provided with honored seating at the ceremony. The ladies are members of the James Waldrop Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in Fayetteville.



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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Father in Baghdad to Watch Fayette County Triplets Graduate Via Live Broadcast

An Air Force captain serving in Baghdad will get to watch his triplet sons graduate from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville in real time on Friday thanks to NBC and local network affiliate 11Alive.

Capt. William Cooke probably thought he would only get to see this milestone occasion documented through photos or videotape after the fact, but thanks to his commanding officer and some diligent work from the school’s staff, he will witness the monumental event over the Internet as it unfolds.

Capt. Cooke is not the only one receiving a special gift on graduation day. His sons, Cory, William and Michael, will see a broadcast message from their dad aired during the ceremony. NBC in Baghdad is handling the details.

“It should be an amazing evening,” says Suzanne Spatz, secretary to Principal Greg Stillions.

Spatz says the idea of having a live broadcast of the graduation started last Thursday when Capt. Cooke’s commanding officer called making the request. The school’s broadcasting teacher, Carolyn Smith, knew a live feed was beyond the scope of her students’ abilities so she turned to Donna Lowry, education reporter for 11Alive, for assistance.

“I had done a story earlier this year on some of her students who had won a grant. I guess she contacted me because of the connection we made while I was doing the story,” says Lowry.

After hearing the request, Lowry immediately contacted NBC network officials to see if there was a way to fulfill the live broadcast request. After many phone calls and email messages, Lowry finally received word on Monday that the network had agreed to help.

NBC will broadcast the entire graduation ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m., through a live online feed that is being provided by 11Alive. There will be a link on the 11Alive website (www.11alive.com) for anyone who wants to watch. It is hoped that NBC in Baghdad will be able to be onsite with Capt. Cooke to film his reaction in real time as he watches his sons graduate.

11Alive spent Wednesday filming Baccalaureate practice and interviewing the triplets. The story on the Baccalaureate aired Wednesday evening. The station announced Tuesday evening about the live stream and featured an interview with the triplets. Both stories can be viewed on 11Alive.com.

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Fayette County Students Earn College-Sponsored National Merit Scholarships

Emory, UGA and Georgia Tech have awarded National Merit Scholarships to three Fayette County students who will begin studying at their institutions in the fall.

David C. Fratto, McIntosh High, has received a scholarship from Emory University where he will major in business finance; Joseph D. Morrow, Starr’s Mill High, received a UGA scholarship, he plans to major in mathematics education; and Ryan O’Shaughnessy, Starr’s Mill High, is the recipient of a scholarship from Georgia Tech where he will major in biomedical engineering.

The college-sponsored scholarships provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. These three students are among 8,200 graduating seniors nationwide who will receive National Merit Scholarships.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fruitful DNA Extraction

Students Brandon Blanchette (left) and Joe Adamson watch as the DNA separates from the strawberry mixture they prepared while UGA graduate student Kameka Johnson looks on

What do strawberries and bananas have in common with Fayette County's Whitewater Middle School students? The answer is DNA. As it turns out, the genetic material of the fruits is very similar to that of humans.

This was just one fascinating fact that approximately 290 seventh graders learned as they participated in a DNA extraction lab conducted by graduate students from the Georgia Plant Scholars Program of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Plant Pathology Department.

Using regular household items such as coffee filters, salt, dishwashing liquid, water and rubbing alcohol, students learned how to extract DNA from bananas and strawberries. What once took months to complete in a laboratory, took the students less than an hour.

Here is how the process works. The fruit is mashed to breakdown its cell walls and then mixed with salt and dish soap. The soap dissolves the fatty part of the cell wall and the nuclear membrane while the salt breaks up the protein chains that bind around the nucleic acids. This chemical reaction allows liquid containing DNA to pass through the coffee filter and into a container. When rubbing alcohol is added to the container, fine white strands of DNA appear. The DNA forms whitish stringy material that can be spooled onto a toothpick.

UGA’s DNA extraction labs are in high demand around the state. It took science teacher Daniece Post two years to get one at Whitewater using some connections she made at a conference.

“I participated in a UGA workshop in Athens and met Kisha Shelton, the program coordinator of Georgia Plant Science Scholars. We realized we had worked with some of the same professors during our internships and I asked if she would be willing to come to Fayetteville to do a lab. We have worked for two years arranging our schedules for the visit,” says Post.

The lab experiment was used to reinforce the Life Science Georgia Performance Standards that includes levels of cellular organization, cell structure and function, and the role of genes and chromosomes, as well as introduce students to careers in areas not commonly associated with science.
Michaela Phillips (left) and Rocio Obregon prepare to extract DNA from a banana
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Bennett's Mill Students Create Books for Uganda School

Students in Joliene Price’s language arts class show off the grammar books they created for Onono Memorial College in Gulu, Uganda

Approximately 550 student-created instructional books from Bennett’s Mill Middle School in Fayetteville are being used by children at Onono Memorial College, a school near Gulu, Uganda that serves students from 12-24 years of age.

Through the Books of Hope program, every student at the school wrote and illustrated books on English grammar and other educational topics. Art teacher Melissa Raymer spearheaded the project with help from the school’s English teachers.

“I thought this would be a wonderful learning experience for both teachers and students because the school desperately needs the books, among countless other things. Our students can learn a great deal about writing, Africa and conditions of children around the world through this program,” Raymer explains.

The people of the Uganda region have had their lives torn apart for over 20 years in a vicious civil war that has claimed the children as the primary victims. The children who have survived face many challenges, one of them being making up for lost years of schooling. Unfortunately, most of the schools do not have resources to adequately serve them; especially needed are books on English, a language skill they need to learn to become productive.

Books of Hope is a service-learning program where US schools are matched to a school in Uganda. Students write, illustrate and bind books that are sent to the sponsored school to be used as instructional materials for their classrooms.

“Even in the midst of a recession, most of us have nothing to complain about compared to the issues faced by the children of Africa. Our books are gifts of friendship and symbols of hope to children who, for a long time, were forgotten,” says Raymer.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Starr's Mill Honor Flight Fundraiser Doubles Expectations

Social Studies students at Starr’s Mill High School in Fayette County were determined to send more World War II veterans this year on a one-day trip to see their memorial in Washington, D.C.

Last year the students raised $2,400 for Honor Flight Fayette, an organization that provides free trips to the memorial for WWII veterans. The trips are funded through donations.

The timing couldn’t have been better with the two-week fundraiser coming on the heels of a unit on WWII. After teachers explained what Honor Flight does and what it means to veterans to visit the memorial, students were asked to spread the word to family and friends and request donations. The school also had one military hat day where students paid $1 to wear a military hat all day.

“Our goal was to raise as much as last year,” says social studies teacher Charlotte Robinson. “We were amazed that we were able to double it. I think it helped that many of the students remembered the fundraiser and visit from the veterans the year before.”

Honor Flight Fayette brought a group of WWII veterans to the school in May to accept the $4,800 donation from the students. The veterans told the students incredible stories of survival, triumphs and grief.

“The students were in awe hearing the stories first-hand from men who survived D-Day and other battles. The students understand that many of these men were their age or close to it while fighting this war,” says Robinson.

“I was personally brought to tears when the veterans thanked us for Honor Flight. I said the money for Honor Flight is one small way we can attempt to say thank you to them for their sacrifice and bravery.”

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Quilt of Courage Honors Parents of Cancer

Laurel and her father, Mike, share a moment following the unveiling of the Quilt of Courage

One by one they came to her office to seek comfort, solace, a reassurance that they would make it through one of the most difficult times in their young lives. In a short span of time, 13 students from various grade levels came to talk to Rising Starr Middle School Counselor Janice McLeroy about their same situation; all had parents who were battling cancer.

