MECHS Graduation & Scholarship recipients

Mountain Education Charter High School

Albert E. Harrison Scholarship recipients from Gilmer and Fannin Counties (l-r) Filipe Arreaga, Christopher Byrd, Bryson Darnell, Madison Davenport, Phebee Garrett, Mallory Grimes, Lindsay Irons, Makenzi Ledford, Katelyn Roberts, Dakota Skiles, Pennie Tuck, Lexus Walden, and Jadie Weaver, also pictured Mr. Jason Smith and Mr. Doug Harrison of Ellijay Telephone Company.

Mountain Education honors seniors at special dinner

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MECHS Gilmer Honor Graduates and recipients of the Presidents Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence included, left to right, Salutatorian Dakota Skiles, Bryson Darnell, and Jessica Jones. Not pictured is Felipe Arreaga.

MECHS Gilmer Honor Graduates and recipients of the President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence included, left to right, Salutatorian Dakota Skiles, Bryson Darnell, and Jessica Jones. Not pictured is Felipe Arreaga.

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Mountain Education Charter High School (MECHS) dedicated a night special for its own seniors set to graduate this year.

As a part of the graduation season, the school held a banquet honoring those seniors and their accomplishments. The dinner, held at First Baptist Church in Ellijay, honored those from the Gilmer site before the Graduation Ceremony at Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center honoring graduates from Fannin, Gilmer, and Union.

The night also noted Gilmer’s success with holding the entire system’s Salutatorian, Dakota Skiles. She was one of the four Honor Graduates from Gilmer alongside Filipe Arreaga, Bryson Darnell, and Jessica Jones.

Seniors honored for the Presidents Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement included, left to right, Christopher Byrd, Phebee Garrett, David Green, Mallory Grimes, Sonia Guzman, Luke McClure, Katelynn Roberts, Pennie Tuck, and Jadie Weaver. Not Pictured is Kacie Crook, McKenzie Hagin, Jacob King, and Luis Olea.

Seniors honored for the President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement included, left to right, Christopher Byrd, Phebee Garrett, David Green, Mallory Grimes, Sonia Guzman, Luke McClure, Katelynn Roberts, Pennie Tuck, and Jadie Weaver. Not Pictured is Kacie Crook, McKenzie Hagin, Jacob King, and Luis Olea.

Additional honorees for the night included winners of the President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Christopher Byrd, Kacie Crook, Phebee Garrett, David Green, Mallory Grimes, Sonia Guzman, McKenzie Hagin, Jacob King, Luke McClure, Luis Olea, Katelynn Roberts, Pennie Tuck, and Jadie Weaver.

As the ceremony continued, each senior was presented with a special “shadow box” for their graduation. This class gift was presented as a token of the staff’s pride in the students and their hard work.

Still more, for her special achievement of reaching Salutatorian, Dakota Skiles was given a tablet computer for her future work and education endeavors.

 

 

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Gilmer High School signs future teachers to college commitment

Bobcat's Corner

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School (GHS) saw a new celebration this year as they held a signing day for students committing to a college in order to become teachers themselves.

The inaugural event, held April 27 this year, showcased 11 students dedicating to three different colleges. Eight will be attending the University of North Georgia. Two will attend Dalton State College. One will attend Chattahoochee Technical College.

William Barnes, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Brittani Ballew, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Mckayla Chambers, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Callie Kerr, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Jenny McCurdy, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.

 

 

Andrea Pantoja, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.

 

 

Erica Sharp, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Kameron Stone, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Allison Strickler, a senior, committed to Chattahoochee Technical College.

 

 

Sarina Tran, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Rachel Waddell, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

These students have all been a part of the high school’s “Teaching as a Profession” pathway in the school as well as Work Based Learning so that each student will be heading into college with experience in his or her field. As a part of the day, students met with representatives from their colleges and receive a certificate recognizing their dedication and hard work.

A state event “signing day” will be held May 8. However, due to testing at that time, GHS held their signing day early.

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Gilmer High Band looks for new uniforms

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer High School (GHS) Marching Band is looking to replace their uniforms after 13 years of use.

The legacy of the current uniforms stretches across over a decade of champion level performances, nation-spanning shows like Hollywood for the Christmas Parade, and growth into new avenues, such as this year’s inaugural Winter Guard Competitive Season.

After all the events these uniforms have been showcased at, the time has come to hang up the old and ring in the new. Director of Bands Joe Pflueger has worked since November on finding the new look and gauging interest of both band members and Band Boosters members. Originally engaging three companies for design bids and ideas, Pflueger has finally come to a definitive design.

Noting the resemblance of the front design to that of our iconic mountains, he said he has decided on the final design from Fruhauf Uniforms, Inc. The competition line uniform will bear the school’s emblematic G as seen in the photo.

Achieving this goal, however, is something the band team is still working towards. Pflueger took time to speak with FetchYourNews (FYN) saying he felt the new uniforms, along with the board’s August approval for replacing percussion instruments, bear a rewarding feeling for the students after the constant work and successes in recent years.

