Six new inductees join REACH

Bobcat's Corner, News
Gilmer's 2018 signees into the REACH program, pictured here from left to right, (front) Emma Bell, Ben Becerra, Naydelin Ajiataz-Arreaga, (back) Annalyssa Brown, Alba Monraga-Telles, and Candelaria Raymundo-Bautista.

Gilmer’s 2018 signees into the REACH program, pictured here from left to right, (front) Emma Bell, Ben Becerra, Naydelin Ajiataz-Arreaga, (back) Annalyssa Brown, Candelaria Raymundo-Bautista, and Alba Monraga-Telles.

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education celebrated on Friday, October 19, to welcome its six new students into the Gilmer County REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) Scholars Program.

The six 8th graders were hosted at Clear Creek Middle School with a ceremony for their signing of the program agreement in the presence of the Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, and Chris Green of the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

The six students included Naydelin Ajiataz-Arreaga, Ben Becerra, Emma Bell, Annalysa Brown, Candelaria Raymundo-Bautista, and Alba Monraga-Telles. Each student celebrated the day with family members and member of the community in concerted agreement of support and encouragement for their years in high school and their plans beyond.

David Ralston speaks at Gilmer's 2018 REACH Signing Ceremony.

David Ralston speaks at Gilmer’s 2018 REACH Signing Ceremony.

REACH Georiga is a needs-based scholarship that begins in 8th grade. REACH Scholars are paired with a mentor and an academic coach throughout high school. Scholars must maintain good grades with a 2.5 GPA in core courses, good behavior, and good attendance throughout their remaining middle school and high school years.

Scholars who successfully complete the program and graduate from high school are awarded a $10,000 scholarship that can be used at HOPE-eligible institutions in Georgia.

Ralston praised the commitment of the students and schools in this effort saying, “If Georgia is to continue being the envy of the nation, if we are to going to continue to be the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, we’ve got to also lead in preparing our young people for success in college and in their careers.”

Chris Green, Georgia Student Finance Commission, speaks to Gilmer Students signing into the 2018 REACH Program.

Chris Green, Georgia Student Finance Commission, speaks to Gilmer Students signing into the 2018 REACH Program.

He continued to thank the students and schools for their work in the program saying the ceremony reaffirmed the commitment to education and seeing every student succeed. He also noted the states full funding for Georgia’s QBE (Quality Basic Education) program and increases in the state budget for securing our schools. He also spoke to the student’s futures noting the state’s financial contributions to the new campus. “A dream come true,” as Ralston called it during their groundbreaking ceremony according to UNG.

Green added to the sentiment as he noted the HOPE Scholarship program has already awarded over $10 billion to over 1.8 million students in its 25 years. As the REACH program follows those eligible institutions, Green asserted the commission’s efforts to spread the program to every school in the state. Congratulating Gilmer’s Scholars on their signing ceremony, he said he was proud to partner with the schools as the commission pursues its mission to help every Georgian to access post-secondary education.

 

 

Make sure to check out more photos of the signing ceremony at FYN’s Facebook Photo Album.

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Details surface on Officer Impersonation

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Releasing information about this weekend’s incident, the County’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is continuing their investigation into an officer impersonation.

Occurring on April 21, a local student from Gilmer High School told officers she was heading home late from a Senior Trip to Zoo Atlanta and a Braves game. Getting off the bus about 1:50 am and leaving the school ten minutes later, the student directly home.

While officials are not releasing the name of the student, they did say they are trying to get as much information as they can out to the public as they need the community’s help being on the lookout for this man or for any details helping the investigation.

The student was driving home in her Nissan Maxima when she saw emergency lights activated behind her. The strange part of the traffic stop was noted by the student as she had not noticed the car behind her previously because it did not have headlights on before activating emergency lights. The “fake officer” did not introduce himself when approaching the car but instead asked the student if she knew why he had stopped her?

She told him she didn’t know, to which he responded she was running 50 miles per hour with the speed limit at 55 and her low beam headlights were on. According to the incident report, the man stated “Obviously, you are not drunk,” before returning to his vehicle. Then, he returned and commented, “Obviously I was wrong, I made a mistake.”