Helping students cope with their parents’ illnesses was not new to McLeroy; she had listened and talked to students dealing with these issues many times. But in all of her years as a counselor, she had never had this many dealing with cancer at one time.

“I was overwhelmed. Usually I have one or two but I have never had this many in one year. As the list continued to grow, I became very burdened thinking about what I could do to help them.”

McLeroy knew her office was a safe haven for the students, a place where they could escape and not talk about cancer. She knew a traditional support group was out of the question. Instead, the students needed an activity that would be meaningful and help them channel their emotions.

“I saw a car commercial on TV where the dealer was raffling a quilt to benefit breast cancer. Then the idea hit me,” said McLeroy.

From the commercial came the Quilt of Courage, a 5 X 7 foot quilt created by the students to honor and memorialize their parents who are battling or who have battled cancer.

Meeting after school, each student designed a square that represented his or her parent. PTO volunteers Cynthia Crew, Lynda Montgomery and Fiona Dennis helped the students with the design and sewing of the quilt. It features a total of 48 squares, each tied with ribbon so that future students of parents with cancer can add to it if they wish.

Each completed square has a colored ribbon that corresponds to the type of cancer battled: pink, breast cancer (7 squares); purple, pancreatic cancer (2 squares); light blue, prostate cancer (one square); gray, brain cancer (one square); orange, leukemia (one square). The squares represent two fathers and 10 mothers.

An unveiling ceremony was held outside of the media center on May 19 where the quilt is on permanent display. A total of 12 families were in attendance.

“This quilt is to honor you and the hard work and courage you have done and shown. I told your children that today would be filled with emotions, some happy, some sad. It is OK to cry, it is OK to laugh; this is a journey and we are in it together with you,” McLeroy told the guests.

Before the unveiling, the students conducted a silent presentation with each holding a card with a word on one side representing an aspect of cancer and their own definition of what the word meant to them on the other side. Laurel Jenkins, who lost her mother to breast cancer in February, carried the word “Strength” with the definition “To stay standing when life tries to knock you down.” Austin Smith, who lost his mother in October 2008 to pancreatic cancer, chose the word “Sacrifice” and defined it as “Giving up something for something that is more important.”

A pin drop could have been heard as Laurel and Austin, who have been friends since elementary school, unveiled the quilt. The parents stood still, looking on until Principal Len Patton, a breast cancer survivor whose grandchildren designed a square for her, gently encouraged them to go to the quilt and find their square.

“I considered it a privlidge for me to sit with these students in their pain. I probably learned more from them than they from me. When tragedy strikes such as this, the parents are busy taking care of the situation: changes in finances, household chores and routines, medical appointments, meals, etc. that so often the emotional needs of the students go unobserved. Life passes by so quickly while we just do life. This was simply my way of helping the families,” McLeroy said as she reflected on the unprecedented year she and the students had encountered.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Honor Flight Veterans have Mail Call on Flight to DC

Bella Vransevich, Mrs. Springer, Abby Thompson show the V-mail letters written to the veterans


Thanks to students in Jo Springers' social studies classes at Huddleston Elementary in Peachtree City, veterans traveling to Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight Fayette in October, November or May this school year received an extra surprise.

The students wrote letters in "V-mail" style, which was the way they were written and mailed during WWII, and they were passed out during "mail call" while members of the greatest generation were in flight to the nation's capitol. Questions ranged from "were you scared", "did you miss your family", "were any of your friends or family killed" and "were you injured" to inquiries about where they fought and what branch of the service they were in. Their questions showed a genuine concern for the veterans as well as curiosity and interest about the people and events during that tumultuous time in our nation's history.

Mrs. Springer stated that the students have received replies from many of the veterans, as well as visits to their classrooms. She also said they all felt they had "touched history, and what the children did was truly a labor of love". Mrs. Springer is also proud of her students' vast knowledge of a period of time during which their grandfathers or great-grandfathers were vital participants.

As a board member of Honor Flight Fayette, Mrs. Springer knows what an undertaking it is to prepare for and carry out these "missions" to D.C. in honor of the men and women of World War II. In fact, Honor Flight Fayette, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, exists solely to raise monies for these trips so that veterans can visit their memorial at no charge to them, and no veteran is allowed to donate toward this cause. And, because we are losing these brave citizens at the rate of 1,200 per day in this country, time to honor them is of the essence. The Fayette County branch of the national Honor Flight organization has lost several veterans already, some of whom were scheduled to go on a flight they never got to make.

If you would like to be a guardian, volunteer or to donate to this endeavor please go to honorflightfayette.org Applications for veterans can also be obtained at this site or you can call 770-719-1924.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Looking for Something to do This Summer in Fayette County?

If you're looking for that special something to do this summer and you have a heartfelt desire to make a difference in the lives of others, then the perfect opportunity awaits you at Hospice Advantage.

Hospice Advantage in Fayetteville is seeking volunteers and/or interns to join their team. Volunteers assist families and patients who are living with a life limiting illness. Training is provided. Areas of service include companionship, caregiver relief, community outreach, and office assistance.

If you are interested or would like further information please contact Hospice Advantage Fayetteville at 678-817-4180.

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Young Fayette County Authors Win at Competition

Three possible up and coming Fayette County authors have been recognized through the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition.

Tyler S. Patrick, first grade, Hood Avenue Primary; Ian Fertig, second grade, Braelinn Elementary; and Laura Wu, fifth grade, Kedron Elementary all had winning entries at the Griffin RESA district level, which includes Butts, Henry, Lamar, Newton, Pike, Spalding and Thomaston-Upson counties.

The contest, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education, is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. One winner is selected from each grade level. Any type of writing can be entered. Entries may be short stories, poetry, essays, journals, personal narratives, reports or any other original student writing. District winners advance to compete at the state level.

The purposes of the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition are to encourage students to develop writing that represents their best efforts, provide a context for schools to support and celebrate the writing successes of all students, and encourage and recognize student achievement in writing throughout Georgia.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Starr's Mill HS Economics Team Places Third at Nationals

The finale of the Starr’s Mill High economics team ride to the National Economic Challenge Championship Finals in New York City ended with a third place finish at their first national competition.

Team members Keegan Christensen, Joseph Morrow, Ben Payne and Kendall Reeves squared off against three other high school teams from Minnesota, Indiana and Hawaii. The team competed in the David Ricardo division for students enrolled in single semester general economics classes. Economics teacher Mark DeCourcy coached the team.

Over 8,000 high school students in 34 teams competed this spring to advance to the championship series. Starr’s Mill’s road to the finals began when they won the state competition in March and then took the championship at the regional level in April.

The National Economics Challenge is an academic tournament that tests high school students both individually and as teams on their economic knowledge and problem solving skills. It is a competition demanding both critical thinking and teamwork. The challenge was established in 2000 with the support of the Goldman Sachs Foundation in a signature partnership with the Council for Economic Education. It is the only national economics competition for high school students.

Prizes are awarded to first and second place winners at the national and regional level. As the regional champions, each team member and DeCourcy received a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. Additionally, as the state winners, Georgia House Representative John Yates drafted HR 1049 to honor the school, its team and DeCourcy for their achievement.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memorial Day at Dixieland in Fayette County

Dixieland Fun Park in Fayetteville is proud to offer an amazing Memorial Day special, including FREE admission into the park for any military or armed service members with a valid ID, as well as a 10% discount for their families. The park is open Memorial Day from 11am-10pm and everyone is welcome to enjoy the festivities.

