Dragon Digest

Volume 2, Issue 2 / August 25, 2017


Dear DeSana Parents & Students,

How is your young Dragon progressing so far this year in all of his/her classes? Next Friday, September 1st marks the 4 ½ week juncture of this first semester, and thus, is a great time for parents to take note of how their middle schooler is starting off this school year in each class. While parents (and students!) may check their child’s grades daily/weekly via Parent Portal . . . and we highly encourage you to do so . . . we will be sending home with students a paper copy Progress Report for each of their seven classes on next Friday, September 1st . This will give you and your student an opportunity to see how he/she is progressing in each class. All students --- 6th, 7th & 8th graders --- will be given one Progress Report sheet from each core class (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Literacy and Spanish for 8th graders who take it) that tells their class average thus far and how they have done on each formative and/or summative assessment. For Connections classes, Progress Reports will be given only to those students with a present grade of 75% or below.

We encourage each parent to take a few minutes to sit down with his/her young Dragon to go over and discuss his/her academic progress thus far. Let us also give you a word of caution as you look at the averages for your child’s classes at this 4 ½ week juncture. As you hopefully know, this first semester grading period is made up of an 18-week period, so this is just the one-quarter mark of the entire 18 week grading period. A student’s average at this point may include few or not any summative assessments, which will count as 80% of his/her total average for the semester. Thus, your child’s course average may be a bit skewed, one way or the other, depending on how many formative (which count 20% of a student’s total average for the semester) and summative assessments have been given, and how your child has performed on any of the assessments given thus far.

Parents, please do not hesitate to contact any of your child’s teachers should you have any questions or concerns about your young Dragon’s academic progress for these first 4 ½ weeks. Please know we want and need you involved in your child’s education during these important middle school years. We appreciate your support so very much!

With warmest regards,

Terri A. North



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Our inaugural DeSana Day of Good Deeds was a huge success last year! We are looking forward toD3 Day 2018 being even bigger! We need your help. We are looking to fill several key D3 DayCommittee Chairs and several other support positions. The D3 Day committee meets once a month to discuss our progress. Some jobs are more focused in the fall and others don't start hopping until the spring. Please join us on Monday, August 28th at 9:30am in the DeSana PL Room for our first D3 Day Committee meeting and we will explain all the positions we are looking to fill. This is specifically for parents interested in being involved in the planning of D3 Day. You will have an opportunity to sign up in the spring if you would like to volunteer to help on D3 Day!

Thanks so much!

Dawn Bourg dawn@bourgs.com, Jenn Harris jharris@campharris.org D3 Day Co-Chairs

Email us with any questions or concerns before the meeting.


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Mark your calendars! This year we have partnered with Read-A-Thon for our fundraiser which kicks off on September 6th and runs through September 22nd. Our kids commit to seven 30 minute reading sessions, a few of which take place during school hours but most will be done at home. We raise funds by asking for a flat donation for time spent reading. We know everyone is inundated in the fall with magazines and chocolates and popcorn sale requests so we hope this approach provides a bit of a break for you and the kids AND it encourages and promotes a love of reading! We also get to keep 75% of the funds raised which is very exciting as it will allow us to do so much more for the school! We hope you will join your children for some family reading time and encourage them in this endeavor! Prizes will be awarded to students in each grade for most funds raised and the class who has the most donations will receive a Chick-Fil-A and Kona Ice party!

Here are just some of the ways these funds and your PTO membership dues contribute to DeSana:

o We support environmental programs including recycling and school ground beautification.

o Capital improvements include benches, picnic tables, the outdoor classroom and signage in the school.

o The PTO will be a major sponsor of the DeSana Great Day of Good Deeds which will give an opportunity for our students, staff members, and parent volunteers to provide hands-on service throughout the community by doing service projects in the school and outside of the school, in the community.

o Academic Achievement Awards, Dragon Academy, Red Ribbon Week, Pride Awards, and the Book Fair are all supported by the PTO.

o 6th, 7th and 8th grade activities such as the 8th grade picnic and dance.

o Staff Appreciation Week.

o Hospitality which includes school competitions such as the Oratorical Contest, Geography Bee and the Spelling Bee.