Ending the traffic stop, the man returned to his vehicle and u-turned onto the road heading back towards Ellijay. Lasting eight to ten minutes total, the incident had several issues that cause the student to question. Officials have also issued a public release offering advice on how to handle traffic stops with unmarked cars. Captain Brian Shepard of Gilmer County’s Criminal Investigations Division confirmed, especially with this incident, that officers in unmarked cars understand that a vehicle may continue safely to a well-lit business or public spot before stopping for the traffic stop.

While some citizens have expressed concerns about this being viewed as refusing to stop, Shepard tells FYN that these citizens need not worry. Following their advice by traveling a little further to protect yourself or contacting 911 to confirm a traffic stop of an unmarked car is part of the job of protecting citizens.

With the incident over the weekend, Gilmer’s CID is continuing investigations into the details the student was able to notice past a flashlight the man was shining on her. The report states this man could be a pale white male with blue eyes, a “five o’clock shadow” resembling growing a goatee, and sideburns covering his ears. He appeared short and stout with a flat top haircut.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone possessing information regarding the unmarked car over the weekend to please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-635-4646 or the non-emergency number to Dispatch at 706-635-8911.

 

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Gilmer High School names STAR student

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley has announced the schools PAGE STAR student for 2018.

Tylea Hernandez scored 1,470 on her Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) placing her as the top-scoring senior and obtaining the award. Locally sponsored by the Ellijay Lions Club, this award highlights Hernandez’s achievement statewide through the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). The award also has Hernandez name a teacher to accompany her in recognition of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) award.

Naming Mr. Michael Crocker, a former mathematics teacher at Clear Creek Middle School, as her STAR Teacher, he will follow along with Hernandez through continued competition at every level of the program.

STAR begins each year in participating Georgia high schools when the STAR Student is named and chooses a STAR Teacher to share in this recognition. The students and their teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in their communities from one of the more than 165 statewide civic organizations and businesses that serve as local sponsors of the STAR program.

Hernandez will now compete for school system recognition as the top STAR Student, and those winners compete for
region honors. Region winners contend for the honor of being named state PAGE STAR Student.

Hernandez is hoping to attend Emory University to major in psychology after high school. Hoping to become a psychiatrist, Hernandez also has plans for medical school after Emory. She has already applied and hopes to know for sure in April. On the award, she said, “It’s surprising, but it’s nice to be awarded.”

After taking the SAT three times over the last two years, she told FetchYourNews, “My goal was to get a 1,400 on the SAT, and I didn’t really realize how high of a score that was. So, I wasn’t really expecting STAR Student.” She said taking the test several times helped her achieve higher every time she did it.

Speaking on Hernandez and the award, Foley stated, “We are very proud of Miss Hernandez and Mr. Crocker and the academic excellence they exemplify.”

Since its creation by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 1958, the STAR program has honored nearly 26,500 students and the teachers selected as the most influential to their academic achievement. High school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average to qualify for STAR nomination.

 

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Update on school threat

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – As the incident of the school threat continues in Gilmer, FetchYourNews (FYN) sat down with Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes to discuss the incident.

Wilkes told FYN the school system would not be identifying any of the students or current details about the case. However, Wilkes did take time to share with FYN the incident basically occurred when a student, student one, took a photo of himself with what appears to be a gun. Student one then shared the photo with a peer, student two, who shared it with another peer, student three.

Wilkes tells FYN this student, student three, was the one who added text to the photo representing a possible threat and shared it through social media with others. While administration assumes the photo was originally taken prior to this school year, it was not shared until this weekend.

Additionally, student one, who took the photo without any text, was not arrested or disciplined and is currently still in class. As student three admitted to adding the text and sending it to multiple individuals, he faces school-level disciplinary action as well as charges filed against him by law enforcement.

Wilkes has previously stated that the school treats all threats seriously and continues to assert the importance of student safety to school and system administration.

Follow more on this story as FYN continues to update you and by reading our previous article, “Threat resolved at Gilmer High School.”

 

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Threat resolved at Gilmer High School

Gilmer High School, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Rumors continue circulating this morning about messages students have been receiving on SnapChat. Allegedly, a child has threatened the school and others inside it.