Additionally on Memorial Day, Dixieland Fun Park will officially present its first ever in-park entertainment show. A short Western Comedy will be featured in the ALL NEW Dixie Square. Miner Mike’s Gold, featuring Miner Mike and Ms. Dixie herself, is sure to provide fun for the whole family. The new show comes complete with a water explosion to cool down our front row guests.

It is the park’s new motto to offer “Fantastic Family Fun at an Affordable Price.” When compared to other parks in the metro Atlanta area, Dixieland offers as much fun and entertainment as any other, but at 50% of the cost.

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SCORE Comes to Fayette County


The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce office in Fayetteville will be the home of a brand new SCORE chapter. SCORE is a 45 year old resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Its mostly retired counselors offer free small business counseling and low cost workshops to both startup and in-business clients.

Nationally, SCORE is an organization of almost 11,000 volunteers in 375 chapters in the U.S. serving over 500,000 clients yearly. The Atlanta Chapter is an organization of over 75 counselors located in 15 offices throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.

The new Fayette County chapter will operate from the Fayette Chamber office at 200 Courthouse Square in Fayetteville. The SCORE counselors will schedule appointments from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Fridays. To make an appointment for counseling or attend one of the chapter’s workshops, visit www.scoreatlanta.org and register. A counselor will call to set an appointment.

The opening of the SCORE chapter in collaboration with the Fayette Chamber and Fayette Encore graduates represents a golden opportunity for small businesses in the area to obtain professional guidance in the operation of their businesses.

The Chamber’s collaboration with SCORE provides another tool for Fayette County businesses to use to help them survive and thrive in the current economic climate. For more information on how the Chamber helps strengthen local businesses, contact their office at 770.461.9983 or visit online at www.FayetteChamber.org.

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Fayette County's Booth Middle School Clinches Top Five Finish at National Science Competition

The J.C. Booth Middle School Science Olympiad team finished fifth in the nation at the National Science Olympiad competition held this past Saturday at Augusta State University.

Nationally revered as a tough competitor, the team has placed in the top 6 at the national competition for 12 years and has nine first place victories to its name. Sixty 15-member teams from schools across the nation competed in the 25th annual event. There were 46 competition categories spanning the sciences from chemistry, biology and physics to engineering, robotics and astronomy.

This year marked the Peachtree City team's 16th trip to the national competition. In order to get an invitation, a team must place first or second at the state competition. Booth won the state championship this year medaling in 19 out of 23 events and beating Fulton Science Academy, which placed second.

This was also a milestone year for the school’s Science Olympiad team as their longtime coach Mary Wilde retires at the end of the school year. Wilde has coached the team for 22 years; she has been a teacher for over 40 years.

Other team coaches include Booth teachers Tammy Pakulski, Bo Hill, Matt Jackson and Jeff Eller, along with numerous parents who volunteer their time every year to help the team prepare for competitions.

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Fayette County Graduation Test Results Remain High

Fayette County high school students continue to hold onto their high pass rates on the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT), including the English and science exams that are aligned to the state’s more rigorous curriculum.

In fact, more students scored in the “honors” category in the English and science portions, up 4 points to 21 percent and up 2 points to 22 percent, respectively, over 2008.

The county continues to show much higher pass rates than the state in all subjects: English Language Arts, 96 percent (Fayette) and 87 percent (state); mathematics, 96 percent (Fayette) and 91 percent (state); science, 94 percent (Fayette) and 85 percent (state); social studies, 94 percent (Fayette) and 82 percent (state).

Pass rates also increased in most subgroups with English Language Learners posting higher scores in all subjects. The most dramatic increases were in English, up 23 points to 90 percent; science, up 24 points to 69 percent and social studies, up 35 points to 64 percent.

The pass rate for Hispanic students rose in both English and science, up 7 points to 90 percent and up four points to 87 percent, respectively, and the pass rate for African American students rose in social studies, up two points to 90 percent.

The GHSGT is given to high school students for the first time in the spring of their junior year. All four portions of the test, plus the Georgia High School Writing Test, must be passed in order for a student to receive a full diploma from a Georgia public school. Students can retake the GHSGT as many times as they like if they do not pass specific exams.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Crabapple Lane Media Specialist Leaves Her Mark


Retiring Media Specialist Peggy James has put Fayette County's Crabapple Lane Elementary School media center on the map in Georgia.

The elementary school’s media center was named “exemplary” last year by the Georgia Department of Education, an honor that is given to only one school per year. Now, as James gets ready to move on to another chapter in her life, she brings recognition to the school once again as the 2009 Georgia Library Media Association’s Library Media Specialist of the Year.

“Peggy is the reason our students rush to the media center each day. She has transformed our media center into a forest, pirate’s ship, beach in the Bahamas, barnyard with livestock, and a wedding chapel,” says Principal Doe Evans. “She involves our students by having them transport themselves to these far way places. She consistently searches for ways to make her teaching more interesting and informative.”

The award is given for individual excellence in the library media field through service to students, teachers and community at the K-12 levels. The winner must show that she has gone above and beyond what is expected in a normal media program by demonstrating use of innovative techniques, promotion of information technology utilization and literacy, promotion of reading and literature, involvement of parents and/or the community in the library media program, and working collaboratively with the school’s teachers.

As the state winner, James will receive $200, a commemorative plaque and a one-year membership to the Georgia Library Media Association.

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Fayetteville Intermediate Wins Environmental Competition in Atlanta

The effort of some Fayetteville Intermediate students to get Fayette County citizens to conserve water will continue thanks to a scholarship from Keep Atlanta Beautiful.

The school is one of three grand prize $1,000 winners of the Stepping Lightly in Atlanta competition. The contest was open to students around the metro Atlanta area who are implementing projects in their communities that demonstrate environmental stewardship. Projects were evaluated on their innovation and community involvement.

Third, fourth and fifth grade students in the gifted and talented program at Fayetteville Intermediate were concerned with the on-going drought in Georgia, so in 2007 they invented the Flush Flow Fixer. The device is a full water bottle that is placed in the toilet tank to displace water, thus conserving water with every flush.

The school partnered with the Fayetteville Home Depot, which supplied water bottles and toilets for demonstrations and allowed them to set up on a Saturday and pass out the bottles and valuable information to the community.

Executive Director Peggy Denby of Keep Atlanta Beautiful will present the $1,000 check to the students at the school on May 20. In addition, they will also receive an official City of Atlanta Proclamation for Stewardship.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fayette County Pre-K Teachers Selected for State Mentoring Program

Three of the Fayette County school system’s finest Pre-K teachers have been selected by Georgia to be mentors to first-time teachers in the Georgia Pre-K Lottery program.

Margaret Davis, Crabapple Lane Elementary; Shelly Jones, Peachtree City Elementary; and Dana Popiel, Oak Grove Elementary, were chosen by Bright from the Start, the organization that oversees the state’s Pre-K program, as three of the 50 experienced teachers making up this year’s Mentor Teacher Program. The mentor program is part of the New Teacher Institute that helps new lottery teachers throughout the state learn the skills necessary to teach four-year old children.

The mentor program is open to experienced lottery Pre-K teachers. Applicants are required to submit a professional portfolio showcasing their classroom skills. Fayette County's three mentor teachers have a combined 25 years of experience in working with Pre-K children.

“These Pre-K teachers strive to go above and beyond the duties and responsibilities required of the teachers in the Georgia Pre-K program. They have traveled around the state this year to help many teachers as well as served as best practice sites for our own teachers,” says Clarice Howard, who oversees the school system’s lottery program.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Fayette County Student Honored for Excellence in Writing

A Fayette County middle school student is among a handful nationwide and one of just two in Georgia to receive a Certificate of Recognition from the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Promising Young Writers Program.

