Better Together

News from the Clarke County School District • 1/20/23

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Scenes around CCSD...

It's been another exciting and busy couple of weeks around CCSD with students engaged in many activities. Among the many highlights:
  • Student groups from Gaines, Howard B. Stroud, Chase Street, and Barnett Shoals elementary schools and Clarke Central High participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in downtown Athens on Monday, Jan. 16.
  • Mrs. Miller's third-grade reading group at Cleveland Road Elementary conducted a project-based learning experience where they researched how engineers build earthquake-resistant buildings and used the engineering design process to design and create an earthquake-resistant structure that could withstand a Jell-o simulated earthquake.

Follow CCSD on Facebook, and also be sure to visit each school's page for more photos of activities from around the district.

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Congratulations to all of the CCSD school-level spelling bee winners who will compete in the district-wide bee on Friday, Jan. 27!

The district bee will begin at 10 a.m. in the Vernon Payne Meeting Hall at the CCSD administrative offices building. The bee will be live-streamed and available for on-demand viewing on the district YouTube channel.

The district winner will advance to the region bee next month and contend for a spot in the state spelling bee in March.

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CCSD Students Rack Up Awards at Regional Science Fair

CCSD middle school students won a total of 21 awards Friday, Jan. 13, in the Northeast Georgia Regional Science Fair at the Oconee County Civic Center, and several qualified to compete in the state science fair this coming spring!

Hilsman Middle students Caitlin Smith and Savannah Rawls won the Junior Division Pinnacle Award — for having the top score at the middle school level — for their project, "Are Air Purifiers Effective and Worth the Money?" The project was also a winner of the American Chemical Society Award.

Caitlin’s and Savannah’s project was one of six Gold Medal projects by CCSD students, all of which qualified for the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, set for March 30 through April 1 at the Classic Center in Athens.

Other Gold Medal winners included:

  • Clarke Middle students Bram Cohen and Patrick Coverdill for their project, “River Water Quality.” The project also won the Upper Oconee Watershed Network Water Champion Award.
  • Clarke Middle students Liya Taylor, Liza Larson, and Claire Murthy for their project, “The Skin-E on Moisturizing Methods.” The project also won the American Chemical Society Award.
  • Clarke Middle student Kate Hinger for her project, “Horse Hydration Helper.”
  • Hilsman Middle student Brooke Wallace for her project, “Going Nuts for Walnuts (And Pecans And Acorns).”
  • Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle student Kennedi Hooks for her project, “Giddy Guinea Pigs.”

Clarke Middle silver medalist Mitchell Whicker’s project, “Collecting Pollutants from Streams,” was a winner of the American Chemical Society Award.

Other Silver Medal winners from CCSD included:

  • Zarema Douris and Coralie Ramsey from Clarke Middle
  • Charles Graff and Lucas Barner from BHL Middle
  • Willow Selleck, Anna Flath, and Adriana Ozuna from Clarke Middle
  • Zachary Pomeroy from Hilsman Middle
  • Keiwon Metcalf from Hilsman Middle
  • Miriam Silk and Lou Pifer-Mills from Clarke Middle
  • Clara Pardue, Ben Landry, and Grady Dunston from Clarke Middle.

Bronze Medal winners from CCSD included:

  • Zackary Green, AJ Brutzman, and Ryan King from Hilsman Middle
  • Rene Rodriguez-Antunez and Grayson Hebert from BHL Middle.

Congratulations to all these students and a special thank you to the teachers who coached them through the process — Ms. Audrey Hughes (Clarke Middle), Ms. Diarra Mosley, Mr. Joshua Truitt, and Ms. Carter Johnson (Hilsman Middle), and Mr. Marlin Wright (BHL Middle)!

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Stroud Teachers Receive Positive Partnership Award from RESA

Congratulations to Howard B. Stroud Elementary first-grade teacher Lauren Benbrook and co-teacher Laura Rhicard for receiving the Positive Partnership Award from Northeast Georgia RESA (Regional Educational Services Agency)!

Ms. Benbrook and Ms. Rhicard received the award for their work with a visually-impaired (VI) student in collaboration with the NEGA RESA Shared Services VI team. The nomination from the Shared Services team read in part:

"The VI student in (Ms. Benbrook's and Ms. Rhicard's) classroom feels supported, valued, and included in a way that is oftentimes rare for VI students in a mainstream setting. Ms. Benbrook creates an environment where all of her students are able to thrive both academically and social-emotionally. One example that stands out in my mind (is) Ms. Benbrook has the braille

alphabet in her room and has encouraged braille collaboration within her classroom so that

the other students can benefit from learning the basics of UEB (Unified English Braille). She makes learning fun!"

Members of the Shared Services team surprised Ms. Benbrook and Ms. Rhicard with the award at school on Thursday, Jan. 19, during their collaborative teaching segment.

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Clarke Central Student Makes All-State Band

Clarke Central High senior trumpet player Nikolas "Nik" Sweet recently had a successful audition for the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band and earned ninth chair for the entire state.

Nik will represent Clarke Central on the state level March 2-4, among other talented students from across Georgia, in performances at the Classic Center in Athens.

Congratulations, Nic!

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Clarke Central High Earns AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Clarke Central High has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in its AP Computer Science A class. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses.

More than 1,100 institutions achieved either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science exam takers meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population during the 2021-22 school year. In 2022, Clarke Central was one of 209 schools recognized in the category of AP Computer Science A.

Read more here.

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Alps Road Elementary Student's Children's Book Available for Purchase!

Last Friday, Jan. 13, was a fun special afternoon at Alps Road Elementary, as the school celebrated kindergartener Genesis Najera Padilla and the publishing of her first book!

