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Berkmar High hosts food drive for CARE closet

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Peachtree Ridge High School students Lauren and Steven Seroyer started the first CARE closet in Gwinnett. There are several across the county, and Berkmar High has held food drives to supports its CARE closet.

During the recent Clody Memorial Invitational, Berkmar High’s swim and dive team hosted a food drive for the school’s Community Assistance and Resource Effort, or CARE, closet.

CARE closets have grown in popularity in recent months across Gwinnett, and are in several schools.

A CARE Closet is a confidential school-based food pantry available to students who don’t have access to enough food. Berkmar High is one of four known Gwinnett schools that have CARE Closets.

The original CARE Closet was started by siblings at Peachtree Ridge.

Berkmar plans to host another food drive during a countywide swimming and diving meet from Jan. 18 through Jan. 21. Continue reading

Grayson High School senior works with Lawrenceville PD to host ‘Bridge the Gap’ forum

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Ephraim Kum, 18, worked with the Lawrenceville Police Department to establish the first Bridge the Gap forum.

Grayson High School senior Ephraim Kum wasn’t comfortable just watching clashes between the African-American community and the police across the country this past summer.

He wanted to do something.

“I pictured a summit where people could discuss the issues of race and police engagements with African-Americans in a safe and productive and peaceful manner,” he said.

The 18-year-old began working with Capt. Tim Wallis from the Lawrenceville Police Department in the fall to create the department’s first Bridge the Gap Forum, which will take place next week.

Kum’s race and police activism in Lawrenceville began when his parents refused to let him join the protests in Atlanta after a rash of controversial police shootings across the country.

“My friend Annie and I wanted to go down to Atlanta to participate in one of the marches, but both our parents concluded it was too unsafe,” he said. “So we decided to do something local.

He said about 142 people showed up to the peaceful sit-in he hosted.

That’s when he met Wallis, the police official he called several months later when he came up with the idea for a race discussion forum.

Now, Kum is ready to host another peaceful group of people.

“And here we are, a week away from the forum,” he said.

Residents will gather Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of Lawrenceville City Hall in the council chambers to talk to a panel made up of two law enforcement officials and two civic members. The panel will also take feedback from the residents.

The whole discussion should last about two hours. Continue reading

Lanier leadership event focuses on diversity, inclusivity

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Eliel Bustos, a fifth-grader at Sycamore Elementary School, works with classmates on the human knot leadership exercise at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. Students from across the Lanier cluster gathered for the third annual leadership conference where they learned an anti-bullying and anti-bias message.

Given the cultural climate of America today, students across the Lanier cluster on Friday focused on an element of leadership that is in short supply.

Austin Paschall, a junior at Lanier High School, served as a leader mentor at the third annual Student Leadership Conference at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. Paschall said he learned the fundamentals of leadership when he was a younger child, like many of the students he led, and he hoped to pass that on to them. This is the second year he’s helped with the event.

“Being a leader is more than just telling people what to do,” he said. “It’s about connecting with other people and actually listening to them.”

Some of the activities that the 150 students in third grade through high school participated consisted of identifying on a map where their family’s heritage began around the world. Another station took a heart map called “let’s do some heart surgery” which centered on areas of their life to forgive others. They also decorated doll figures in their own likeness.

More than a dozen Lanier High School students served as leaders and facilitators. This year’s theme was, “One Voice, One Community, Lanier Cluster Schools.” Continue reading

Gwinnett school bus driver wins gold in world track and field event

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Emma McGowan, 48, a GCPS bus drive wont two gold medals at the World Masters Track and Field Championship in Perth, Australia.

Emma McGowan not only won her second gold medal in a track event, she made up for a silver medal finish the year before.

McGowan, 48, a Gwinnett County Public Schools bus driver, won two gold medals at the World Masters Track and Field Championship in Perth, Australia, which was held over the last week of October and the first week of November. McGowan, who drives a bus that carries special education students and is the mother of twins, won gold in the 100 meters and 200 meters. She schedules training around her hours driving the bus.

McGowan said she trains for several hours between morning and afternoon routes — three times a week outdoors and once or twice in a gym — but that schedule flexibility is not the best part of her job.