Rising Starr Middle eighth grader Sydney Seaman is among 163 eighth grade students nationwide to receive recognition out of 487 nominated this year. English teacher Suzanne Carey nominated Sydney based on her display of effective writing. Students were required to submit two pieces of work, one themed-based and the other a “best” writing or excerpt from a “best” piece.

This year’s theme was “Making Meaning of a Place.” Sydney chose to write about a special moment when she stood by her best friend who had been diagnosed with leukemia.

“She tells the story in such an incredible way that you feel her emotions as well as her friend’s,” says Carey.

Sydney’s essay graphically describes the day she saw her friend taken away from school by ambulance after being struck with a sudden, severe headache followed by a loss of vision. Later that evening she would learn about her friend’s disease.

“My perfect life has been shattered in one day. I was young and had not experienced something heartbreaking or life shattering at that point. By the end of the day, pieces of my life were scattered all over the floor and I needed to fix them. I needed to adapt,” Sydney wrote.

She talks about the adaptations that both she and her friend had to make during the course of fighting the leukemia. Instead of playing together, they told jokes and played “I Spy.” Sydney, who was only able to visit her friend in the hospital on Saturdays, spent her time trying to make her comfortable by reading and singing to her and getting juice when she was thirsty. She credits her friend for giving her a new sense of compassion and love for others.

“Emma was my best friend and my best teacher. She taught me to see the world in a new way. She taught me to adjust into the most unpleasant of situations. She developed my sense of love and compassion to an incredible extent. She is my pal, my comrade, my sidekick, and my buddy. She is my friend and she gave me the greatest gift. She gave me my most precious moment,” Sydney stated at the end of the essay.

The Promising Young Writers Program was established in 1985 to stimulate and recognize students’ writing talents and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth grade students. Schools nominate students who have demonstrated evidence of effective writing. Papers are judged on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development and style.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“The Old Guy” Graduates with a Clayton State MBA

The first cohort of Clayton State University’s Masters in Business Administration (MBA) graduated on Saturday, May 9. Although all 31 MBA graduates accomplished a notable milestone, none were more notable than that of Fayetteville’s Ernest Coward, at the age of 74, the oldest student to earn a Clayton State MBA.

Long before joining the procession at the University’s spring Commencement ceremonies, Coward was a bit apprehensive about returning to school.

“All these people will be my grandchildren’s age,” he said at the time he matriculated into the first Clayton State MBA cohort. “And I’ll be the old guy.”

Actually, Coward’s history with Clayton State goes back to when the University was still a junior college, when he took courses in computer programming through the Division of Continuing Education.

“I’ve been coming here for years taking community courses,” Coward says.

After originally studying chemistry in Alabama more than 50 years ago, Coward decided to go into the service as the Korean War was ending. However, he promised his mother that he would go back to college.

“I got patriotic one weekend, and joined the Navy flight school,” he says. “I spent four years flying helicopters, and after I came out I joined the Air Force Reserve and flew for 12 years.”

Coward then continued his journey as a manufacturer, producing things like cosmetics, lingerie and gloves. After retired after 38 years in business.

“After I retired and did all the things I wanted to do, played all the golf I wanted to play, I decided that I needed to do something constructive,” he says. “Seven months after I retired I called Clayton State University to ask about the possibility of returning to school. The lady on the phone replied, `if you get me your transcripts you can start in two weeks!’”

As a result, Coward did not have time to back out. Initially he wanted pursue a chemistry degree, however, he learned that the University did not offer that degree. Undaunted, he turned to the School of Business.

“Between Dr. Jacob Chacko, dean of School of Business, and Dr. Michael Deis, director of the MBA program, and my personal instructor, I decided Clayton State University was the place to be,” he says.

Coward was surprised how his fellow MBA candidates migrated towards him, and how interested they were in his past experiences.

“So many of them wanted to hear about how things were many years ago, because I graduated from high school in 1952,” he says. “As you can see, I am no spring chicken.

“Getting back into the gear of things was challenging since I had been out of school for almost 40 years. Refreshing my memory, managing study time, and being ready for a test, those were somewhat challenging.”

However, since Coward had managed to keep up with technology, the University's laptop requirement didn’t hold him back.

“I grew up with computers. I came up during the time when you had to write your own software," he says. "I challenged myself to learn how to work a computer."

Following his graduation, Coward is a strong advocate for the University and the School of Business.

“This campus and professors are great. The School of Business is unbelievable!” he exclaims. “The University is full of professors who have world and academic experience. You get Ivy League schooling for an economical price.

“The most memorable moment for me is how I have been accepted. If Clayton State University offered a doctorate, I would keep going.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Fayette County High Economic Students Win Region Championship


Fayette County High School regional champions (L-R) Jada Bridges, CeCee Chaney and Malarah Cook (far right) celebrate their win with teacher Deborah Rasnake and State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, who served as the banquet’s keynote speaker.

As investors pull their money away from the stock market, some savvy high school students prove that investing is profitable, even in tough economic times.

Three students in Deborah Rasnake’s economics class at Fayette County High School participated in the Georgia Stock Market Game at the beginning of the school year, taking a hypothetical $100,000 and turning a $16,896 profit in a 10-week period. They earned the most money in their region and were crowned region champions. The winning students are Jada Bridges, CeCee Chaney and Malarah Cook. They were honored, along with other regional winners, at a banquet held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta earlier this month.

The Georgia Council on Economic Education sponsors the Stock Market Game each fall and spring semester for elementary through high school students. Students start off with a hypothetical portfolio of $100,000 and for 10 weeks they research publicly traded companies on the Internet, read business publications and crunch numbers to select stocks. The team from each region with the highest portfolio value at the end of the 10 weeks wins.

The Stock Market Game is designed to give teachers a tool for helping students develop a solid understanding of how private enterprise works. Economic education is not just about financial literacy; it’s also about the larger economic forces that affect everyone’s financial circumstance.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

March on Dixie Set for May 16 in Fayetteville


When Georgians hear of a March on Dixie, thoughts immediately go back in time to Sherman's March. Times have changed and now this means Fayette County's own theme park for family fun is ready to give back to the community!

Join in the fun at Dixieland Fun Park in Fayetteville this Saturday at the second annual March on Dixie. In addition to having loads of family fun at a local theme park, Dixieland has committed a portion of the proceeds at the admission gate will be donated to the March of Dimes.

Hours on Saturday: 11 am - 10 pm
Admission: 44 inches or taller $19.00 + Tax
31-43 " Tall or over age 55 $12.00 + Tax
Children under 31" Free with adult purchase of admission
Military 10% off admission price with valid ID

1675 Hwy 85 N
Fayetteville

Fayette Front Page Staff Report

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8th Annual Taste of Fayette May 17th

It’s that time of year again when downtown Fayetteville comes alive with fine art, food, and family fun. This Sunday, May 17, welcomes the 8th Annual Taste of Fayette which showcases local restaurants selling affordable samples of their finest offerings. “Tastes” range from .50 to $3.00 each, so if you just need a snack or you’ve come for a full lunch, they’ve got you covered. Participating vendors this year include The Mooving Café, Taco Mac, Smoothie King, Partner’s Pizza, My Favorite Cookie, Mangarelli’s Pizzeria, Grinds and Wines, Gezzo’s Surf and Grille, Johnny’s New York Pizza, Cool Flavors Italian Ice, Baci Italian Cuisine, and Atlanta Margarita Man. Also returning to defend their crowns are the 2008 “Finest Taste” winner, Longbranch Steakhouse and Seafood, and “Most Amazing Booth” winner, Bugaboo Creek Steak House.

