CCSD Connections

A Monthly Parent Newsletter - February 2021

Superintendent's Message

Dear CCSD Family,

I know every day, especially today as it's Feb. 2, has felt a little like Groundhog Day and its namesake movie for the past year. Not only are we still hoping for days without the shadow of the pandemic, but we're also struggling with what we'd hoped would be temporary stresses that instead feel neverending.

But unlike that movie's plot, we do have the opportunity to move forward every day. Our temporary shutdown last month allowed our community to get healthier, our hospitals to return to more normal caseloads, and our healthcare workers to administer more vaccines. We all need to continue to do our part by social distancing, wearing masks and taking quarantines seriously so we can further flatten the curve.

Our students are leading the way with their impressive entries in our poster and video contest designed to give them a voice in encouraging their classmates -- and their community as a whole -- to wear masks. You can see their winning entries below, and I hope you will heed their call and join us in wearing a mask to protect others.

Not only are our schools celebrating February's numerous holidays and important observances, including Black History Month and Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Month, we also already are beginning plans for the new school year.

We've opened the window for our school choice program; our Pre-K application process starts Feb. 8; we're finalizing plans to soon open kindergarten online registration; our zero-based budgeting process is underway; and we've announced plans for our annual job fair, which this year will be a virtual event on March 6.

On a somber note, many of you may have heard the sad news we shared with all of our employees last week that then was reported on by Atlanta media. One of our school bus drivers, a 63-year-old man who had served his students with great pride and care for the last three years, was hospitalized after Christmas and sadly passed away Thursday. He will be missed by his CCSD family and by all who loved him.

When this pandemic began hurting our community a year ago, I often would end my messages with the mantras that we're all in this together, and that we're better together and stronger together. A year later, I still believe in the power of our community to care for each other and help each other through this crisis ... and I hope you do, too.

Thank you,

Dr. Brian V. Hightower

Superintendent of Schools



The first-place winning posters, from left to right, were created by Bascomb Elementary School second-grader Keiko Bruno, E.T. Booth Middle School eighth-grader Zachary Gonzalez and Creekview High School 10th-grader Katie LaCoco. See the second-place posters and photos from the surprise award presentations on our website here.

CCSD Celebrates Student Mask PSA Contest Winners

The Cherokee County School District on Monday surprised the winners of its poster and video contests to seek students’ help in encouraging mask usage among their classmates.

CCSD students in grades 6-12 were invited to create and enter a short public service announcement-style video that educates students about the benefits of mask usage by students at school, and students in grades K-12 were invited to design and enter a poster promoting the same message. The winning videos and posters will be used in CCSD schools and on CCSD websites and social media to promote student mask usage.

The first-place winners are: for the poster contest, Elementary School - Keiko Bruno, Bascomb ES, second grade; Middle School - Zachary Gonzalez, E.T. Booth MS, eighth grade; High School - Katie LaCoco, Creekview HS, 10th grade; for the video contest, Middle School - Chloe Feibus, Creekland MS, eighth grade; High School - Kara Simons, Creekview HS, 11th grade.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower on Monday visited the winning students’ schools to present them with their prizes, funded with donations from CCSD Partners. The video first-place winners each earned a $300 Amazon gift card, and the poster first-place winners each earned a $150 Amazon gift card. The poster winners also received framed copies of the poster featuring their winning design; posters are being printed for display in the appropriate grade-level schools districtwide.

“We received dozens of outstanding entries from our students promoting the importance of wearing masks at school during this pandemic,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, noting that entries were judged for message, quality and creativity. “Not only did they impress us with their creativity and skill, whether in drawing and painting or in scripting and filming, but they also expressed themselves clearly in their messaging as role models for their peers. Congratulations and thank you!”

The contest also recognized second-place winners: for the poster contest, Elementary School - William Shaffer, Boston ES, third grade; Middle School - Emalee Bennett, Dean Rusk MS, eighth grade; High School - Chansia White, Woodstock HS, ninth grade; for the video contest, Middle School - Adrian Shaffer, E.T. Booth MS, sixth grade; High School - Mary Grace Chandler, River Ridge HS, 12th grade. The video second-place winners each earned a $100 Amazon gift card, and the poster second-place winners each earned a $50 Amazon gift card. Second-place poster winners also received framed copies or their posters and will see their posters printed for display in their own school.

You can watch the first-place winning videos below; the second-place winners are posted on our website here.


CCSD Mask PSA Video Contest Middle School First Place
The first-place winner in the video contest for the middle school division is this video by Creekland Middle School eighth-grader Chloe Feibus.
CCSD Mask PSA Video Contest High School First Place
The first-place winner in the video contest for the high school division is this video by Creekview High School 11th-grader Kara Simons.



Mike McGowan, CCSD's Chief of Staff

When the Georgia State Legislature is in session, as it is every winter, you'll find CCSD's Chief of Staff working overtime to advocate for CCSD's students, teachers and support staff.

Mike McGowan, who began his career with CCSD in 1997 as it's public relations director, now serves as the District's Chief of Staff, a role with many responsibilities including inter-governmental relations with legislators, as well as county and city officials, agencies and policymakers; and assisting the Superintendent and School Board in developing, updating and implementing School Board Policies and major District priorities.

“It can be challenging to work through the political process in order to accomplish what is best for CCSD students and staff, but it is an honor to work alongside our School Board,

Superintendent and senior staff to ensure a top-notch education for our students and to

support the best interest of our employees,” Mr. McGowan said.

The School Board's current annual Legislative Partnership Priorities, guide Mr. McGowan's advocacy on behalf of CCSD.

The current Priorities include a restoration of State funding for education, which for the current school year was cut by 10% - amounting to a $23.3 Million loss for CCSD. The School Board has asked legislators to not only restore that funding, but also to raise funding for education to fully cover the actual cost of services, such as Special Education and transportation.

Other priorities outlined in the report include lobbying for the return of a second diploma option focused on workforce readiness skills; and maintaining local control and management of schools, including the ability to set local school year calendars. The School Board also strongly opposes a proposal by Rep. Wes Cantrell, a local private school founder, to seek taxpayer-funded vouchers that would ultimately shift taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools like his own.




Please check your school’s website and social media for school event information.

Feb. 11: 7 p.m., School Board Auditorium at Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, Cherokee County School Board Meeting.

Feb. 15-19: February Break. All CCSD schools closed.

March 6: 9 a.m. to Noon, CCSD Job Fair to be held virtually. Sign up now at


Sign up now! The Cherokee County School District’s annual Job Fair will be a virtual event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 6. The event will focus on hiring teachers, bus drivers, school nurses, School Nutrition workers and more for the 2021-22 school year. Visit to sign up to participate. #CCSDfam


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