“The best part of my job is that I get to take my daughter to school,” McGowan said. “My daughter is autistic and I love being able to take her to school and pick her up. That way I know she and the other students are in great hands.”

McGowan is now a two-time gold medal winner in the 100 meters. In 2015 she won gold in the World Masters Athletics Championship in her native France while also taking home silver in the 200 meters and 400 meters.

The World Masters Track and Field Championships are the biennial championships for masters athletics events held under the auspices of World Masters Athletics. Athletes who compete in the World Masters Athletic events must be at least 35 years old.

“It is awesome,” McGowan said. “It takes a lot of hard work, especially for me. It is not easy, but I love it.”

GDP online article


Robotics teams gear up for Creekland Super Regional!

Friday, January 13th, 2017

In this file photo, Lilburn Middle School students Razat Sutradhar and Tai Do watch their Lego Mindstorms robot compete on the table at the First Lego League Super Regional at Creekland Middle School in Lawrenceville.

In an annual tradition that’s now reached a decade, Creekland Middle School on Saturday will host 32 teams for the second level of competition in Georgia for the First Lego League.

This year’s theme is called “Animal Allies” and centers on human-animal interactions where students are asked to identify a problem and come up with a solution. As an example, one team focused on disappearing bees to see if cell towers might have something to do with that.

Robotics competitions with the Georgia First Lego League have grown in popularity in recent years. In the last year, Georgia jumped from fifth in the nation to first, now with 679 teams, said Bob Kraushaar, the FLL coach at Creekland and tournament director. About 100 of those teams reside in Gwinnett, and more than 20 of those are expected at the event, which starts at 9:30 a.m. The Super Regional competition is one of seven around the state this month.

 “We right now are viewed as one of the strongest venues. The teams that come through Creekland are some of the stronger teams in the state, primarily because of the coaches and kids that we have and the support that we have in Gwinnett County,” Kraushaar said. Continue Reading

Patrick Elementary among schools gearing up for Gwinnett Science Fair

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Allison Askew, math instructor coach at the school, and fifth-grader Bradley Blodgett pose for a picture on Thursday morning after the Patrick ES science fair, which had about 300 projects. Bradley studied the amount of grease in potato chips. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

For the better part of three months, students at Patrick Elementary have worked toward a singular goal: To build a science fair project that impresses the judges and might help them learn something to use as an adult.

That kind of work has played out across Gwinnett as students gear up for the Gwinnett Science, Engineering and Innovation Fair next month, an event in its fourth decade. Students in every grade at Patrick put together a project, said Allison Askew, math instructor coach at the school, which totaled about 300 that were presented for community volunteers who served as judges on Thursday morning. The top five finalists advance to the Gwinnett Science Fair.

“We make sure our students are getting prepared to be productive lifelong learners,” Askew said. “We allow them to investigate science topics that interest them. So they can make their own real-world connections.”

 Students are judged on communicating their results, show an analysis of their data and do thorough research.

Since October, students have worked on these projects.

“It’s always exciting to see that culmination of that hard work come together,” Askew said. “Our teachers are so proud of our students and their smiling faces and be able to share with, not just teachers or staff members, but a lot in the community.”

One project came from fifth-grader Bradley Blodgett, who studied the amount of grease in potato chips, including regular and baked, and vegetable straws. Blodgett said his initial hypothesis, which said that original Lay’s chips would have the most grease compared to Pringles, stood up.

Blodgett said the science fair process helped he and his classmates gather information that they might use in a future career. Complete story in GDP.

Dad builds hammock for Gwinnett special education classroom

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Rosebud Elementary School parent Joe Kain designed a stand for the hammock in a special needs classroom at the school to help students stay calm and focus. Kain’s employer, TSI Solutions, donation the supplies.

The typical school supply list at Rosebud Elementary didn’t include a hammock, but it’s turned out to be one of the most popular and useful items around.

Lisa Trantham, a second-grade special education teacher at the school, wanted to put a hammock in her classroom but initially couldn’t find one that worked.

 Her idea was to install something that would help the students relax, or take a break from a particular task.