All food is sold on a token system, so be sure to bring your cash to redeem for tokens. While munching on the various tastes, visitors can also stroll through the Non-Food section showcasing a variety of local retail and informational vendors.

This event is designed for the whole family, so be sure to check out the Food Lion Kids Corner with jumps, slides, face painting and Buzzly, the fire safety bee. Also enjoy live entertainment all day with R&B Inc. performing your faves from the 60’s and 70’s.

In an effort to help reduce costs, most of these kids attractions are at reduced prices or even free of charge. Fayetteville Main Street Director, Brian Wismer explained, “I wanted the event to be as affordable as possible for our families; and I know that if the kids are able to have a good time, it is a lot easier for the parents to enjoy.”

The event kicks off at Noon and runs until 5pm. The Taste of Fayette is held at the Gazebo at Stonewall Village in conjunction with the Fayette Fine Art Show on the courthouse lawn, and the Taste of Living History displays at the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife Museum directly across the street.
The Taste of Fayette is presented by Coweta-Fayette EMC, The AT&T Real Yellow Pages, and Fayetteville Main Street. For more info, call 770-719-4173.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Poetic History Made at Huddleston Elementary in Peachtree City


Winners pictured (L-R) Ashley Boyce, Jacob Brachey, Jack Bragg, Hailey Brown, Jack Bukowski, Taela Conlan, Sarah DeNell, Calvin Flowers, Johnna Haskew, Claire Ivory, Sam Liu, Jenny Lyon, Brooke Rainere, Thomas Reeder, Mia Scarbrough, Madi Strelka, Spencer Utt, and Caryanne Wilson. Not pictured is Christy Richardson.

A record-breaking number of second graders, 19 to be exact, have had their original poetry accepted for publication in Creative Communication’s anthology, “A Celebration of Poets.” This is a major achievement for the students at Huddleston Elementary School considering that less than 50 percent of the thousands of poems submitted each year are accepted. About 10,000 schools across the country participate in the annual competition.

“This is quite an honor for us. The student work this year is exceptional. We’ve had some poets published before, but never this many nor has the quality been so high,” says gifted teacher Lisa Evans whose students wrote and submitted poetry to the publication.

The winning students are Ashley Boyce, Jacob Brachey, Jack Bragg, Hailey Brown, Jack Bukowski, Taela Conlan, Sarah DeNell, Calvin Flowers, Johnna Haskew, Claire Ivory, Sam Liu, Jenny Lyon, Brooke Rainere, Thomas Reeder, Christy Richardson, Mia Scarbrough, Madi Strelka, Spencer Utt, and Caryanne Wilson.

Evans says 25 of her students voluntarily submitted their work that was created during a unit on poetry. Many of the poems celebrate nature and one student wrote about her special-needs sibling, a very touching piece titled “Who Am I?” that is among those being published in the anthology, which will be out in print this summer.

Because more than 50 percent of the students’ work from Evans’ class was accepted, the school received the “Poetic Achievement” award that is given to the top 10 percent of the schools that entered the competition. The schools are chosen based on the number and quality of the entries accepted.

Setting a school record for the number of students published in Creative Communication’s anthology and earning the Poetic Achievement award may not be the only honors coming to Huddleston. The 19 pieces accepted for publication are being considered for the highly coveted “Top 10 Poem” award. Top 10 winners receive their own page in the anthology and a $50 U.S. Savings Bond. Winners will be announced in May.

Additionally, the school is eligible to apply for one of two $250 language arts grants that are awarded to each state or region. If the school is selected as a grant recipient, the money will be used to purchase additional supplies for the enrichment poetry unit.

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Friends Mentors Honored at First Annual Breakfast


As mentors signed in at the breakfast, they were handed a small token of appreciation for their volunteerism. Marilyn Hare (L), a reading tutor at Peachtree City Elementary, will start her fourth year with the program in the fall. She is greeted by the school’s counselor and advisory board member, Ruth Cooper.

More than 200 adults and high school students reach out each week to help children who are struggling, academically, socially or both, have a more positive experience in and outside of school.

They are volunteers in the Fayette County School System’s Friends Mentoring Program, and for the first time, their volunteerism was formally honored during a recognition breakfast that is slated to become an annual event.

Over 30 of the school system’s mentors attended the breakfast. Those in attendance ranged from volunteers who just started the program this year all the way up to multiple years of involvement, including the program’s longest serving mentor, Sally Sharkle of Heritage Bank. Sharkle began mentoring in 1994 and works with students at Hood Avenue Primary. She was honored with a special recognition to commemorate her longstanding service to the program.

Mentors are required to go through training and an extensive background check before acceptance into the program. They are asked to commitment to working with a student at school for one hour each week. Volunteers work with students, at all grade levels, who have been identified by their counselors as benefitting from a mentor/student relationship. The school obtains parental permission prior to assigning a mentor to a child.

Mentors spend their time each week helping students with homework, class assignments, or just talking or listening. Sometimes mentors, like Trelawney Bundrage who started the program three years ago at Fayetteville Intermediate, decide with their protégés to continue their relationship from one grade level to the next. Bundrage followed her protégé to Fayette Middle.

“This program has worked so well over the years because it is simple. The commitment is 90 percent just showing up. I want to congratulate all of you on making that commitment,” said Friends Mentor Manager Jane Gough to mentors attending the breakfast.

About a year ago, Gough had the idea of establishing an advisory board to help move the program forward; the recognition breakfast was one of the ideas to come from the board that is made up of business leaders, tutors, counselors and mentors. Other enhancements originated by the board include background and finger print checks for all mentors and an electronic newsletter.

Julius Pryor, a first year mentor at Fayette Middle and advisory board member, summed up what it means to be a mentor.

“We are focused on outcomes and the young people we are working with everyday. We are professionals; we are trained, committed, disciplined, focused and are willing to extend ourselves. We realize we are having an impact and are making a difference in students’ lives. We all get as much out of this as our protégés,” Pryor said as he addressed his fellow mentors at the breakfast.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities through the Friends Mentoring Program, contact Gough at gough.jane@fcboe.org or call 770-460-3990, ext. 255.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fayetteville Police Department Hosts 2009 Junior Police Academy

The Fayetteville Police Department is hosting the 2009 Junior Police Academy.

This year the Fayetteville Police Department is hosting their sixth annual Junior Police Academy. This is an academy for children who have completed the sixth grade and/or going into the seventh, eight, or ninth grades and live in Fayette County. The dates for the academy are July 27-30, 2009. The academy day begins at 8AM and is over by 4PM. The week consists of the recruits learning many different facets of police work to include but not limited to Defensive Tactics, Traffic Laws, DUI laws, K-9, Crime Scene Processing, Handcuffing…just to name a few.

If you are interested, please come by the Fayetteville Police Department and pick up an application. The applications are due in no later than June 1, 2009 by 5PM.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Lieutenant Debbie Chambers at 770-461-4441.
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Friday, May 08, 2009

Vote Now to Help Fayette County Students with Water Conservation Efforts

Gifted students at Fayetteville Intermediate are helping Fayette County citizens conserve water, one flush at a time.

You might have seen them at the Home Depot in Fayetteville handing out the Flush Flow Fixer, an empty water bottle which recipients fill with water and place in the tank of their toilets. The bottle displaces the water each time the toilet is flushed, resulting in less water usage.

The students won a water conservation contest sponsored by Governor Sonny Perdue back in December 2007 and received $2,000 to implement the program. Almost two years later, the students are still working hard to get residents to conserve water and are going after another grant to keep their effort going.