The uniforms are more than just a new design for some though. Band mom Bobbi Leigh Mullins said it represented the chance to have her son “sparkle and shine” as he marched for the band.

Consisting of 130 musicians, the GHS Band has always grown from support from its band boosters, support from the school and school board, and support from the community to further its efforts. Pflueger spoke with FYN confirming that the band has already raised half of the funds necessary to purchase the uniforms. However, if they are to meet their hopes of fielding these uniforms at the opening show next season, this fall, they need to garner another $30,000 to finish the project.

Attempting to raise the necessary funds, the band has turned to its community for help. An official release from the organization has offered game-time announcements and program recognition for sponsorship at different “star levels.” Each level represents a part of a uniform up to “5 Star” level at $395 for a full uniform.

Pflueger said the process has included over 20 designs and numerous minor changes to designs before ending on this arrangement. Though the current band stands at 130 students, Pflueger admitted the band could see growth toward 140 in the coming years, making it the largest band Gilmer has fielded to date. Pflueger told FYN, “With all the organizations, it’s just getting the kid involved. It makes for a better, well-rounded kid. And it provides those kids with memories they can keep the rest of their lives … That’s the satisfying part of it.”

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Facilities plan discussed at board retreat

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has detailed the plans for their buildings over the next five years at a board retreat in March.

The plan incorporates the use of Instructional Units (IUs) in relation to state and federal programs utilized to spread funding to counties based on their “need.” By better planning facility use and more details on those facilities, the Gilmer County Charter School System (GCCSS) hopes to maximize their IUs to secure as much funding as possible from these state programs.

The funding itself, however, comes in the form of reimbursements instead of pre-project funds. Most citizens should recall this is the same process the board is currently using a part of its coming renovations at Gilmer High School (GHS). The applications will allow for partial reimbursement of a few parts of the project including items like roofing and HVAC work.

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Additionally, the board retreat allowed members to discuss and see the current plan on what they will be seeking in terms of facility changes and movements to come. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asserted that the plan is the board’s current intentions for the future, but that it was also not set in stone. Parts of the plan rely on approval of the next Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for example. She also told FetchYourNews that the plan could change with major unforeseen circumstances.

Allowing the flexibility to change gives the school board a cushion for contingencies and alterations while also giving the guide for the next five years.

The plan described will see the board finishing up the GHS renovations before adding onto Mountain View Elementary school. The board is planning to have Ellijay Primary School (EPS), Ellijay Elementary School (EES), and Mountain View Elementary School converted into full, preschool through fifth grade (P-5) elementary schools. Looking even further ahead, the board is also discussing moving what is now EPS to a new building on the board’s property near Yukon, near Clear Creek Middle School.

As a part of this conversion, the three P-5 elementary Schools would serve their local districts where they are located. Students would then move to Clear Creek Middle School as the county’s sole middle school for grades six through eight. Moving up from there, students would attend Gilmer High School’s campus with the current Gilmer Middle School serving on campus as a ninth-grade academy and the current GHS building serving grades 10 through 12.

One possibility could see EPS becoming a preschool to second grade with EES as third grade to fifth grade until the new building can be completed, but regardless the plan will ultimately end in the three P-5 schools.

That new facility would have the board moving away from Ellijay Primary School, avoiding the damages from its location in the flood plain and moving out of a nearly 50-year-old building, as well as having the new building in a better location for its district.

Once the new building for EPS is completed, the board wants to look at EES for needed renovations at that time. According to Gilmer Schools Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services, Stuart Sheriff, completing EES renovations should see a potential 10-year period where the board’s facilities would only need normal maintenance, requiring no major renovations.

With people still asking why the board does not utilize their old location for Oakland Elementary, Dr. Wilkes noted that Oakland can only house 247 students making it too small to be utilized. She also noted other issues the board has faced with the location, including sewage leasing and relative location to other schools and district possibilities.

With the plan set, the board has already been moving on GHS renovations and will begin phase one of the two-phase project this summer.

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Reality Day sees success despite reduced numbers

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Sophomores of Gilmer High School (GHS) were treated to the annual Reality Day that is put on every March.

Sophomores from GHS make decisions about cell phones and activities among others at the Entertainment station of their budget process.

Sophomores from GHS make decisions about cell phones and activities among others at the Entertainment station of their budget process.

Set 10 years into the students’ future, the day sets up budgetary needs for a student offering randomized “life-situations” like number of children, marital status, and job description and pay. They take this monthly income and travel to different stations in order to budget their life and what they want including cell phones, Internet, clothing, transportation, home, charity, insurance, and even unexpected events based upon random card draw.

Volunteers from across the county help the day progress through four groups throughout the day. Gilmer Family Connection Director Merle Naylor, who organizes the event, told FetchYourNews it’s the volunteers she relies on to make the day happen. Allowing students a glimpse of the general is what she points to as the real meaning of the day, but she also enjoys the time for citizens to volunteer showing that the students matter and are worth the time taken for the day.

Sophomores from GHS prepare for Reality Day with friends at the Ellijay Civic Center.