That’s when parent Joe Kain stepped in, bringing his engineering talent to the school. His employer, TSI Solutions, donated the supplies and Kain designed a stand for the hammock that’s proven to be a hit.

“It has been in non-stop use since Mr. Kain installed it,” Trantham said. “It’s so multi-functional — the kids can sit, lie down, swing, curl up, or just rest — they can self-select the sensory input they need. We have repeatedly observed the calming and focusing effect that this has on our students.”


Students in a second-grade special education classroom at Rosebud Elementary use a hammock designed and built by a parent. The hammock is designed to help students remain calm and focus, and it’s proven to be popular, teacher Lisa Trantham said.

Kain added that his company is committed to giving back to the community and the time he spent designing and building the stand were his way of saying thank you to Trantham. Kain said his daughter, Mckayla, made exceptional improvement this year in Trantham’s classroom.

“It was the least I could do to try and give back to her and the school system,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to provide them as much support as I can, including my professional engineering services, assembly and maintenance, and materials. I want to make sure every child in the program has the best therapy equipment possible so that they can enjoy a learning environment that will nurture their special, and many times, unique needs.” Link to article in GDP.

Brookwood teacher receives another honor for entrepreneurship program!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Jody Reeves, left, executive director, Academies, Career and Technical Education and Brookwood High School teacher Cindy Quinlan celebrate Quinlan being named National Teacher of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education.

It’d be difficult to pinpoint a better stretch professionally for Cindy Quinlan.

The Brookwood High School teacher picked up another honor, the third time she, or the program she works with, has been honored or received a monetary donation.

This time, Quinlan was awarded the 39th annual Leavey Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. As part of the recognition, she will receive $7,500.

Quinlan was one of 12 educators from around America presented with the award at the 96th annual National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Washington.

“To be welcomed into this family of elite educators is very humbling,” Quinlan said in a press release.

In September, Quinlan was the key teacher involved in the program that Gwinnett County Public Schools awarded the Brookwood cluster of schools $250,000 to expand its student entrepreneurship program at the high school level to include other schools in the Brookwood cluster.

The students will learn business skills based on their grade level such as starting a school business, having class jobs, pitching ideas, public speaking and marketing. The program is a partnership between the city and schools that teaches students standard skills while they learn to develop a small business.

Also last year, Quinlan was named National Teacher of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education. She previously won the the ACTE Region II Teacher of the year Award. She is the work-based learning coordinator, marketing teacher and co-DECA advisor at Brookwood High School. Continue reading

Jordan Middle among STEAM honorees

Monday, January 9th, 2017

jordan-msFive schools in Georgia, including one in Gwinnett, are being recognized nationally for inspiring change in their local communities through STEAM education.

Jordan Middle School in Lawrenceville is among the finalists for creating a hydroponic gardening system.

The five schools were recently named state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a competition that encourages students to solve issues in their community using science, technology, engineering, arts and math for a chance to win a share of $2 million in technology.

The five Georgia schools were among the nation’s 255 state finalists in a program that encourages students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in STEAM.

The state finalist schools were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEAM learning. As state finalists, each classroom will receive one Samsung Galaxy Tab and the opportunity to advance in the competition and win additional prizes. Continue reading

Coleman Middle eighth-graders help third-graders with STEM lesson

Monday, January 9th, 2017

coleman-msEighth-grade students from Coleman Middle School recently worked with their teachers to create a project-based learning project about the rock cycle for students at Chattahoochee Elementary School. The eighth-graders worked two months on the project that focused on the rock cycle.

The 65 older students used it to teach students in nine third-grade classes at the nearby elementary school.

“I didn’t think I would like to work with younger kids, but they were so excited to learn from us. I felt like a positive role model, and that was amazing,” said Sidney Wright, an eighth-grader at Coleman.

 Added Coleman’s STEM coordinator Cheri Jones, “Part of STEAM learning for Coleman teachers and students is to work within the community to create excitement and understanding of what we do each day.”
 Added Coleman’s STEM coordinator Cheri Jones, “Part of STEAM learning for Coleman teachers and students is to work within the community to create excitement and understanding of what we do each day.