Keep Atlanta Beautiful has selected them as one of four finalists in the “Stepping Lightly in Atlanta Awards Contest.” The contest is open to children in the metro Atlanta area who are taking steps to reduce their ecological footprints where it matters most: in their homes, schools and communities.

Now through May 15, you can cast your vote for Fayetteville Intermediate to help the students win the $1,000 grand prize. Simply go to wsbtv.com/goinggreengeorgia and watch a video to learn more about the Flush Flow Fixer and cast your vote.

“It looks like Fayette Intermediate is in the lead. The parents and friends of the school are really into this and are spreading the word and voting,” says Heidi Johnson, gifted teacher.

You can vote once every five minutes per IP address. For more information on the contest, visit keepatlantabeautiful.org.

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Young Fayette County Mathematicians Showcase Skills at Annual Tournament

Elementary math competitors at the 2009 Fayette County Elementary Math Tournament proved they knew their subject, forcing tiebreakers during the two-day event.

This marked the ninth consecutive year that the school system has hosted the competition for fourth and fifth graders. Teams of three from each of the county’s 17 elementary schools were represented at both levels. Teams were determined through competitions held at each school.



Crabapple Lane Elementary swept both the fourth and fifth grade competition this year, capturing the first place award at each level. John Childers, Samantha Schmid, Cameron Stephens and (alternate) Michael Young represented the fourth grade team; Lota Erinne, Carson Silbert, Josh Trebuchon and (alternate) Asa Smith made up the fifth grade team.

As the first place winner of the fourth and fifth grade competitions, Crabapple Lane’s name will be engraved on the plaque of champions that is displayed in the math classroom at the LaFayette Educational Center.

Rounding out the runner-up teams for the fourth grade division were Peeples Elementary, second place, and Oak Grove Elementary, third. Team members for Peeples included Brian Buck, Nick Palmer, Joshua Tysor and (alternate) Ashley Broderick. The Oak Grove team consisted of Abby Burke, Selina Krieg, Carter Rogers and (alternate) Kevin McBride.

Fayetteville Intermediate and Robert J. Burch Elementary placed second and third, respectively, at the fifth grade competition. Fayetteville Intermediate team members were Lemoine Dillon, Alyssa Jones, Terrence Thompson and (alternate) Benjamin How. Team members representing Burch were Jasmine Clark, Amanda Lockridge, Maria Quintero and (alternate) Shelby Worrell.

“Congratulations to the students who represented their schools at the competition. Thank you to the teachers and parents who have contributed to the students’ love of mathematics. It was a pleasure for me to celebrate mathematics with them,” says Lynn Ridgeway, math coordinator and organizer of the tournament.

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Fayette Chamber Honors Partners in Education

partPete Meadows (Fayette County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair); Lacie Banks (Delta Community Credit Union); Tracey Hood (Delta Community Credit Union); Keith L. Brown, “Motivator of the Millennium”; Peggy Thomas (Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services); Virginia Gibbs (Fayette County Chamber of Commerce President); and Dr. John DeCotis (Fayette County Schools Superintendent).

The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce recently honored members of the business community who have made outstanding contributions to the Fayette County school system through the Partners in Education program. On Friday, May 1st at New Hope Baptist Church, three outstanding business partners were recognized for their contributions of time, talent, and treasure to enhance the educational opportunities of Fayette students.

The following business partners were nominated for the Outstanding Partners in Education Awards: Chick-fil-A (Fayetteville Towne Center); Chick-fil-A (Hwy 54 in PTC); Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services; Coldwater Creek; Delta Community Credit Union (Crosstown Branch); Delta Community Credit Union (Hwy 74 Branch); Diversified Electronics; Mathnasium; Old Colonial Restoration; Southern Community Bank; Target (Fayetteville); United Community Bank.

The nominees provided various contributions including employee volunteerism, as well as monetary or in-kind support for projects and programs throughout the 2008-2009 school year.

Delta Community Credit Union’s Hwy 74 Branch in Peachtree City was the first honoree for their contributions to the students and staff of Peachtree City Elementary. Mentorship was a big part of their contribution for the afterschool (ASP) program. DCCU also provided funds for supplies and new speakers and provided a place for the children to perform. They provided meeting rooms and in-services for the teachers. At the same time, students from Peachtree City Elementary supported Delta Community Credit Union in their community efforts. This partnership has been building for two years.

Delta Community Credit Union’s Crosstown Branch also received a recognition award for donating 3 sets of “cubbies” for 20 classrooms for a total of 60 units. DCCU took care of all the materials, labor, and delivery expenses. In addition, several staff members are regular volunteers in the classrooms, working one on one with the children who need extra help in reading and/or math. Bonnie Hancock, Principal of Oak Grove Elementary made the nomination and said “Having someone from outside the school faculty come in and focus their attention on one child is invaluable”.

The final award was presented to Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services who enthusiastically became engaged in working with McIntosh High School to develop a specific SAT/ACT prep test. Funds collected for the prep tests were given directly to the Guidance department for student needs. Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services donated approximately 142 personnel hours in administering, scoring, and reporting results. The experience was so positive, the plan will be offered again next year. They have provided other schools with funds to support Spring Flings, Chorus programs, 5k runs and the “Evening with the Stars” retirement celebration. They have also given gifts for teacher recognition, free tutoring scholarships and approximately 145 hours of free tutoring.

The guest speaker at the breakfast was Keith L. Brown, “Motivator of the Millennium”. Keith’s inspirational message educated, entertained and empowered over 100 attendees, including Board of Education representatives, school administrators, teachers, Fayette Chamber members and other representatives from the Fayette business community.

The event was sponsored by The Southern Federal Credit Union, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Delta Community Credit Union and speaker Keith L. Brown.

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Fayette County Third Grade Writing Scores Up

Fayette County's third graders made big gains on the 2009 Third Grade Writing Assessment, according to results just released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Compared to last year, scores in the “does not meet” category dropped from three to eight percent with passing scores in the “meets” and “exceeds” category increasing five to nine percent collectively.

Fayette continues to outpace both the state and neighboring school systems in its region, which include Butts, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Newton, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties, by having nine to 10 percent fewer students “not meeting” standards and anywhere from 10 to 14 percent more students posting passing scores.

The Georgia Third Grade Writing Assessment covers four types of writing: narrative, informational, persuasive and response to literature. Third grade teachers assess the writing analytically in four domains: ideas, organization, style and conventions. Teachers collect writing samples by providing many opportunities for students to produce the various types of writing throughout the year.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Starr's Mill HS Economics Team Advances to Nationals

From state champions, to regional winners and now on to the national championships, economic students at Starr’s Mill High are on a roll.

The team of students emerged as the winners of the southern regional 2009 Council on Economic Education/Goldman Sachs Foundation National Economics Challenge held at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta on April 27. The Starr’s Mill team was one of 16 from across the 11-state Southeast region that competed in the tournament.

Team members include Keegan Christensen, Joseph Morrow, Ben Payne and Kendall Reeves. Led by economics teacher Mark DeCourcy, the team will travel, all expenses paid, to the National Economics Challenge Championship Finals in New York City May 16-18. They will join students from other parts of the United States to celebrate their regional winnings as well as compete in the semi-finals with the top two teams facing off at the final competition on May 18 before a live audience at Scholastic Auditorium.

The National Economics Challenge is an academic tournament that tests high school students both individually and as teams on their economic knowledge and problem solving skills. It is a competition demanding both critical thinking and teamwork.

Winners of the national championship and their teachers each receive $3,000 U.S. Savings Bonds with the runner-up teams and their teachers receiving $1,500 U.S. Savings Bonds.

