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06/02/2017

It was a festive scene inside Jenkins Elementary on Wednesday afternoon as students, teachers and administrators were minutes away from summer.

The halls were lined with students, several with posters that said things such as, “Good luck in middle school,” “Happy last day,” and “Congratulations fifth-graders.” Teachers held tambourines and maracas, and in between tears, some recorded the festivities on cell phone videos.

It was all a buildup to the fifth-grade parade, an annual event where Jenkins’ fifth-graders said their final goodbyes as they walk out into the double line of buses and into summer. The last day of school meant they’d soon be known as Jordan Middle sixth-graders, and walk in the doors up the hill.

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06/02/2017

Writing at least five letters a day, it didn’t take long for the the hand cramps to set in.

For Megan Hawes, a soft-spoken but caring member of the Brookwood High Class of 2017, that writing turned into a burst of smiles Wednesday morning as she was mobbed with hugs and well wishes from dozens of classmates.
Hawes, who plans to enroll at Kennesaw State University in the fall and eventually become a pilot, took on a daunting task this school year to ensure that every member of her graduating class would receive a letter.
 
“It was a lot of hand cramps,” Hawes said. “I had to write at least five a day, and some days I’d do the whole weekend, or I’d have to go to my grandmother’s so I didn’t have any distractions. … It takes a lot of time to think about what to say.”

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05/24/2017

More than 12,000 students plan to graduate in the coming days from Gwinnett County Public Schools as the district described the class of 2017 as the largest and most decorated to date.

“They are among the best prepared of any graduating class and are prepared for the next chapter in their lives,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said in a press release. “We wish them well and congratulate them on their hard work and persistence, knowing they are ready for the future. And, while the focus is on the graduates at this time of year, I also would like to thank their families, the thousands of dedicated teachers, and the committed administrators who provided support and guidance to them throughout the years.”

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05/24/2017

Gwinnett’s reigning Teacher of the Year on Thursday was named among the top 10 finalists for Georgia Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Department of Education.

The 10 finalists were chosen from a pool of 150 applicants, and all were previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners and finalists, administrators, community leaders and others.

The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.
Gwinnett County Public Schools’ TOTY, Jamie Lynn McFarland, who teaches third through fifth grade Severe/Profound Intellectual Disabilities at Rock Springs Elementary, was given the district award in November.

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05/21/2017

Like a lot of previous induction classes from the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, the five-person Class of 2017 spanned a vast range of generations and backgrounds.

From the athletic and coaching career of Jack Britt in the the post-World War II years to Tony Akins’ basketball career in the late 1990s to the more recent heydays of Courtney Puckett-Oros, Chad Hall and Kyle Maynard, Friday night’s induction ceremony — hosted by South Gwinnett grad and Fox 5 Atlanta TV personality Buck Lanford with Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn as the keynote speaker — for this year’s class was in some ways a Gwinnett County history lesson.

 

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05/16/2017

As a teacher at Chesney Elementary, Kara Cowdrick saw a need that stretched beyond the school year. It took some help from her mom’s van, but they eventually met the need.

“Every year, I noticed that kids weren’t excited about going home for the summer,” Cowdrick said. “When we dug a little deeper, they were bored. We see this every year, and we’re not doing anything about it?”

That inspired Cowdrick to apply for a grant two years ago from Atlanta Families for Excellence in Education. She won the grant for $7,500, with $3,500 going toward a bookmobile, to better serve students throughout the summer with reading books. This summer, a local car dealership has come along and offered help, and beginning May 31 and occuring on Wednesdays throughout the summer, students will have access to a host of books to encourage reading.

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