A Polar Express Literacy Night – December 13th!

Community, Rebel's Corner

Calling all believers! Blue Ridge Elementary, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary,
and Fannin County High School will be co-hosting a free literacy event on Thursday, December
13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Fannin County High School campus. Students, families,
and community members are invited to come immerse themselves in a joyous holiday
experience. Following the festival, the Swan Drive-in will present a showing of The Polar
Express at 6:15 p.m. as a fundraiser for literacy programming at the schools.

Pick up your map to the North Pole at the FCHS main entrance to guide you around the campus to our various activities; if you get lost along the way, a wandering elf will help direct you to your destination. If you are lucky, the conductor himself might even stop to punch your ticket!

Some of the interactive experiences offered will include themed crafting projects and a book walk. Wal-Mart and Ingles have generously donated a cookie decorating station and a hot chocolate bar. Home Depot will host a Holiday Builder’s workshop! Along the way to the Elf Workshop, where eager elves will assist with letter writing to Santa, feel free to peruse the artistic creations presented at the FCHS Gingerbread House Contest. The Fannin County Regional Library will also host on-site library card sign-up booth!

Also, various guest readers will provide dramatic readings of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar
Express. Santa Claus himself will be there for free pictures and to hear all your holiday wishes.
Community and PTO partnerships have also generously donated several door prizes to reward
the attendance of these avid readers. Please join us for this magical evening!

All children fifth grade and under will receive free admission into the film. All other tickets will
go on sale for the film at the Swan Drive-in on December 2, and ticket prices are $5 each. On
December 13, you will be able to purchase tickets to the Swan’s showing of the film at FCHS or
at the entrance to the Swan. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit future literacy projects.
Various other corporate and community sponsors are working together to help make this event a
success, and they will all be recognized at the event.

This event is designed to welcome all ages. If you would like more information, please feel free
to contact Sarah Welch, Literacy Coordinator, via email at swelch@fannin.k12.ga.us or by phone
at 706.632.2081 ext. 125. Follow event details on Facebook with Fannin County Schools, or use
#literacyexpress or #fanninreads on Twitter to share your experiences. Fannin County, a Get
Georgia Reading community, was awarded the L4GA grant at the end of last year, and we have a
lasting commitment to sustainably impact literacy at all levels!

West Fannin October Character Ed Winners – “Responsibility”

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

Character Ed word for the month of October was Responsibility.  The definition is “dependable and accountable for your words and actions; not blaming others for your mistakes”

These students were chosen for consistently displaying this character trait throughout the month.  Congratulations to all of you!

Pictured above from left to right- Front row: Hannah Carranza-Alvarez, Addie Welch, Rayleigh Schuknecht, Kage Cook, Ella Lackey, Jonathon Chambers, McKinley Sandefur, and Serenity Frazier.  Middle row:  Savannah Herndon, Riley Vaughan, Tallie Mull, Clay Dillard, Addy Plott, Colton Bradburn, and Toni Harrison.   Back row: Lesly Alvarado, Jamari Patterson, Will Jones, Grayson Rhoads, Fox Sharp, Casi Mealer, Carlee Klinesmith, and Lily Hawkins.  Not pictured:  Jada Harper

National School Lunch Week from West Fannin Elementary

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

National School Lunch Week was from October 15th – 19th. West Fannin’s nutrition department celebrated by giving out random prizes to students who ate school lunch. Our nutrition staff serves over 330 lunches each week with a smile on their face. We truly appreciate these ladies and everything they do for our students and staff.

School Lunch 9: Kindergarten student Khaleesi Roberson is very excited about winning a prize.

School Lunch 13: First-grade students Roger Runions and Natalie Ramirez win prizes for NSLW.



School Lunch 15 (Featured Image at top): Fifth-grade students all enjoying our school lunch – left side of table front to back: Crystal Dockery, Harley Stanley, Devon Meissner. Right side of the table front to back: Natalee Reeves, Michael Chastain, Eli Hughes.

Tim Mercier of Mercier’s Orchards visits West Fannin Elementary

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

Some third graders at West Fannin Elementary School were fortunate enough to visit with Tim Mercier of Mercier’s Orchards on Thursday, October 18th.  Mercier’s has worked with 1st and 3rd-grade students for two years in their apple orchard beginning with helping to plant our 15 trees.  These 15 trees are part of our on-going STEAM project.  Students learn about our three different types of apples in our orchard (Arkansas Black, Gold Rush, Crimson Topaz).  Students learn about the origin of the trees and how and when to plant the trees.  Students also go out once a month and measure each tree and graph them in a bar graph.  These graphs are then used to compare from month to month and from year to year the growth of the trees.  As students were measuring this month they noticed that some of our trees were not growing as we had hoped and that there were some brown spots on our leaves.  As they were researching they wanted to ask Mercier’s to come back and see our trees and help us to diagnose our problems.  Mr. Mercier was kind enough to come out and share with our students.  These students will now go back and redeliver the findings to the rest of the third-grade students.  As the kids would say, “ We now know our problem so now we will start planning on how we will create a solution to solve this problem.”