An estimated 4,000 high school students in about 1,000 teams from 38 states around the country competed in the National Economics Challenge Championship Finals last year.

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Fayette School Counselors Association Names Counselors of the Year, Installs Officers

School Superintendent Dr. John DeCotis (center) along with this year’s counselor and advocate of the year winners: (L-R) Dionne Maddox, Linda G. Williams, Sonya Tucker and Diann Ferrante.

Fayette County's school counselors celebrated their craft and honored their colleagues during the ninth annual Fayette School Counselors Association (FSCA) Installation of Officers and Awards Ceremony.

Each year the association seeks nominations from members, teachers and administrators for those who are always going above and beyond the call of duty to help students excel at each academic level. One counselor of the year is selected from the elementary, middle and high school level. The 2009 counselors of the year are (elementary) Linda G. Williams, Brooks; (middle) Dionne Maddox, Flat Rock and (high) Sonya Tucker, McIntosh.

In addition to naming counselors of the year, the organization recognizes a non-counselor who has worked hard during the year to advance counseling programs and services at an individual school or system wide. This year’s advocate of the year award was presented to Diann Ferrante, secretary for CARE (Children at Risk in Education).

During the ceremony, the association also installed its 2009-2010 officers: Kaye Eubanks (Open Campus) president elect; Linda G. Williams (Brooks Elementary) president; Brenda Cannington (Bennett’s Mill Middle) past president; Kelly Hubbard (Robert J. Burch Elementary) secretary; Tama Matthews (Flat Rock Middle) treasurer; Stacey Patterson (Crabapple Lane Elementary) elementary school vice president; Dionne Maddox (Flat Rock Middle) middle school vice president and Hope Huey (McIntosh High) high school vice president.

Fayette has three counselors who have made the decision to retire this year. Each has dedicated at least 30 years of service to the field of education and has impacted countless students, parents and coworkers. The following retirees were honored by the association: Susanne Pinkley, Oak Grove Elementary; Fanita Duvall, Fayette County Alternative School; and Winkie Greenhaw, Sandy Creek High.

School counselors at all levels provide valuable services to students and their families as well as faculty and staff. On a daily basis they are involved in character education, violence prevention, career planning and much more.

Counselors are professional educators who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse population. They don’t work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program. They provide proactive leadership that engages all stakeholders in the delivery of programs and services to help students achieve school success.

Professional school counselors align with the school’s mission to support the academic achievement of all students as they prepare for the ever-changing world of the 21st century. This mission is accomplished through the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive, developmental and systematic school counseling program.

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Fayette County Education Foundation Celebrates Another Successful Year

Fayette County Education Foundation members visited Rising Starr Middle to view the green house and garden maintained by students in Holly Monahan’s class. Monahan is the receipt of this year’s large grant award.

Even with donations being down this year, the Fayette County Education Foundation gave over $18,000 to teachers throughout the county’s public school system to help bring innovative teaching materials and programs to students.

A total of 34 projects received funding this year through the foundation’s mini-grant program. Mini-grant awards range from $200-$750 per person. Additionally, one large grant valued over $1,700 was awarded to Rising Starr Middle to purchase equipment for a green house used by special needs children to study plant life. This marks the second year the foundation has awarded a grant valued greater than $1,000.

The grants give educators the monetary assistance they need to bring innovative and creative programs into their schools and classrooms to help enhance the curriculum that is already in place. These programs are in addition to what is funded by the school system. Without assistance from the Fayette County Education Foundation, funding for many of these programs would not be possible.

Counting this year’s grants, the Fayette County Education Foundation has given over $174,000 to more than 420 recipients since it awarded its first grants in 2002. Funding for the grants would not be possible without the generous support of the business community, Fayette County School System employees and local individuals who have a vested interest in enhancing educational opportunities for Fayette’s students. Donations to the foundation are tax deductible.

In addition to grants, the foundation also gives scholarships to paraprofessionals in the Fayette County School System who are currently enrolled in an accredited teaching program and plan to teach in Fayette after earning their certification. This year’s winners are Patricia Sanders, Oak Grove Elementary, and Tara Fathy-Amin, Robert J. Burch Elementary.

The foundation is a cooperative effort between the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Fayette County Public School System. Anyone interested in becoming a supporter of the Fayette County Education Foundation can contact Melinda Berry-Dreisbach at the Fayette County Board of Education, 770-460-3535.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bennett’s Mill Wins Regional Academic Competition

Fayette County's middle school students recently showed off their knowledge of various academic and performing art subjects at the PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) Region 6 Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.

Only two school teams from 12 regions throughout Georgia are selected as regional winners. The Bennett’s Mill Middle team won one of the two slots for Region 6. Winning teams go on to compete at the state finals.

The PAGE Academic Bowl features teams of middle school students answering questions on subjects ranging from Georgia history to mathematics, science, literature and the performing arts. Opposing teams compete against the clock to answer toss-up and bonus questions in order to score points.

The goal of the program is to inspire students to excel academically, to enhance student self-confidence and self-esteem through high achievement, and to encourage both a team and competitive spirit.

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Fayette County Students Receive $2,500 Merit Scholarships

Graduating seniors at Fayette County High and McIntosh High are among the 2,500 students nationwide receiving National Merit Scholarships.

Jennie K. Lee (Fayette) and William S. Kearney (McIntosh) will both receive a $2,500 Merit Scholarship to help offset college expenses. Jennie plans to major in medicine/public health; William is planning a career in academic anthropology. Both Jennie and William are valedictorians at their respective schools.

National Merit Scholarship winners in each state are judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. A committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors selected the winners.

Applicants were evaluated on their academic record, including difficulty of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay describing interests and goals and the recommendation written by a high school official.

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Speech-Language Pathologists Celebrate National Hearing and Speech Month

Fayette County's 34 speech-language pathologists gather for a rare photo opportunity to show their support of National Hearing and Speech Month.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and the Fayette County School System’s speech-language pathologists (SLP) are taking advantage of the 75-year old celebration to raise community awareness, knowledge and understanding of various forms of communication impairments and the work they do to help the county’s students overcome and/or cope with their disabilities.

The school system’s 34 SLPs serve over 1,215 speech-impaired students daily. They work with students in all grade levels, helping them gain communication skills so that they can be successful both academically and socially.

SLPs serve students who have difficulties in articulation/phonology, receptive/expressive language, pragmatic communication skills, voice and fluency. They also teach students who cannot speak verbally, or are hard to understand, how to use communication devices. Services are provided in a number of ways including one-on-one, resource settings, collaborative/classroom environments as well as in the community.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 10 percent of children have moderate to severe communication impairments, including speech production/articulation, stuttering and language-learning difficulties. Children with speech and language impairments are 4 to 5 times more likely than their peers to experience other language-learning disabilities including significant reading problems.

Speech impaired students are making big strides everyday in Fayette’s classrooms, improving their academic achievement, social quality of life, and ultimately career advancement potential. SLP Missy Vermeyen explains how she helped a nonverbal high school student progress from acting out in class and not participating in activities to becoming a leader who takes an active role in the classroom and is now speaking words and phrases.

“We gave her a simple communication device and she began using it immediately. She takes great pride in being able to participate in class and her speech intelligibility has improved dramatically. She now greets verbally with ‘hi’ and her name. This is only the beginning for her,” says Vermeyen.

Speech-language pathologists hold at least a master’s degree and are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

ROTC Cadet Donates Prize to WW II Veterans

A cadet in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Sandy Creek High made a special donation to the county’s World War II veterans and got a special honor of his own.

