Blue Ridge Box Car Derby Raises Money for STEM

Community, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga – The first annual Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby raised $4,900 for Fannin County School’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program on Saturday, April 27.

The derby race was created by locals to benefit the community, specifically the children. Co-founder Brian Higgins said, “We have festivals here almost monthly, but none of them are geared toward kids, so we wanted to do something for them, and the best part is all the money goes back to them with the STEM program.”

The founders chose to donate to STEM for a couple of reasons. According to Higgins, “[Science, technology, engineering, and math] is every bit a box car  when you think about.” It takes each area to build and race a soapbox car.

Second, STEM doesn’t receive SPLOST dollars. STEM’s funding comes from the general school budget, which also pays for other school supplies.

STEM teaches students computational thinking and how to use scientific methods to solve real-world problems. The program helps children to develop technological skills to find highly-sought after jobs.

All the cars adhered to soapbox derby car standards, using only gravity as a propulsion system. Each car and driver were weighed during the race qualifying to ensure everyone had a fair chance during the derby.

Local businesses sponsored and helped the children to build over 26 cars for the derby. The participants brought their creativity to the cars’ design from that paint to the wheels.

49 drivers raced down the hill at Fannin County Middle School on a great day for it. The school even donated the cafeteria for the day, so the children and spectators would have a lunch area. Local vendors were on hand to provide food for everyone in attendance.

Broken into three divisions, drivers fell into either the 7-11, 12-17, or 18 plus age groups. The 7-11 bracket had to win two out of three races during the preliminary round. The winners from those races moved on to the single race elimination round. The 12-17 and 18 plus brackets raced only a single elimination round.

Winners for the 7-11 Division
First Place: Watson
Second Place: Pierce
Third Place: Williams

Winner for the 12-17 Division
First Place: Twiggs
Second Place: Higgins
Third Place: Preising

All winners received $250, $75, or $25, depending on where they finished in the race.

Derby organizers hope to expand the event in the future with participants from across North Georgia.

Fannin County opts to remain a Charter School District

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously for the Fannin County School System to remain a charter school district.

Fannin County schools officially became a charter school system July, 01, 2015. According to the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), a charter district must renew their intent and contract with the state every five years.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Fannin County High School, Fannin County Middle School, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, Board of Education, Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chair, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Betsy Hyde, Lewis Deweese, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Terry Bramlett, Mike Cole, Georgia Department of Education, AdvancedEd, Charter, SGT, School Governance Team, QBE

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke with the BOE on what it means to remain a charter district.

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke to the BOE, “They (GDOE) asked us if we would amend our charter and say that we would review in 4 years.”

Upon Fannin County looking to obtain AdvancedED accreditation, the Georgia Department of Education asked administration to review their charter application a year early.

AdvancED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of schools and school systems. Every five years a school system must participate in a targeted self-reflection process.

The AdvancedED helps to evaluate purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning, resources and support systems, as well as engagement with stakeholders.

The charter renewal as well as the AdvancedEd accreditation are expected to have coinciding site visits to Fannin County Schools.

Hyde explained that during 2015, when Fannin County officially entered into the charter system, the state of Georgia offered three flexibility options for districts to pick from.

The first of these options was Status Quo. Under this option the school system would not be allowed waivers and have limited flexibility on the local level to customize the school learning environment.

The second option presented was the IE2/Strategic Waiver. This gave districts the ability to ask for specific waivers, but did not allow for School Governance Teams (SGT) to be established.

Lastly school systems had the option of becoming a charter district. This option did not restrict waivers and required the formation of SGT. With this option Fannin County would be provided more flexibility in exchange for maintaining at or above state levels in reviews.

“One of the things that we do in our system is we had to have waivers for instance to do block scheduling, class size, different things like that,” Hyde said explaining the benefits of being a charter district.

The decision to initially become a charter school system was not one that was taken lightly, Hyde explained that countless hours of research went into the decision, including speaking with other charter systems and visiting different districts.

Some of the advantages to being a charter district include flexibility to innovate educational opportunities, financial savings from waivers, and possible additional funding in Quality Basic Education (QBE) if appropriated.

One of the outstanding characteristics is the creation of SGT within each of the Fannin County schools. The first SGT was established in June of 2015. These teams, comprised of 7 members, each meet on a regular basis and include school system faculty as well as parents.

Hyde explained the role of SGT more in depth,”Student Government Teams kind of help us distribute our leadership instead of you all being the only board in the whole system. You all are still over the whole system, but this gives some government back to the schools.”