A flyer with more information will be sent home next week so be on the look out!


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On Thursday, September 7th and Friday, September 8th, the DeSana faculty and administration will host our fall Academic Achievement Celebrations. These celebrations will honor those students who excelled academically during the second semester of the 2016 – 2017 school year (last year). What better way to start this new school year than to recognize our young Dragons for their outstanding academic accomplishments last spring!

We will recognize our Honor Roll students - - - those students who earned a grade of 90 or above for their second semester grade (not their final course average) in each and every class. This includes all 4 core classes --- Math Language Arts, Science and Social Studies --- and Literacy classes and Spanish class (8th grade only), and all Connections classes taken during the second semester.

We will also recognize our Merit Roll students - - - those students who earned a grade of 85 or above for their second semester grade (not their final course average) in each and every class. This, too, includes all 4 core classes --- Math Language Arts, Science and Social Studies --- and Literacy classes and Spanish class (8th grade only), and all Connections classes taken during the second semester.

Invitations for honored students and their parents to attend these wonderful ceremonies will be sent home with students on Tuesday, August 29th. The Academic Achievement Celebrations will take place by grade level, with each on separate days:

· Present 8th Grade Students / Last Year’s 7th Grade Students – Thursday, September 7th @ 8:00 AM in the DeSana cafeteria

· Present 7th Grade Students / Last Year’s 6th Grade Students – Friday, September 8th @ 8:00 AM in the DeSana cafeteria

Parents, we will begin each Celebration promptly at 8:00 so you will want to make your morning plans accordingly as we will be honoring quite a few students at each. Parking will be available in the parking lots in front of the school and by the gym.

This will be a special event as we take this opportunity to congratulate and honor our young Dragons who continually make school, their learning, and the mastering of academic standards a priority in their lives. We congratulate our Academic Achievement honorees! And we look forward to seeing our students and parents at these special award events!

Grade Level eNewsletters

We know that many middle schoolers are not the best conduit of information about what is happening at school in all of their different classes. Itslearning is a BIG help in reminding students about assignments and what they are studying in class, as well as for parents. But we want to make double sure that our parents are in the know about their child’s academic endeavors, so that is why we will begin publishing our digital Grade Level eNewsletters starting the first of September. These eNewsletters are nothing fancy --- just the facts --- and are designed to give you a brief synopsis of what is happening in the four main content areas (five for 8th graders, which includes Spanish) . . . Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science . . . on a monthly basis. Each Grade Level eNewsletter (eNews, for short) may contain information about standards/topics/concepts being studied, formative and/or summative assessments coming up, project assignments, and/or reminders about other upcoming activities or events. So stay tuned to your email in-box as our first eNews will be coming your way electronically within the next week!

Individual Student Report End-of-Grade (EOG) Assessments for Spring 2017

Your child’s Individual Student Report (ISR) for last year's Georgia Milestones/EOGs will be sent home on September 1, 2017. There is a plethora of information on the score report. Some of the information can be confusing, so we want to help you better understand your student’s report.

On the 1st page, you will see 3 sections: Content Area, Achievement Level, and Scale Score. Your student will have data for English Language Arts and Mathematics. This is due to your student only taking the English Language Art and Mathematics portion of the Georgia Milestone Test. You will also see a section for Achievement Levels. There are four different levels which includes an explanation for each level. The way to identify your student’s level is by looking at the black bars in the Achievement Level section. The Achievement Level is indicated by the number of bars that are colored black. If your child has all four bars colored black, he/she is at a Level 4 for their Academic Achievement Level.

The 2nd page provides you with a general summary of skills and knowledge that a student performs on at a Beginning Learner, Developing Learner, Proficient Learner, and a Distinguished Learner. The two different sections that are discussed are English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The 3rd page provides you with a detailed performance on your student’s performance for English Language Arts. You will see the Achievement Level again along with a description of the particular Achievement Level your child is performing on at the end of the 16-17 school year. You will also see the Domain summary. There will be two Domains listed: Reading/Vocabulary and Writing/Language. These are the only two domains that your student was tested on. You will also be able to view a comparison of your students score to DeSana Middle School, Forsyth County School System, the State of Georgia, and a National Sample of Students. When viewing your student’s Percentile, keep in mind the number is a percentile and not a percent. For example, if your child has a 95, this means that your student performed at or better than 95% of students in reading on a national level. You will also see your child’s Lexile score including the Lexile Range. The Lexile Range is a range of where your child should be reading and will help guide them when choosing books to read. The state offers suggestions of books for your child to read for leisure and books that will challenge them.