Sophomores from GHS prepare for Reality Day with friends at the Ellijay Civic Center.

This year saw a few hiccups, as far fewer students showed up for the day than were expected. Several issues were noted as contributing factors from students not getting permission slips to others being absent. Naylor commented on the reduced number saying, “I think it went well, maybe not as well as last year because of the number of student were probably a third of what we’ve had in past years. But the students certainly learned, and I’ve heard some comments from volunteers that they actually learned more because they could spend more time with the students … I look at in the positive that if a few of the students gained the knowledge, then it was well worth it all.”

Naylor went on to note that she takes a lot personally from the day to know that people are willing to volunteer for the project. The interaction with the students goes a long way, but more, the interaction with each other builds the community support of the students and of each other.

 

Be sure to check out FYN’s Facebook page for more photos from Reality Day 2018.

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Gilmer students “Walk-Out”

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With a nationwide “walk-out day” today, Gilmer County saw its own high school students leaving class and marching onto the front lawn in remembrance of 17 dead last month.

However, those attending the walk-out glimpsed a different side of these students than many may have expected. There was no chanting, no loud shouts of political ideals. Instead, somewhere close to 50 students stood in 30 degree weather silent, remembering the 17 dead. A short speech by two freshmen, Justin Gooch and Jordan Henderson, set the tone for the 20 minute walk-out. More than a tone, though, they stood to become a voice of those 50 gathered.

As seen in the video, Gooch told his classmates about his hope to change his school to a “more welcoming environment.” The voice rang through the crowd as others stood to echo his sentiments, including one student, who called himself J.B., that stood on the bench to say “we are all the same.” It was 20 minutes of high school students telling each other what they could do to change things, and how they could be different in today’s time.

Junior Grace Kruse commended those in attendance for their bravery in standing up for the change they wanted. She told her fellow students to be proud of themselves.

From left to right, Freshmen Jordan Henderson and Justin Gooch and Juniors Ashlyn Jenkins and Grace Kruse lead today's "Walk-out" through moments of prayer and prepared speeches.

From left to right, freshmen Jordan Henderson and Justin Gooch and juniors Ashlyn Jenkins and Grace Kruse led today’s “Walk-out” through moments of prayer and prepared speeches.

Starting through group chats, according to Kruse and fellow junior Ashlyn Jenkins, the event was organized and even brought to administration this week. Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley spoke with FetchYourNews (FYN) briefly, confirming that the students had spoken with administration about the walk-out. She shared with FYN her feelings on the events saying, “If people haven’t been in the high school in the last five years and all they hear about or see is the crazy stuff on social media and that perception that people have of the youth today, then they are mistaken. Kids these days are smart; they’re aware. They’re compassionate. I see a lot of compassion in our young adults and that’s what was displayed today.”

Kruse repeated her thoughts after the event saying that she wanted to encourage her generation to use their voice, a loud voice that proves a difference from the common belief that they, as a generation, do not care. Jenkins told FYN that today meant there is a chance for our nation to change, seeing so many young people willing to stand up for something. It is a feeling of hope for their generation.

The feeling continued along with students saying they did not expect so many people to attend the walk-out. Gooch said he knew he was going to walk out of class regardless of the possibility of being the only one, but seeing over 50 people on the front lawn was encouraging after only seeing four people walk out of his own class. “I see the change proving that most people do care … They want us to have a better environment,” Gooch stated.

The idea of the movement in Gilmer focused on changing their environment to stop bullying and ostracizing those who may have mental illness. They passed around ribbons to wear. Gooch told FYN the conversation they are trying to have is that the reason that most of these things are happening is bullying and pushing kids to these limits.

Though those present said there is a point later to talk about policy and/or gun control, they wanted today to be about human life and the importance of life, the importance of growing closer together. Kruse stated she wanted today to be about the 17 people who died, and the numerous more in other shootings.

The students noted a plan spreading through the nation about a potential march on Washington D.C. For today, however, these students say they do not want this to stop here. They hope there is more in Gilmer County. As they filtered back through the doors to return to their classes, they told FYN that they want a next step on this path to make their school better, they want a next step to make themselves better.

Students gather in front of GHS for a "Walk-out" on March 14, 2018.

Students gather in front of Gilmer High School for a “Walk-out” March 14, 2018.

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Shooting at Dalton High School

News

DALTON, Ga. – The Dalton Police Department is on scene at Dalton High School where shots have been fired.

Dalton Police report that no student was injured by the shooting and all students are out of harm’s way. They also report the subject, a teacher, has been taken into custody.

The subject had barricaded themselves into a classroom earlier today before firing a weapon. Local police and Georgia State Patrol responded to the initial call. Concerning those reports that have come about a student injured during the evacuation, the Dalton Police were adamant that no student was injured by the shooting.

Police are also asking parents to NOT go to Dalton High School as they say, “The area inside the school has been evacuated and there are no students believed to be in the school at this time.”

The evacuated students have been taken to the Northwest Georgia Trade Center where police report parents should go for their children.

 

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