BOE Chair Lewis Deweese admitted to being skeptical of the formation of SGT in the beginning but said of his feelings now, “I think what we’ve really created are some advocates for public education.”

Before taking vote, board member Terry Bramlett questioned, “Whenever we chose to become a charter system it seemed to be the fairer choice of offering the most flexible options and the greatest opportunity for our students. Would you agree that that’s still the case?”

Hyde replied that she still felt very strongly that being a charter system is the best option for Fannin County and added that it also allows the school system a wider range of options as future needs within the district arise.

The BOE took the first step in renewing its contract to stay a charter district by passing a resolution updating their procedures. While there are still many steps to take before this renewal is official, administration is confident in their choice and ability to continue with charter district status.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Anthony Sabia awarded the Ann Higdon Math Award

Fannin Middle

Anthony Sabia, son of John and Jennifer Sabia, recently won the Ann Higdon Math Award. He earned the highest score on the Math portion of the 17-18 Milestones Test. Anthony is pictured with his 8th grade Math teacher, Vicki Henry.

Breakfast & Lunch Menus for August

Fannin Middle

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.”

 

Author

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.

Annual Chess Club Tournament

Fannin Middle

Chess club at Fannin County Middle school held there end of the year tournament yesterday. We had 8 participates through the year.

Pictured above: (Left) James Squires 8th grade 3rd place, (Middle) James Kyle 7th Grade Winner, and (Right) Braiden Haag 7th grade 2nd place.

FCMS – 8th Grade Awards Night

Fannin Middle

Please find below all the students that were honored on 8th Grade Awards Night.  The group photo includes everyone honored.

Students of the Year:  Sawyer Moreland and Sydney McGill. 

Reading

8A Jimmy Williams

8B Derrick Jones

 

Advanced Reading

8A Leah Pope

8B Rachel Bruce

Language Arts

8A Jimmy Williams

8B  Anthony Sabia

Advanced Language Arts

8A Reagan York    

8B Sydney McGill

Math

8A Kalliee Stanley

8B Graycee Mintz

Advanced Math

8A Sawyer Moreland

8B Kiersten Holloway

Science

8A  Dylan Collins

8B Lexy Long

Advanced Science

8A James Squires

8B Ashlyn Burger

Georgia Studies

8A Sawyer Moreland

8B A.J. Covey

CONNECTIONS AWARDS

Visual Arts:  

Sydney McGill

Introduction to Digital Technology:  

Will Watkins

Career Education:

A.J. Covey

Physical Education:

Boy: Levi Pierce

Girl:  Erin Gonzales

Technology:

Sydney McGill

Agriculture:

Rob Russell

Chorus:

Caitlin Raper

GENERAL AWARDS

Spelling Bee

8A Reagan York

8B Chloe Carter

Perfect Attendance

8A

Aubree Beavers
Ashlyn Burger
Xavier Crowley
Jackson Davis
Toby Davis
Cater Johnson
Juston ‘JT’ McDaniel
Emily Mealer
Garret Mervine
Jacob Queen
Christalee Rios-Espinoza
Max Roberson

8B

Luke Baggett
Logan Carroll
Aaliyah Green
Kirsten Holloway
Annabel Lillard
Aerial McKinney
Hayden Rose
Kinsley Sullivan
Nathan Thomas

Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Winner:   

Each year Fannin County Middle School participates in the Old Unicoi Trail National Society  of the Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Contest. This year the topic was World War I and its effect on our nation. Over three hundred students competed in the essay competition and from those the overall winner of her age group is

Leah Pope

REACH Scholars:

REACH Georgia’s mission is to ensure that Georgia’s academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, and achieve postsecondary success.  REACH Scholars are selected in middle school and sign a contract along with their parents to maintain grades, remain crime, drug, and behavior issue free, and meet with a volunteer mentor and academic coach until they graduate from high school. To be awarded their $10,000 scholarship, each Scholar must continue to meet program requirements until high school graduation.

Our 2017 – 2018 FCMS REACH Scholars are

Ricardo Arellanes

Aubree Beavers

Hunter DeMar

Aaliyah Green

Kaigan Mull

Principal’s List: Students must have all grades above a 93 for a grading period to receive the Principal’s List Award.