The 4th page provides you with a detailed report on your student’s performance for Mathematics. You will find the same information that you viewed on page 3 except for a few changes. You will not find a Lexile Range nor recommended books to read. You will find more Domains. Your student was tested on 5 different Domains: Ratios and Proportional Relationships, The Number System, Expression and Equations, Geometry, and Statistics.

If you have any questions regarding your child's ISR, please do not hesitate to contact DeSana's Testing Coordinator, Assistant Principal David Feuerbach at dfeuerbach@forsyth.k12.ga.us or at ext. 491507.


Dragon Academy is an opportunity we will begin offering students on August 25th from 4:15 – 6:15 for completing, taking or re-taking formative and/or summative assessments (i.e. unit tests, projects, essays, quizzes. etc.). Dragon Academy will happen at least two times a month --- on Fridays ---beginning August 25th, with teachers and an administrator supervising each session. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to drastically improve both their learning and their grades. Students will be invited by their teachers . . . or they may invite themselves . . . to attend Dragon Academy if they are missing work or need to re-take an assessment to show better mastery of the standards or complete a project. Although students will have about two hours to complete their work, once they complete all that they came to accomplish, students will be able to call their parent to come pick them up. Snacks and drinks will be sold for a very reasonable cost so students may focus on their work, not on their gurgling stomachs! Any necessary school supplies will be provided for students to use to complete their work, as needed.

Please mark your calendars now for these Dragon Academy dates for the rest of the school year:

· September 8 &15

· October 6, 18 (Early Release Day so it will be 1:30 – 4:00) & 27

· November 10 &17

· December 1 & 15

· January 26

· February 9 & 23

· March 9 (Early Release Day so it will be 1:30 – 4:00), 16 & 30

· April 27

· May 4 & 18

Additional Opportunity to Learn (AOL) Time

Has your child learned everything in their life the first time it was presented to them? Does your child really like to come in for early morning help sessions? Does your child really like to stay after school for help sessions? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then Additional Opportunity to Learn (AOL) time will be great for your child. AOL is a 50 minute block of time that will happen first thing in the morning on Thursdays, and on some Wednesdays (9:00 – 9:50) beginning Thursday, August 24th. During this block of time, students have the opportunity to receive re-teaching from their teachers should they need it. If your child is struggling in a class or if they have received a low summative score, please encourage them to take advantage of AOL time! Ask your young Dragon each Wednesday evening/Thursday morning where he/she are going for AOL time on Thursday. Then ask him/her Thursday evening what teacher they went to that day for extra help. Thanking you in advance for your help in making sure our young Dragons take advantage of this learning opportunity during AOL time!

Early Release Days for Forsyth County Schools

This year’s FCS calendar has one (1) Early Release/Professional Learning Day . . . Wednesday, August 30th . . . in addition to three (3) Early Release/Conference Days, with two conference days in October . . . October 18th & 19th . . . and one in March . . . March 9th. Middle school students will be released at 1:30 PM on all of these Early Release Days, and we hope that our DeSana parents will take advantage of these days by scheduling your child’s doctor and dentist appointments on these afternoons in order to minimize time spent missing classroom instruction. During the afternoon of August 30th, all teachers and administrators will be involved in meaningful, professional learning and collaborative planning as they enhance their instructional knowledge, strategies and skills, and collaborate on our school improvement plan; therefore, no after school activities, club meetings or team practices will occur on this afternoon.

What is itslearning?