Picutred at the top: Tim Mercier, Brody Graham and Keats Miller (2 boys in front), Josalyn Deal and Sadie Patto

West Fannin Elementary joined in the Rivers Alive Clean-up

Rebel's Corner

By, Mrs. Mary Jean Pace, 4th grade science teacher

West Fannin Elementary had the great privilege of joining in the Rivers Alive Clean-up on Saturday, September 29th. We began our morning at WFES with a safety briefing from Trout Unlimited representative, Peggy Reich, who then passed out Rivers Alive t-shirts, gloves, trash bags, and bug spray. Students from Pre-K through fifth grade, along with family members, scoured our school campus, nature trail, and stream for trash and debris.



Some of the items removed included rubber tires, a toilet tank, rusty gallon cans, foam stuffing, metal poles cemented into rubber tires, as well as plastic containers and trash. After loading the trash and debris onto a trailer, we shared a delicious lunch and dessert by the river at Tammen Park, with many of our kids enjoying a wade or swim at the boat ramp! Our WFES Rivers Alive Clean-up Day was a great success! Cleaning our campus, nature trail, and stream of rubber tires, trash, and old building debris has made West Fannin a safer and more environmentally-healthy place to learn and enjoy! Thanks again to our families who attended as well as Trout Unlimited for including West

Fannin Elementary in the 2018 Rivers Alive clean-up!

West Fannin Elementary Hosts STEM Open House Night!

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

By: Lucas Roof, Principal


As a Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) STEM Certified school, West Fannin Elementary was chosen by the GaDOE to host multiple STEM Open House Days throughout this school year where educators and educational leaders throughout the state are invited to visit West Fannin.  West Fannin’s first STEM Open House of the school year took place on September 26th, 2018.


Approximately 20 visitors from across the state came to observe best practices in STEM education, to receive support and advice from West Fannin teachers and administrators on the topic of STEM education, and to have conversations with West Fannin’s students about STEM projects.  Many West Fannin business partners and stakeholders were also present for this STEM Open House to work with the students.  The visitors were impressed; this was an exciting and rewarding day for West Fannin.



West Fannin will also have STEM Open House Days on November 16th, 2018 and March 12th, 2019.









STEM Open House: 1st and 3rd grade working together in the orchard – Conner Reddin (1st grade) and Keats Miller (3rd grade)

STEM Open House 2: Chelsea Osborne (1st grade), Sadie Patton (3rd grade), Karlyn Martin (1st grade)

STEM Open House 3: 2nd grade students Owen Man and Luke Strobel. Second grade students are working to make plaques for the butterfly garden in Braille that identify the plants. Owen is using our Braille typewriter.

STEM Open House 4: Kindergarten students (left to right, front row) Ellee Gibbs, Rylee Burk, Tinsley Plush. Back Shaun Simmons

STEM Open House 5: 2nd grade students using the STEM Engineering Design Process to create windmills – Netalie Freeman, Kaylee Callahan, Triston Cross, Brody Ingle

STEM Open House 6: 5th grade investigative research team is working on the Phenology of leaves they are finding the average temperature outside – Natalee Reeves (sitting) and Kalyn Martin

West Fannin Elementary 3rd graders Make Solar Ovens

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

Feature Image – (left to right) – Georgia Hasson (striped dress), Madison Queen, Samantha Combs

On September 4th and 5th students in 3rd grade followed the STEM/STEAM process to create solar ovens. The challenge: Can you make a solar oven that will cook a s’more? Students were given various materials such as foam, black paper, aluminum foil,  and boxes. They could only use the materials provided for them. Students worked in small groups to plan and construct their oven. Then, the ovens were taken to the blacktop where students strategically placed them to cook the s’mores. There was another unplanned challenge: overcast weather.  However, students were not disappointed. They were able to see the rise in the temperature, record it, and do observations each 5 minutes.

By, April Shinpaugh, (3rd grade math teacher)

left to right) – Aeryauna Deal, Caroline Cole


Skylar Gazaway (sitting), Alissa Davenport

Acccomplishments told, retirees honored at Fannin Schools end-of-year meeting

Rebel's Corner

The Star Teacher and Student of the Year for the Fannin County School System were Sarah Welch, left, and Jordan Newman, respectively.

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Several school system accomplishments were mentioned and this school year’s retirees were honored at the end-of-the-year meeting of Fannin County Schools at the Performing Arts Center Wednesday, May 30.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney kicked the meeting off by announcing 198 students recently graduated from Fannin County High School.

“That’s reflective of the wonderful work that is done by the faculty and staff and leadership at Fannin County High School,” Gwatney added, “but it also speaks volumes for what happens at elementary and middle schools to prepare the students to get them to these levels.”

