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Computer Science focus secures STEM certification for Carrollton High School
Julianne Foster

Three CHS Computer Science students created the winning app for the 2020 U.S. Congressional App Challenge. From left are Kayla McGuinn, a two-time winner; Betsy Tuggle; and Savannah Richie. Their app, “Note Mine,” is on the computer screen. This was the third year in a row Carrollton High School coding students have programmed their way to the top in the contest, an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage middle and high school students to learn to code and consider pursuing careers in computer science. App creation initiatives such as this one garnered high marks in a recent STEM certification renewal for CHS.

Student engagement grows with focus on app development

The results of an audit by an independent accrediting agency led to recertification of Carrollton High School's STEM curriculum, bolstered by specific success of the school's Computer Science program.

Cognia, an education nonprofit that reviews school operations and awards general accreditation status to school systems, also awards specific certification for programs. In 2015, CHS received its first STEM certification by the agency, becoming only the 18th high school in the world to achieve this milestone at the time.

Karen Wild, director of School Improvement for Carrollton City Schools, noted this most recent certification effort was particularly exceptional, thanks to a deliberate school effort to boost its Computer Science offerings and credits CS department chair Robby Blakemore as the catalyst.

Wild said Blakemore, who was the project lead, implemented efforts to grow the CS program to a level that prepares students to enter the workforce out of high school or continue with specialized post-secondary training.

"He has worked with administration and staff to increase the number and diversity of students engaged in CS," said Wild. "He led the system in a vertically-aligned approach to CS that allows students to experience high school level courses in junior high school which results in a high school experience that parallels post secondary and career-level learning."

Wild noted Blakemore, who was named CHS Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year, also   engaged with CS businesses in the local community and in Atlanta to gain insight for curriculum and performance expectations that align with today’s workforce. She said he also took ownership of the process, making personal contacts with all stakeholders through the effort.

"He did all of this in a genuine and kind manner," said Wild.

In the Cognia review, CHS received the "impactful" rating, the highest possible, in 14 of 16 standards studied with the remaining two achieving "improving," the next highest mark.

In the review summary, the agency stated that "it was apparent that CHS is a leader in STEM education.

"The STEM education at the school mirrors what is really occurring in STEM careers," continued the report. "All students participate in the curriculum, regardless of their academic level."

Ian Lyle, who was recently appointed as CHS principal, was also instrumental in the effort as the former director of the Career, Technical, Agricultural Education program at CHS.

"As we evaluated our programs and compared them to what is needed in the workforce, Computer Science became the obvious focus,” said Lyle. “Mr. Blakemore took the challenge to heart, implemented innovative actions by using app development to engage students to bring more into the fold. His work and the work of our other teachers, community stakeholders, and students in the overall accreditation process was impressive and should be commended.”

CES 2nd grade class named finalist in book publishing contest
Julianne Foster

To commemorate the class accomplishment of reading 4,000 books the first three nine-weeks of school, students in Kristina Bivins' second grade class published their own book and held a book reveal party in April. Ms. Bivins recently received word that their book has been named a finalist in the National Book Challenge hosted by Studentreasures Publishing.


Book's success earns students published author honors

Carrollton Elementary School teacher Kristina Bivins and her second-grade class have been announced as finalists in the 2020-2021 National Book Challenge hosted by Studentreasures Publishing. Each of the second-grade authors were recognized for their contributions to their book, “PEEK into the WILD with the Excited Explorers,” which was published earlier this year through Studentreasures’ free publishing program. 

For this honor, the class will receive a $50 gift card, plus a published author certificate for each student. 

Mrs. Bivins and her students created “PEEK into the WILD with the Excited Explorers,” when they were learning about different animals in the wild. The second-grade authors put forth their best effort, researching, writing about, and illustrating their animal book, before they sent their completed pages to be published. Bivins decided to enter the contest to commemorate her students' exceptional accomplishment of collectively reading 4,000 books before the end of the school year.

"I am extremely proud of Ms. Bivins and her students," said Kylie Carroll, CES principal. "They worked together to publish their book and showcased their love of literacy. I can't wait to see these young authors continue to shine!"

As a finalist in theNational Book Challenge, Mrs. Bivins’ classbook was selected from entries across the country and awarded as a Top 50 book in May based on its originality, creative storyline, and colorful illustrations. This nationwide contest was open to more than 60,290 books that were submitted to Studentreasures for free publishing this school year.   

“At Studentreasures, we are fortunate to witness tremendous creativity and talent from classrooms around the country and all students who publish their own books. We especially congratulate Mrs. Bivins and her students for earning this unique achievement and completing a project that provides lasting memories and a one-of-a-kind keepsake,” said Chad Zimmerman, president and CEO of Studentreasures. 

State DOE designates Carrollton Elementary Title 1 Reward School
Julianne Foster

CES teacher Dashia Withers works with a small group in her class during a morning exercise on adjectives.

Honor reserved for top 5% of schools in Georgia

Students in CES teacher Kristina Bivins' class gather in the classroom's "Reading Hut" area to dedicate time to enjoy a good book.

Following a state review of 2020-2021 testing data, Carrollton Elementary School has earned the Title I Reward School designation, an exclusive honor reserved for the top 5 percent of Title I schools in the state.

Title I is a program that provides federal funds to local educational agencies and public schools with high numbers or percentages of children in poverty to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards. 

Title I Reward Schools represent Georgia schools that made the most progress in academic performance of all students over the most recent two years, according to the Georgia Department of Education. This honor recognizes schools and school districts for significant progress in improving student achievement and/or significant progress in closing the achievement gap.

"I could not be more proud of our CES students and teachers," said Kylie Carroll, CES principal. "Together, they've shined amidst challenges, and they are most deserving of the Title I Reward School recognition. The Trojan Nation is TRULY a special place to learn, teach, and lead."

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