Itslearning is an online learning management system that allows teachers to have an online component alongside their traditional instruction. Not only can teachers post classroom content, but they may also have students participate in online discussions, submit assignments, complete assessments, and create content. In addition to being a vital component for everyday teaching and learning, itslearning will also be utilized during any days missed due to unscheduled school closures (ex. inclement weather). Itslearning is also a communication tool for administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

What can I do as a parent? In all courses, parents can monitor content assigned to their children through itslearning. Parents can log-in with the same credentials they use to get in Parent Portal or by using their child’s log-in information. Here at DeSana we recommend using your child’s log-in information. This will give you a little more access to things when you are trying to assist your child. Be sure to ask your child for their username and password. In both instances, parents can check the Lesson Planner section for the class lesson presented that day, see posted homework or posted ‘no homework’, see class resources used, class activities, and any information about upcoming tests, projects, and quizzes. Using the student log-in will allow parents to find bulletins or reminders in individual courses. Parents can also find links to valuable resources that students may need throughout the year. This can include on-line text books and more. How do I get there? There are 2 easy ways to get there: 1. Go to https://forsyth.itslearning.com. Use your child’s username and password to log-in. 2. Visit our DeSana Middle School web site and use the quick link at the top right to access Classlink (itslearning.) Again, use your child’s username and password. If your child does not know their information, they can ask one of their teachers or go see Mr. Crowder, the DeSana Instructional Technology Specialist, in his office located in the Media Center. This information cannot be emailed or given out over the phone. Having this information and checking it regularly are vital for helping your child succeed to the fullest at DeSana.

I still need help! Visiting the DeSana Webpage will be your first step. On the right side under Quick Links is a link to valuable resources. These resources include print and video resources about using and navigating itslearning for both parents and students. If you prefer, you can come to a parent’s meeting that will be on August 31, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:30—drop in whenever you can make it and Mr. Crowder will be happy to answer all your questions about itslearning. Mr. Crowder has made this video you can watch by clicking here on itslearning basics. If August 31 is not a good day for you, call or email Mr. Crowder. 770-667-2591 Ext 491590 ncrowder@forsyth.k12.ga.us. He will try to answer your questions or set an individual meeting with you.


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Are You Ready for Some Football!?

Mark your calendars now to come out and support our Dragons!! GOOOOOO DRAGONS!!!!!

Here is the Dragon Football Schedule for the rest of the 2017 Season:

· Tuesday August 29 vs. Otwell FCHS 6:30

· Tuesday Sept. 5 vs. North NFHS 5:30

· Tuesday Sept. 12 vs. Riverwatch Lambert 6:30

· Tuesday Sept. 19 vs. Vickery DeSana 5:30

Here is the Dragon JV Football Schedule for this 2017 Season:

· Saturday August 19 vs. North DeSana 9:00

· Saturday Sept. 9 vs. South SFMS 9:00

· Saturday Sept. 16 vs. Piney Grove DeSana 9:00

· Thursday Sept. 21 vs. Lakeside DeSana 5:30


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Band News

Welcome back!!!! It has been an exciting start to the year for our Dragon Band and we are looking forward to a great year making music with our young musicians. This year we can boast increasing our numbers to a whopping 220 students! How incredible is that!?! Thanks to all the beginning 6th grade band parents who have allowed their kids to be a part of one of the most fun activities at DeSana, our band! Our Symphonic and Concert bands are working hard on creating a wonderful concert performance for our community in October and then again in December. A huge thank you to our administration and guidance department for making sure that all of our kids are in the correct band classes. We hope that each of you will be able to attend our performances this year and enjoy what our kids are able to create, and that is making wonderful music!


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6th grade Social

The 6th grade teachers are sponsoring a social for 6th grade DeSana students on Thursday, August 31, 2017. The social will begin at 4:15 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the cafeteria. Admission is $5.00 per person along with a signed permission form. Students may purchase refreshments at the concession stand. Teachers, parents, and administrators will chaperone this event. We are looking forward to a very special, fun-filled afternoon!

Introducing the new Dragon Buddy Program!

This program is a service-based class that will take the place of one connections class. Students who are part of this program will participate for one semester at a time. They will serve as a peer mentor, tutor, friend, and role model to students who have special needs. Dragon Buddy participants may be invited to go out into the community and/or to the Special Olympics with students who have special needs. Students can pick up an application outside of room 1212. They are due by August 30, 2017.