According to Gilmer County Charter School System Administration, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office became involved during the night and have identified the suspect. As administration has continued working with the sheriff, they stated on social media, “The safety of our students and staff is always our main priority. All appropriate action will be taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

Today, administration stated progress had been made and the Sheriff’s Office had made an arrest in the case stating, “At this time, there is no credible risk to students and staff of Gilmer High School.”

However, claiming laws for student confidentiality, administration is declining to comment further on the student involved or more information on the incident.

In light of the continued rumors about the credibility of the threat, administration did offer this: “It is imperative for students and everyone to know that credible or not, threats of this type against our schools cannot be tolerated or accepted.”

Repeated comments from citizens and students claim the threat came as a picture on SnapChat of a student holding a gun and saying not to come to school Monday.

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Gilmer Student Art Exhibition

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Gilmer Student Art Exhibition

 By: Mariela Aguillon

 

Friday afternoon, March 10, the Gilmer Arts Association filled the art center with students and their families as they received acknowledgment for their outstanding works of art during the Gilmer Student Art Exhibit.

 

Students from our local elementary and middle schools had pieces nominated from their art teachers while high school students submitted their own pieces.

 

Members of the Gilmer Arts Association judged the artwork and selected the winners for each school. Andrea Handley, Art Teacher at Gilmer High School, described the selection process as “very difficult due to all the great pieces.”

 

Each of the schools had their art teacher present their winners beginning with honorable mentions, and followed by first, second, and third place winners.

 

The night ended with attendees admiring  the showcase of student art. The event was filled with praise towards the students’ art and considered an overall successful night for the talented artists who once again got to prove their skills.

 

Winners were as follows:

First place winners were Kelie Jesinzcki for Mountain View Elementary School (MVE), Dawson Richard for Ellijay Elementary School (EES), Madeline Watts for Gilmer Middle School (GMS), Brianna Tierney for Clear Creek Middle School (CCMS), and Asiria Vicente for Gilmer High School (GHS).

 

Second place was awarded to Lexie Peacock (MVE), Mackenzie Reale (EES), Frinsley Ambrocio (GMS), Morgan White (CCMS), and Danyelle O’neal(GHS).

 

Third place winners were Micah Dates (MVE), Isabel Gonzales (EES), Sanoah Hensley (GMS), Lexi Goforth (CCMS), and Ebony Scherbarth (GHS). As the students received their certificate they had a sense of gratification in their accomplishment.

 

Students who received honorable mentions were, Addy Poole (MVE), Landyn Rodas Lopez  (EES), Larz Fowler (GMS), and Samantha Evans(CCMS). Five of the students from GHS were selected honorable mentions Autumn Durham, Abby Dotson, Addie Parker, and Samantha Button.

 

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Measuring Student Growth

News

During its January Work Session, the Gilmer County School Board heard a presentation on our schools’ focus on Student Growth and its effect on the County’s CCRPI (College and Career Readiness Performance Index) Score.

Student Growth is being measured by the school system and State Board of Education as a part of CCRPI through Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs). The new form allows another look at students through a “growth vs. performance” measurement.

As opposed to simply focusing on the proficiency of students, these new SGPs will track a students progress from year to year as they score. According to the Board’s presentation, “Much like achievement levels are used to
describe student performance on state assessments, student growth levels provide context for various values of SGPs.” This means there are three levels to a student’s SGP score.

They are described as:

Low – (1-34) Struggles to maintain his/her current level of achievement.

Typical – (35-65) Generally will maintain or improve academically.

High – (66-99) Generally will make greater improvements academically.

These scores allow the Board of Education to map out its students as a whole for quick and easy comparisons to other counties, comparisons of schools within the county, as well as individually identifying students. Utilizing  a chart in quadrants scaled again the student’s achievement, individual students can identify as high achieving with low growth, low achievement with high growth, low achievement and low growth, and high achievement and high growth.

According to Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, this individual measurement could help identify students who may achieve high but show low growth indicating they may not be challenged enough and should move to more challenging classes. Likewise, it seems the chart will also identify students who may need extra attention or simply may not be grasping concepts in their lessons.

Through the SGP tracking, the schools will collect both fall and winter scores to provide feedback on the schools more often and aid in setting plans for a class’ future as well as project estimations for teachers for the Georgia Milestones testing and ACT scores.

Check out more by looking into the information provided during the presentation here.

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