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2022 3A students
students at homecoming
class of 2022 seniors on first day of school
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CCS partners with city to offer swimming lessons to students
Cali Jones

For many, summertime means water time. Trips to the beach or lake, rides in boats or on jet skis, and spending time cooling off at pools are common summer activities. 

Carrollton Elementary School rising second grader Dalila Rivas works on swimming fundamentals with Carrollton High School student and lifeguard Litzy Velasquez at Midtown Park in Carrollton.

But as much fun as water can be, it can also be dangerous — especially for children.

To help mitigate some of the risks associated with water play, Carrollton City Schools has partnered with the city to offer swimming lessons to students involved in the summer enrichment program.

This effort was the brainchild of Travis Thomaston, director of student engagement at CCS.

“The idea came together because of the need for students to learn to swim for basic survival skills in water,” said Thomaston. “The initial thought process was to ensure that as many of the students in our community get exposed to the activity as early as possible.”

Carrollton City Manager David Brooks connected the district with John Layng from the Carrollton Parks and Recreation Department who Thomaston said was instrumental in helping to secure swimming locations and personnel that will instruct students in the water this summer. 

“We are excited to partner with the Carrollton City Schools for these lessons,” said Layng. “Swimming is a sure sign that summer is here, and through a progressive learn-to-swim program, we are providing these students with skills that will last a lifetime. Carrollton City Schools has always been a valuable partner to us, so we anticipate that this program will only continue to grow!”

As for the summer swimming lessons, Thomaston said the district is expecting nearly 240 students to participate. 

“We are instructing around 100 students from Carrollton Elementary School and about 140 between Carrollton Upper Elementary and Carrollton Middle School.”

Thomaston said he believes swimming is a survival skill every child should learn.

"All students should learn to swim as early in life as possible,” said Thomaston. “I was fortunate to have a local pool at our recreation center growing up. That’s where I learned to swim and the ability to do so has saved my life in stressful situations in water. This partnership between the district and the City of Carrollton will provide a much needed service to our families. The idea is that if one life is ever saved due to this partnership, it will be a huge win for our community."

Teaching life skills to students is a priority for the district. 

This spring, Carrollton High School held its second annual Senior Adulting Day — an idea CHS Principal Ian Lyle said is a way to better prepare students for the real world. The event featured different stations for seniors to visit to learn anything from sewing on a button to changing a tire to understanding the basics on how to take out a loan to buy a car.

Students may also take the Tools for Life course at CHS which teaches several of the items listed above as well as driver’s education which began being offered as an elective last year. 


Class of 2023 earns more than $9 million in scholarship offers
Cali Jones

Carrollton High School graduates of the Class of 2023 received $9 million in scholarship offers from colleges and universities, not including the HOPE/Zell Miller scholarships, which awarded an additional $1.9 million to more than 400 graduates this year. 

Carrollton High School graduate Jocelyn Hernandez received the Hagan Scholarship which is valued at approximately $60,000. Jocelyn is attending Auburn University this fall and plans to pursue a career in construction management.

The majority of the awards were offered by educational institutions, but there also were private awards presented by individuals and nonprofit entities, including the Carrollton City Schools Education Foundation.

Though many students earned awards for academic success, five graduates were presented $10,000 awards from the REACH Scholarship program for their commitment to focus on academic achievement. The REACH Georgia Scholarship program promises students the support they need to graduate from high school and achieve postsecondary success. This year there are five recipients who received $10,000 scholarships to attend a Georgia college or university as a reward for successfully completing the mentoring/support program — Alison Steele, Dontavious Phillips, and Cynthia Gomez-Cruz, Ryshawn Powell and Zikera Watson.

Carrollton High School emphasizes a focus on academics, arts and athletics and has produced a mix of scholarship offers that recognize the outcome of this focus. Six students received significant scholarships for their academic excellence: E’Layiah Ackles received a full-ride to Davidson College with a scholarship amount totaling around $300,000. Kyleigh Smith is attending the University of Alabama and received a total of $151,000 in scholarship awards. A’Maya Philpot received approximately $136,000 to attend Tuskegee University. Emma Harris is attending the University of Georgia and received the Hagan Scholarship Award totaling approximately $60,000. Jocelyn Hernandez also received the Hagan Scholarship Award and will attend Auburn Univeristy this fall. Bobby Patel received approximately $114,000 from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"These students are the top academic performers at CHS, but are also well-rounded and multi-talented students involved in many school activities," said CHS Principal Ian Lyle. “I am excited to follow their college journey. I know they will continue to make us proud."


Carrollton seniors Esslinger, Camp earn top academic honors
Cali Jones

Even with a strong class of academic seniors at Carrollton High School this year, two still had to rise to the top in performance to claim the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian. 

Belle Esslinger earned the top honor — valedictorian —for finishing her career at CHS with the highest average while Walker Camp was recognized for earning the second highest average to be designated the salutatorian for the Class of 2023. The announcement was made Thursday preceding the commencement ceremony. 

Belle’s passion for science landed her in the Governor’s Honors Program her junior year, further fueling her fascination for learning. Walker is an Eagle Scout and also an alum of the prestigious Governor’s Honors program. He is a pianist and saxophonist in the Trojan Band. Both Belle and Walker were nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholar Awards.

Belle, the daughter of Bill and Debbie Esslinger, will attend Georgia Institute of Technology this fall. Belle was a member of National Spanish Honor Society, HOSA, FBLA, and served as treasurer of Key Club. She was a National AP Scholar with Distinction and received the Georgia Certificate of Merit.

Walker, the son of Andrew and Molly Camp, is also attending Georgia Institute of Technology this fall. He plans to major in biochemistry. He was a member of the Anchor Club, National Honors Society, Bring Change 2 Mind, Math Team, Spanish Club, and Student Council. 

CHS Principal said he thinks the two students will go far in life. 

"Belle and Walker are the epitome of students who seize every opportunity to succeed,” said Lyle. “Their efforts have paid off and I am confident they will go far. I am proud to call them alumni of Carrollton High School."

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