"Number Fun," which Genesis dedicated to her sister, is a book designed to teach young children how to count in a fun and engaging way. The book was published by nonprofit Leap for Literacy through its partner program, Share Your Story.

Leap for Literacy founder and children's author Stanley Tucker has made multiple visits to Alps Road and taught students about the process of creating and publishing a book. Genesis won the school Share Your Story competition as a pre-K student last school year to have her book published by Leap for Literacy.

Since Genesis could not make it to the recent Share Your Story awards banquet, the school held its own celebration, and Mr. Tucker was in attendance to help her unveil the book cover to her classmates and read to them. Genesis also signed a copy of her book and placed a bar code on it so fellow students can check it out from the Alps Road library shelf.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon here.

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CCSD Students in the News!

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Joshua Sampson Memorial 5K Set for Feb. 4

Cedar Shoals High will host the inaugural Joshua Sampson Memorial 5K on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 8 a.m. to honor the memory of the late Cedar Shoals teacher.

Come out to run or walk with the Cedar Shoals community, and participate in one of Mr. Sampson's life passions. Registration is $20, and the price increases to $25 after Friday, Jan. 20.

Register for the race here, and don't forget to post pictures of yourself to social media and tag CCSD (@ClarkeCoSchools) with the hashtag #CCSDNewYearNewYou.

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CCSD's pre-K and kindergarten early registration period for the 2023-24 school year will be held Monday, Feb. 20, through Saturday, Feb. 25, in the district gymnasium, located at 595 Prince Ave., Athens.

Click here or download the PDF document below for more information.

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Discounted Internet Service Available for CCSD Families

Families of CCSD students may be eligible to receive free or discounted internet service under the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The ACP provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households. The benefit also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.

All households with a child who was approved to receive free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program within the last 12 months, including children who attend schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), are eligible for ACP benefits.

CCSD is a CEP district; therefore, all families with children enrolled in the current school year are eligible.

Click here for more information on eligibility and steps for applying for discounted Internet service.

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Family and Community Engagement Updates

School Leaders Speak with State Officials about Community Schools Success at Stroud

On Jan. 12, Soraia Felgenhauer, CCSD’s Director of Family and Community Engagement, and Howard B. Stroud Elementary principal Dr. Stacie Carson held a virtual meeting with Bryan Smith from the Georgia Department of Education Office of Whole Child Supports and Alissa Sasser from the Governor’s Office of Rural Education and Innovation to discuss the implementation of the Community Schools strategy at Stroud.

Dr. Carson and Ms. Felgenhauer spoke about the innovative projects that have directly impacted Stroud students and families through a focus on improved academic achievement, an increased sense of belonging, and more work development opportunities for parents. Lolita Bryant-Moye, Stroud’s Community School Organizer, has implemented the strategy with fidelity and continues to close gaps, bring parents’ voices to the table, and encourage student participation.

A few projects currently in progress are:

• the school’s Meal Center

• an ongoing collaboration with Books for Keeps and Creature Comforts in bringing literacy mentors to support students and improve their literacy levels

• a program in collaboration with the Innovative Healthcare Institute to help parents with work development and education. The institute offers adult classes at the school that will provide parents certification in various medical health-care areas, opening doors for more employment opportunities.

The Department of Family and Community Engagement continues to work closely with school administration, collecting and analyzing data and implementing a whole-child model approach to bring innovations and programs to impact the “whole child.”

"I was so encouraged and inspired by the work at this school, and I look forward to hearing from Soraia about more at a future meeting,” said Ms. Sasser.

“It was very rewarding intrinsically to hear (Dr. Carson) speak on the behalf of the Community Schools strategy and the Community School Organizer’s work within her school, families, and communities,” Mr. Smith added. “Not only is the work being done, but they had the qualitative and quantitative data to show impact and results.”

The department will continue to bring the same results in all other schools that directly feel the impact of the work of the CSOs through the implementation of a strategy that changes mindsets, is based on collaboration, and brings all stakeholders to the table to impact the students and their education.

MLK Day of Service

The Department of Family and Community Engagement helped organize the MLK Day of Service event on Monday, Jan. 16, with an opening ceremony at Clarke Central High, followed by service projects at schools around the district, and then lunch at Clarke Central following the service work. Here are a few photos from the event.

Upcoming Family Literacy Event at Whit Davis Elementary

Casa de Amistad, an Athens-based nonprofit that works to identify and address the needs of the local Hispanic community, and CCSD are partnering to host a family literacy event on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to noon at Whit Davis Elementary, 1450 Whit Davis Rd., Athens.

Colombian children’s author Yolanda Puente will be speaking and providing parents with tips to help them incorporate reading into their everyday routines with their children.

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Bus Drivers Wanted!

CCSD is now hiring bus drivers. Hourly pay ranges from $18-$26, and we offer part-time and full-time schedules, a $1,500 signing bonus (for full-time employment), and full benefits. It's a rewarding and flexible career move.

Click here to see what's waiting for you behind the wheel!

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How to Address Questions, Concerns

Have a question or concern that you'd like to address? CCSD has put together a matrix of who to reach out to depending on the situation.

Please click here to view this information. You can also go to CCSD's main site at, go to the "I Want To" tab at the top of the page, and select “Ask a Question/Submit a Concern.”

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Board of Education News

Board Contact Information, Meetings

The Clarke County Board of Education welcomes community feedback. Here are ways you can share your voice:

  • Contact BOE Members: Click here to view a list of the BOE members and their contact information.
  • Attend a Meeting: Next regular meeting is Thursday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. (in-person and broadcast on the CCSD YouTube channel).
  • Board Briefs: Click to read the "Board Briefs" overview from meetings.
  • Public Comments: Click here for information on how to sign-up to speak at a regular BOE meeting.
  • Review Policies for Review: View and comment on district policies pending public review.
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