Gwatney also thanked the Board of Education for a 1 percent across-the-board permanent pay increase for school system personnel.

“And as I stand here before you today, always remember that you are a member of the greatest and most honorable profession,” the superintendent told the countless number of educators and school employees in attendance. “Ladies and gentlemen, ours is the one profession in which all professions must pass.”

Later, Board of Education member Steve Stanley praised Gwatney’s own leadership asking everyone in attendance, “Don’t you guys think that Dr. Gwatney did a great job this year?”

To this, the audience responded with a resounding round of applause for the superintendent.

Lewis DeWeese, BOE chairman, also spoke of the change he saw this year under Dr. Gwatney. “I’ve been saying it for the last year or so, our system has a new spirit, a new friendly, open, honest willingness to share (and) work together,” DeWeese stated.

BOE member Bobby Bearden also took a moment to thank the employees of the school system saying, “It’s been a blessing and an honor to work with people like you.”

Several awards and achievements, received both for schools and individuals throughout the school year, were recognized at the meeting.

This school year’s Teachers of the Year were also mentioned again during the meeting. Those educators included Erin Colbert, from Blue Ridge Elementary, Kathy Culpepper, from East Fannin Elementary, Amber Mitchell, from West Fannin Elementary, Nathasha Anderson, from Fannin County Middle, and Shan Culpepper, from Fannin County High. Culpepper also held the distinction of being Teacher of the Year for the entire school system.

The Star Teacher and Student of the Year for the Fannin County School System were Sarah Welch, left, and Jordan Newman, respectively.

Sarah Welch and Jordan Newman were also recognized this past school year for being the Star Teacher and Star Student of the Year for 2017-18, respectively.

Regarding the high school, Fannin County High School (FCHS) was also ranked statewide and nationally in U.S. News’ annual Best High Schools rankings. According to those rankings, FCHS was ranked 63 in the state and 2,593 in the nation. This was the third time in the last four years FCHS has been ranked by U.S. News in this category with the previous years being 2015 and 2017. The high school also earned a Silver Award for falling in the top 12 percent nationally.

Fannin County Middle School (FCMS) was also praised for its accomplishments, most notably in that the school placed first in an online Reading Bowl and fourth in face-to-face competition. FCMS also earned an honorary degree in life science.

Blue Ridge Elementary received recognition for earning a High Progress Award among Title 1 schools. High Progress Award schools are among the top 10 percent of Title 1 schools based on the three-year average of College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) progress scores.

East Fannin Elementary held the distinction this school year of being one of only five Family-Friendly Partnership Schools in the state of Georgia.

Also, West Fannin Elementary enjoyed the success of becoming the 36th Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) certified school in the state.

Twenty-five educators in the school system became certified as Level 1 Google Educators this school year. This status indicates that an educator is able to successfully implement Google Suite for Education into their teaching practice in order to enhance teaching and learning.

The Fannin County Schools nutritional program participated in the Shake It Up initiative this past school year.

The school system’s nutrition program participated in the Shake It Up initiative, which is a state-wide initiative to change the culture school nutrition in three areas: tasty meals, friendly cafeterias and happy schools. The nutrition programs at all five county schools received the Gold Award in this initiative.

The school system also took time to honor this year’s retirees throughout Fannin County Schools. Those retirees included:

· From Blue Ridge Elementary, media specialist Robbie Callihan and nutritionist Mildred Johnson;

· From East Fannin Elementary, teachers Katie Holloway and Lynn Weeks, academic coach Crystal Cooke, and paraprofessional Sandra Ross;

· From West Fannin Elementary, nutritionist Wanda Stewart and teacher Betty Holsonback;

Fannin County Schools honored 27 retirees from the school system at its end-of-the-year meeting Wednesday, May 30.

· From Fannin County Middle, teachers Cindy Wood and Linda Nave, and nutritionists Judy Glasgow, Sue Postell, and Gayle Queen;

· From Fannin County High, secretaries Robin Kirby and Gail Bennett, paraprofessional Phillip Nastyn, teachers Terry Callihan and Kim Kribbs, and nutritionists Amanda O’Neal and Leslie Perenich;

· System-wide deaf/hard of hearing teacher Marcie Harper and speech therapist Pam Lapham;

· School bus drivers Margie Kolesky and Sheryl Campbell;

· From the school system maintenance department, Archie Bice; and

· From the Central Office, accounts payable bookkeeper Connie Grindstaff and Associate Superintendent Betsy Hyde.

“What an honor this has been,” Gwatney told the retirees. “I wish you all the best.”

Following the ceremony, the rock band Apollo, which is comprised of three Fannin County students, played a spirited version of the Foo Fighters’ classic anthem “My Hero” as a tribute to the retirees as well as the existing educators and employees of the Fannin County School System.

Concluding the day’s event, Gwatney stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, we aspire to guide and lead the future, but most of all, you remember why we’re here. It’s for the kids. Everyone have a great summer.”



Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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