Thomas Treat, a junior and third-year AFJROTC cadet, was recently named Georgia’s Outstanding Junior ROTC Cadet for 2008-09 by the Sons of the American Revolution and received a $500 cash prize. Treat decided to take half of the award and donate it to Fayette’s Honor Flight program that flies WW II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorial.

Treat made a presentation of the donation on May 4 shortly before another group of veterans left for their trip to Washington. He says the donation is his way of honoring the men and women of WW II for their sacrifices.

“I want to recognize their service to our country and assist in sending them to see their WW II memorial,” Treat explains.

Honor Flight relies on community donations to fund the flights and other trip expenses such as food and ground transportation. The trip is free for the veterans.

Shortly after announcing his intent to make the donation, Treat was informed that a seat had become available on the May 4 flight and was invited to accompany the veterans on the one-day trip to the memorial.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

FC Parks & Rec Summer Program Registration May 4th

The Fayette County Parks and Recreation Department will begin registration for the Summer 2009 brochure on Monday, May 4, 2009. Registration will be taken at the Activities House, 980 Redwine Road, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The brochure can be obtained at the offices of the Fayette County Parks and Recreation Department, Administration Complex, Library, and school offices. To download brochures from the web site go to http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/parks_rec/brochure_parks.asp. Early registration is encouraged as these programs fill up fast and transportation is limited on the adult trips.

Grass Volleyball Tournament

Grab a few friends and compete for bragging rights at the annual grass volleyball tournament. Format will be 4x4 regular coed teams. All teams must pre-register and must provide one player from their team to officiate other games as needed.
Day: Saturday
Date: May 2
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Fee: $12 per team
Age: 16 & older
Location: McCurry Park
*Early registration is encouraged as space will be limited!

DRIVER SAFETY PROGRAM

Originally geared for ages 55 & older this class is now open to licensed drivers of all ages. Class size is limited, so early registration is encouraged!
Day: Monday & Tuesday
Date: Session I: May 4 & 5
Time: 9:00 a.m.— 1:00 p.m.
Fee: $12 per person AARP members
$14 per person Non—AARP members
Age: 18 & older
Location: Activities House

Country Western Line Dance

Dancing builds and promotes cardiovascular health through physical workouts of varying intensity. Line dancing provides a foundation for dance experience that will enable you to have balance, rhythm, timing, and better posture. Only dance participants allowed in class. No class May 25 & July 6!
Day: Mondays
Date: Session I: May 4, 11, 18, June 1
Time: 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. Beginner
7:45 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. Intermediate
Fee: $25 per person
Age: 15 & older
Location: Kiwanis Center

Lunchtime Beginning Line Dance

Join us each week for a fun and energetic way to get a little exercise and learn how to line dance. You will learn the basic steps that can be incorporated into the songs of yesteryear and the latest hits of today. NO PARTNER NEEDED!
Day: Thursday
Date: Session I: May 7, 14, 21, & 28
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Fee: $25 per person
Age: 15 & older
Location: Activities House

Chick-fil-A Headquarters/Green Manor

Let’s tour the Chick-fil-A Corporate Headquarters that includes a film, museum, and Truett Cathy’s Antique Car Collection. Then off to the Green Manor for lunch and some history about this old home.
Day: Friday
Date: May 8
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Fee: $15 per person
Age: Adult
Location: Union City

Atlanta Church Tours

Join Join us on this church tour as we view one of the largest collections of British stained glass outside of the British Empire. Our next tour will take us to a church built in the neo-Renaissance design with “theatre-style” seating and Old Testament sculptures. Lunch is at Son’s Place Restaurant.
Day: Tuesday
Date: May 12
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fee: $20 per person
Age: Adult
Location: Atlanta

The Story of CDC

Traces the origins and early history of CDC through its expansion into an agency of public health programs emphasizing prevention. The story is told through documents, photographs, and objects from the CDC Collection.
Day: Wednesday
Date: May 27
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Fee: $10 per person
Age: Adult
Location: Atlanta

Rock ‘n’ Roll Line Dance for Children

No matter what your musical preference, who hasn't had a song on their top ten play list they would love to line dance to! Come learn to incorporate line dance steps to your music.
Day: Saturdays
Date: Session I: June 6, 13, 20, 27
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Fee: $25 per person
Age: 8 - 11 years old
Location: Kiwanis Center

Pam Green's Youth Canvas Painting

Join us for a week of painting -- no experience required! You'll experiment with both watercolors and acrylics and at the end of the class; you'll leave with a finished canvas that you can show off to all your friends and family.
Day: Monday - Friday
Date: June 22 - 26
Time: Session I: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Session II: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Fee: $100 per person
Age: 8 & older
Location: Activities House
All supplies are included!

Whose WIVES ARE THEY ANYWAY?

After sending their wives shopping in New York, two well-meaning golfers anticipate a fulfilling golfing excursion on their own until the new CEO arrives unexpectedly and wants to meet their wives.
Day: Friday
Date: May 15
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Fee: $18.00 per person
Age: Adults
Location: Fairburn

Volleyball Officials’ Camp

This camp will provide an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in becoming a volleyball official; and for returning officials to hear new ideas and learn some new techniques from the GHSA Volleyball Officials’ Coordinator.
Day: Monday - Thursday
Date: May 18 - 21
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Fee: $30 per person
Age: 18 & older
Location: LaFayette Educational Center Gym

Steel Magnolias

A comedy /drama about the friendship among a group of captivating Southern Women
Day: Wednesday
Date: May 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Fee: TBA
Age: Adult
Location: Griffin Main Street Playhouse

Wii-tired BOWLING FUN

Be a part of the NEW craze with this monthly Wii Bowling Tournament held at the Activities House. Bring a dish to share and vie for the bragging rights. Great exercise and lots of fun!
Day: Wednesdays
Date: May 27, June 24, July 22, August 26
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Fee: No charge
Age: Adults
Location: Activities House

Murder @ Happydale High the Musical

Join us for a spoof of High School Musical as the Dean of Students, Danny Puko still relives his glory days when he was the top dog at Happydale High. Four hip replacements later, he has to turn over that title to his own hip swiveling son. Join us for a five-course meal complete with hor d’ oeuvres and drinks.
Day: Thursday
Date: June 18 Time: Depart 6:00 p.m.
Fee: $70 per person
Age: Adult
Location: Atlanta

TR Wii Fit Club

Wii has arrived! Come meet us for a Wii bit of fun while actually exercising! Wii will not tell you what sport Wii will be doing each day so always come dressed in loose fitting clothes and be ready for the action!
Day: Wednesdays
Date: May 27, July 22, August 26
Time: 12:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Age: 18 & older
Fee: $5 per person
Location: Activities House

Moments in Time

Family history is being lost and we have golden-agers in our community who have a lot to share. We are looking for those very special seniors who have lived in Fayette County for twenty five years or longer who would like to take a special journey with us to record their life and memories of Fayette County. Join us with a glance of the past as we share with the community and your families the progression of your life in the county. To take part in this program call 770.716.4320.

Potluck Adult “RAP” Session

Join our open discussions for an exchange of ideas, opinions, and suggestions for programs and trips. Each month we will explore a different topic that will assist us in planning programs for the fall. Bring a potluck dish to share!
May 20, June 17
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Activities House

ST.AUGUSTINE’S NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

Millions of white lights create a magical holiday atmosphere in the Nation’s oldest city during the Annual Nights of Lights Celebration in St. Augustine, Florida. Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting reflects the city’s 443 - year history while creating a beautiful setting for special memories. December 1 - 5
$530 per person based on double occupancy
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