DeSana Family Fun Day

DeSana Middle School is very excited to start a new family tradition this year . . . The DeSana Family Fun Festival on Saturday, September 9 at 6:30 PM! We want ALL of our students' families to join us on the football field to celebrate our DeSana Family . . . an education family that includes people from all over the world! This fun evening begins at 6:30. Bring a blanket, chairs, food and drinks for your family to enjoy for dinner. If you prefer not to bring food, Jay’s Mexican Grill is going to have a food truck for you to buy your food and Kona Ice will also have a truck for you to buy a sweet frozen treat! We will have cornhole games and bocce ball games set up for everyone to enjoy, and please bring your soccer ball, football, Frisbees or whatever fun outdoor games you want to enjoy playing with your DeSana Family. A DJ will be playing all sorts of fun music to add to the enjoyment of the evening. Once it gets dark, settle back as we all enjoy a movie under the stars . . . Zootopia! We hope your family will plan on joining the DeSana Family for this celebration with fun, games, food, music and a movie together. If you have questions, email Nick Crowder at ncrowder@forsyth.k12.ga.us or Bridget Bryson at bbryson@forsyth.k12.ga.us See you all September 9, 2017 at 6:30 for the DeSana Family Fun Festival!!

SAVANNAH TRIP May 9-11, 2018

Every year we take 8th grade students on a 3-day field trip to Savannah. This is an exciting opportunity and we hope that all students can join us. Mr. Joey Robinson and Ms. Jamie Baggett are the coordinators for the trip and you can contact them by email JRobinson@forsyth.k12.ga.us and jbaggett@forsyth.k12.ga.us or phone 770-667-2591 ext. 492220/Robinson or ext. 492219/Baggett. Students received an application and information packet on August 11th. Click here for another copy and information on the website.

If you would like to stay in contact with Mr. Robinson throughout the year about the trip, you may subscribe to two different sources. Send the text message @dmssav to 81010 to receive text message updates or send an email to Mr. Robinson at JRobinson@forsyth.k12.ga.us and request to subscribe to Savannah.


The Importance of Altruistic Endeavors

Altruistic Endeavors is one of the five key facets of our overall program. It is one of our core values, so to speak. We want our young Dragons to not only know what it is like to give back to their wonderful community and others, but to also experience it firsthand. Through many different DeSana service clubs, school wide charitable endeavors, and our first DeSana Day of Good Deeds (or D3 Day for short!) in the spring, we will work to provide our students with a variety of community service opportunities throughout the school year, in our local community, and in different parts of our country and the world.

So why encourage our young Dragons to get involved in community service? Well, first and foremost, it is the right thing to do; to learn to give freely and happily of one's time and talents and heart to help others, expecting nothing in return! But here are a few other reasons to consider encouraging your child to get involved in community service:

· To help someone in need.

· Those who give of themselves and their resources and help others, say they receive a great feeling in return.

· Helping others can expand your world and help you better understand what is happening in your community.

· Meet new people and make new friends.

· To improve our world by caring for the environment.

· Giving back to one's community and others is an "added value" on your college resume.

Please check out opportunities for serving and helping others right here in the Dragon Digest and for students, on morning announcements!


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Want to own a 2017-2018 DeSana Yearbook?

Don’t miss out on the best memory book created by the BEST yearbook staff!

Go to: balfour.com and click: shop your school. Students may also bring cash or check to Mrs. West on the 7th grade hall.

The price is $35 and will go up after March 31, 2018. On-line sales will END March 31st.

Loooooong Labor Day Weekend Approaching

Monday, September 4th is Labor Day, which is a school holiday for all FCS students and staff. That means an extra long weekend for all of our young Dragons and their families! Our school office will be closed and teachers and staff have the holiday off as well. Enjoy this day off . . . stay safe . . . and we look forward to seeing all of our young Dragons back at the Lair, safe and sound, on Tuesday, September 5th . . . ready to carry on with their learning!

