Board Business Briefs: School Board Welcomes New Student Delegates
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower is pictured with the 2023-24 Student Advisor Makenzie Bird of Cherokee HS, left; and Student Delegates, from left front row, Bella Postel of Etowah HS and Gina Ross of Creekview HS; back row, Sophia Aleck of Sequoyah HS, Riley Stray of Woodstock HS and Caleb Lewis of River Ridge HS.
The Cherokee County School Board at its Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023 regular meeting welcomed its new Student Advisor and Student Delegates for the school year!
The School Board has included a Student Advisor position on its board since 1999, and, for the past 13 years, a Student Delegate from each high school also has been selected. These outstanding high school seniors serve for one year to give input and feedback to the School Board and to the Superintendent of Schools and his senior staff. The advisor role, which includes the opportunity to sit on the dais with the school board, is rotated among the district’s high schools.
This school year’s Student Advisor is Makenzie Bird of Cherokee HS, and this year’s Delegates are: of Creekview HS, Gina Ross; of Etowah HS, Bella Postel; of River Ridge HS, Caleb Lewis; of Sequoyah HS, Sophia Aleck; of Woodstock HS, Riley Stray.
The Student Delegates were introduced at Thursday’s school board meeting and, prior to the regular meeting, met with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower to learn more about their important role. The Delegates attend all School Board meetings as student representatives, and throughout the year meet in work sessions with the Superintendent’s senior staff to advise them on important issues, ranging from the code of conduct to School Nutrition menus. Each school determines its own selection process; students interested in the opportunity are encouraged to speak with their principal. The innovative engagement program earned the Georgia School Boards Association’s Leading Edge Award.
“Our Student Delegates serve as a critically important part of our governance model as they share the student voice with the school board, me and my senior staff,” Dr. Hightower said. “Their feedback matters and influences the decisions we make to provide them and their peers with the best education possible. This year’s delegates follow the long tradition of bringing impressive resumes to their roles. They are leaders in their schools and communities and now will be leaders districtwide through this role.”
Learn more about this year’s delegates:
Cherokee HS: Makenzie Bird
Editor of Cherokee’s school newspaper and an Enjoy Cherokee Magazine intern, Makenzie attended the Governor’s Honors Program for Communicative Arts. She is a member of Beta Club, student government, Beat Out Cancer Club and National English Honor Society. A 13-year piano and dance student, Makenzie served as page at the Georgia House of Representatives and is a UGA Merit Scholar, Superintendent’s Key Scholar and Young Author’s Fair regional winner.
Creekview HS: Gina Ross
A scholar athlete, Gina competes on Creekview’s varsity cross country and track and field teams and has earned athletic and academic letters. She has served as class president for four years, as well as serving as National Social Studies Honor Society president, National French Honor Society secretary and yearbook editor. She is a member of Beta Club and National Honor Society, volunteers with her school’s food pantry and with her church and works part-time for Publix.
Etowah HS: Bella Postel
Co-captain of Etowah’s swim and dive team, Bella is a national group swimmer for Chattahoochee Gold Swimming and has earned two athletic letters and an academic letter. She is a member of student government, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica. An intern for the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News and student at The School of The New York Times, Bella works as a freelance journalist. She is a Sequoyah Regional Library System Teen Advisory Board Member, has earned the Eagle Award and UGA Certificate of Merit and volunteers with groups including Friends of Refugees.
River Ridge HS: Caleb Lewis
Caleb is a two-year varsity letterman on River Ridge’s baseball team and a member of its Student Athlete Leadership Team, Student Government Association and National Honor Society. A Superintendent’s Key Scholar, he has earned the UGA Certificate of Merit and is a College Board tutor for students worldwide preparing for the SAT. Caleb volunteers with Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church.
Sequoyah HS: Sophia Aleck
An active volunteer, Sophia gives her time to Sequoyah’s coffee shop, mentors elementary school students and organizes a sock and toy drive. She is a member of Key Club, Beta Club, student government, Journey Club and National Honor Society. She has earned the UGA Certificate of Merit and works part-time for Little River Marina.
Woodstock HS: Riley Stray
Voted Woodstock’s “Most Positive” varsity sidelines cheerleader, Riley also is a varsity competition, All-Star Cheer and Game Day cheerleader and coaches middle school cheer. She is a member of student government, National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta math honor society and Latin Club and has earned an academic letter. Riley volunteers with the Elves Club and with Reader Leaders, through which she reads to elementary school classes, and works part-time for OneLife Kids Club.
During its work session, the school board heard presentations from the Office of Curriculum and Instruction on last school year’s Georgia Milestones scores (learn more here) and new initiatives underway this school year including efforts to: further improve student literacy; implement the state’s new math standards; expand blended learning, which is effectively using technology in classroom instruction; and enhance career education programs.
The school board, as part of the monthly personnel report, also approved the appointment of a new coordinator for procurement services, Meghan Washabaugh, who has more than 13 years of national and global supply chain management experience.
The school board also:
• Recognized River Ridge HS girls basketball Coach Jason Taylor as the CCSD 2023 Coach of the Year. Learn more here;
• Recognized Liberty ES as a National School of Character. Learn more here;
• Recognized Sixes ES as a Georgia School Bell Award winner. Learn more here;
• Recognized Indian Knoll ES Technology Lab teacher Kristen Brooks as an ISTE 20 to Watch winner. Learn more here;
• Recognized Holly Springs ES STEM Academy School Principal Ashley Polito as a Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce “Top 10 in 10” honoree. Learn more here;
• Recognized CCSD 2023 School Nurse of the Year Sandra McFarland of Avery ES and Innovation Zone School Nurses of the Year. Learn more here;
• Recognized CCSD 2023 Transportation Employee of the Year Dawn Benton of the Etowah Zone and Innovation Zone Transportation Employees of the Year. Learn more here;
• Recognized CCSD School Nutrition Team of the Year Award Winners: Clark Creek ES STEM Academy for the elementary division and E.T. Booth MS for the high/middle/centers division. Learn more here;
• Recognized CCSD Special Education Department 2023 Employees of the Year Awards. Learn more here;
• Recognized 2023-24 Student Advisor to School Board and Student Delegates;
• Approved the renewal of partnership agreements with Cherokee County Special Olympics, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International - Gamma Eta Chapter, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service/4-H Environmental and Upper Etowah River Alliance, and a new partnership agreement with Allatoona Rowing Association;
• Approved the annual adoption of administrative procedures for visitors to school board meetings;
• Approved the final reading of annual updates to School Board Policies;
• Approved the annual adoption of authorized school fundraising activities;
• Approved monthly financial reports and sales tax updates;
• Approved out of state staff travel;
• Approved out of state and overnight student field trips;
• Approved the monthly update on capital outlay projects;
• Approved the state-required site approval submission for the Woodstock HS classroom addition;
• Approved special lease agreements;
• Approved the annual plan for school board governance training;
• Approved a memorandum of understanding and special lease agreement to continue Mountain Education Center’s (formerly called Mountain Education Charter High School) use of Etowah High School’s Etowah East building for evening high school classes; and,
• Announced the closing on the purchase of 4.79 acres on the northern side of Creekview HS at a cost of $428,000.