Ricardo Arellanes Alvarado Ryanne Jay Newman
Aubree Jade Beavers Daisy Elizabeth Oliver
Jolie Danielle Breeden Leah McKenzie Pope
Rachel Reagan Bruce Raven Lynn Porter
Ashlyn Skye Burger Amber Elizabeth Quinton
Chloe Alayna-Erin Carter Jacob Avery Raines
Alyson Renea Chastain Samantha Morgan Sadler
Anthony James Covey Hallie Elizabeth Shuler
Hunter Scott DeMar James  Squires
Erin Julianna Gonzales Kinsley Ellington Sullivan
Kirsten Summer Holloway Emily Noel Turner
Cater Andrew Johnson Drake Benton Usry
Jacob Daniel Kuna Kaitlyn Dawn White
Annabel Lee Lillard Reagan McKenzie York
Sydney Grace McGill Jenna Rae Young
Sawyer Aaron Moreland Kathryn Grace Young

Presidential Awards

The following students have qualified for a Silver Presidential Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for either making

  1. Straight A’s for 6th and 7th grades and through the fall semester of 8th grade OR
  2. For exceeding on state tests for either 6th or 7th grades.  The students who receive this award only have to meet one criterion.

The following students qualify for an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award:

Cater Andrew Johnson
Ethan Richard Jones
Ryanne Jay Newman
Samantha Morgan Sadler

Students receiving the Gold  Presidential Awards for Outstanding Academic Excellence are required to meet the following highly rigorous criteria:

  1. GPA in all subject areas must be 90-100 in 6th & 7th grade school years and fall semester of 8thgrade AND
  2. High Achievement in reading or math on state test for the 6th and 7th grade. The students who receive this award have to meet both of the rigorous criteria.

The following students qualify for the Presidential Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence:

Ricardo Arellanes Alvardo

Rachel Reagan  Bruce

Ashlyn Skye Burger

Kirsten Summer Holloway

Sydney Grace McGill

Ann Higdon Math Award – Is awarded annually to the student with the highest score on the Georgia Milestones exam. It is awarded annually in memory of FCMS math teacher Ann Higdon. This award will be presented when the Milestones results are returned from the state.

Citizenship Awards

8A     Adaelyn Ray & Jackson Davis

8B     Carly Cox & Kaleb Couch

Students of the Month 8A

August – Leah Pope & Seth Reece

September – Cassidy Culpepper & Sawyer Moreland

October – Ashlyn Burger & Ricardo Arellanes

November – Raven Porter & Cater Johnson

December – Adaelyn Ray & Jackson Davis

January – Aubree Beavers & Corbin Head

February – Emily Turner & Noah Hess

March – Reagan York & Toby Davis

April – Becca Ledford & Coy Mealer

May – Erin Gonzales & Hunter DeMar

Student of the Year for 8A

Sawyer Moreland

Students of the Month 8B

August – Annabel Lillard & A.J. Covey

September –Sydney McGill & Trey Riccitiello

October – Kirsten Holloway & Christopher Gaitanoglou

November – Rachel Bruce & James Squires

December – Kathryn Young & Hunter Ramey

January – Carly Cox & Giovanni Leal

February – Aaliyah Green & Scott Pulliam

March – Kaylie Kendall & Kaleb Couch

April – Aly Chastain & Tripp Hill

May – Lexi Long & Carter Mann

Student of the Year for 8B

Sydney McGill

 

Special Olympics Week proclaimed in Fannin County

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County honored its special athletes today, and officially proclaimed both in the City of Blue Ridge and in Fannin County that the week of May 16, 2018 be Special Olympics Week.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Mayor Donna Whitener signs proclamation declaring Special Olympics Week for the City of Blue Ridge.

Crowds gathered shortly before 10:30 a.m. this morning in the free parking area of downtown Blue Ridge. Among those present were Special Olympic supporters, teachers, proud parents, Blue Ridge and Fannin County law enforcement and emergency personnel, representatives from Fannin County’s educational system, and of course, the athletes.

This year marks a very special anniversary for the olympics. Having begun in 1968, the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th year.

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener was present to kick off festivities as she announced that the City of Blue Ridge was officially acknowledging this week as Special Olympics Week and delivered a proclamation stating such from the city.

A lighting of the ceremonial torch set activities in motion, and the athletes were cheered on as they made their way up East Main Street to the Fannin County Courthouse participating in the Fannin County Torch Relay.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Chairman Stan Helton signs proclamation for Special Olympics Week in Fannin County.

The celebration continued at the courthouse where the procession was greeted by Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton. Helton announced to the crowd that Fannin County too would like to recognize this week as Special Olympics Week and signed an official proclamation as well.

The Special Olympics will take place tomorrow, May 16, at Fannin County Middle School (FCMS). The opening ceremony will be at 9 a.m. in the FCMS gym.

Elementary athletes and Mineral Springs athletes will compete from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Middle and High School athletes will compete from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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