School Safety Video

Your student’s safety is the number one priority of DeSana’s Administration. As a school, we practice fire drills, severe weather drills, and code yellow lockdown drills in order for your student to know what to do in case an emergency should arise at DeSana Middle School. There are a few aspects of a code red lockdown that we do not practice during a code yellow lockdown drill. We do not practice gathering students in classrooms with the lights off, what to do if you are in the bathroom, what to do if you are in the cafeteria, what to do if you are in the hallway, what do you do if you are outside, etc. Our teachers do a wonderful job with discussing these with the students, but the students are not able see it in action. The Forsyth County School Safety Department has provided a fantastic video for students to watch in order to better prepare them for situations that we do not practice at school. We encourage you to view the video with your student. The video is posted on the DeSana’s webpage under Latest News (https://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/desana).

SAFETY IS . . . And Always WILL BE . . . Our #1 PRIORITY At DeSana!

Please know that providing a safe and secure environment at DeSana for our students and staff is our #1 Priority Each and every day! We know that if our students do not feel safe, then learning cannot take place for our students. Forsyth County Schools and DeSana Middle School have many practices and procedures in place to help safeguard your child every minute of every day to, from and on campus. Detailed safety plans for all kinds of emergencies have been carefully planned, written, shared with staff, and put in place, and will be practiced frequently with our staff and students as we begin this school year. We will continue to practice these drills in an organized way, and as if they were the real thing, throughout the school year.

DeSana has a School Resource Officer (SRO), Deputy Stephen Lavin. He is on our campus on a daily basis, checking on things, talking to our students, and getting to know them. All middle schools in the district now have a front entrance with a "buzz-in" and intercom feature for entrance after students have entered for the morning. All visitors must come to this single door and be buzzed in by a front office secretary who has a wide view of the entire person and the surrounding area. Strict and technologically-sophisticated sign-in procedures for visitors, once they are buzzed in, are in place, and a driver's license is required to check out a student.

Some of DeSana's standard operating procedures are to have our head custodian check the entire facility and campus early each morning to look for any unusual objects. Phones are in every classroom, and administrators are in constant communication with each other, our SRO, and the front office through radios, as well as with the school district's safety office via the use of cell phones. Our school phones come equipped with sophisticated technology that allows for tracing phone calls in the event of a bomb threat or other threatening phone calls.

Our FCS Code of Conduct prohibits students from wearing over-length, over-sized, and baggy clothing, including coats inside the building, so that weapons and other contraband are less likely to be hidden on students. The FCS Dress Code is enforced at DeSana.

All Forsyth County school buses are equipped with two-way radios so that they can be in constant communication with the transportation department and the school. They are also equipped with GPS so that bus locations may be tracked at all times.

Diligent supervision of our students by our entire staff, from the moment they step foot on campus until they leave, is a daily practice. Talking to our students about safety being a top priority, and letting them know that it is their responsibility also to let an adult know immediately if they see or hear something that could jeopardize this safety, is a practice we began the first week of school, and we will continue to preach throughout the school year. Rest assured any information of this nature that is shared with an administrator, counselor or teacher is held in strictest confidence.

These are just some of the practices and procedures we have in place. We hope you will spend some time with your middle schooler over the next few days and throughout the year discussing the importance of all these safety procedures, and let him/her know that it is also your expectation that he/she take personal responsibility in reporting anything he/she sees or hears that could jeopardize the safety of any or all of our students and staff. We encourage you, parents, that any time you have concerns about the safety or well-being of your child, you will not hesitate to call a DeSana administrator to discuss these concerns. We want Desana to be a place where all students, staff and parents feel safe and comfortable. But we need everyone's help to keep it that way throughout this school year. Thanking you in advance for your help and support when it comes to the safety of our young Dragons.

Important Reminder About Free & Reduced Meal Applications

Parents, we encourage you to complete a Free and Reduced-Priced meal application on-line, if you have the need, at http://schoolmealapp.forsyth.k12.ga.us. The application is easy to complete and can be processed quickly, with results usually in one day. On-line applications also help cut down on meal charges because paper applications can take as long as 10 days to process. A NEW Free & Reduced meal application must be completed each year prior to September 15th. If you have any questions, please call Joe Sanders at 770-888-3473 extension 202427 or email at jsanders@forsyth.k12.ga.us.


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Forsyth County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or gender in employment decisions or educational programs and activities.