We Need Your Voice! GO Teams Recruiting Candidates to Fill 400 Available Positions for 2018-2020 Term


It’s hard to believe, but we have been operating as a Charter System for nearly two years! Throughout this transition, we’ve seen greater transparency and increased engagement. A major factor in these improvements is the work of our GO Teams. Each school in our district has a nine-member governance team that works collaboratively with the school principal to develop a strategic plan, approve an operating budget and offer input on personnel decisions. These teams are charged with seeking out new and innovative ways to ensure every student is afforded the tools and support necessary for success.

The best part of operating as a charter system is that each GO Team can really look at the needs of the students it serves. Not the district as a whole, but the needs of an individual school community. In June, the first two-year term will expire, leaving more than 400 seats available on GO Teams all over the district. That’s at least five positions at each school.

Now, it’s your turn! The GO Teams in place now have done an incredible job in this first term. Many team members have already put their names in the hat to run again but we need more! You don’t need experience or special skills, just a willingness to learn and an interest in building a better APS for the 50,000+ kiddos in our school community.

So, here’s what we need…we have two parent/guardian seats and two educator seats at each school. Anyone interested can easily declare candidacy online at www.apsstrongschools.com now through February 23. Virtual voting for declared candidates will be open March 20-26. We also have community member seats open. Anyone interested in those positions can register online as well. Candidates for these seats are nominated by the principal and approved by the team.

GO Teams give our parents, educators and community members a real voice … It’s a genuine opportunity to positively impact the future of your Atlanta Public Schools. You can be the voice our students need. Strong Schools Start With You!

Grady Students Win Competition to Create Inclusive and Accessible Theater Opportunities In Atlanta

Grady HS_Team PandaMonium

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

A group of students at Henry W. Grady High School is determined to make a difference in the community and the world around them.

Now, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo and diversity training from No Barriers Youth, they are doing just that.

Working with their social studies teacher Nadia Goodvin, ninth graders Joanna Baker, Maura O’Sullivan, Henry Gelber, Charlie Gilbert, Bradley Colburn-Stanger, and Bianca Weber recently won a trip to New York City and a $5,000 grant as part of the Global Impact Challenge’s grand prize.

The challenge is a national competition designed to spark the best ideas from high school and middle school students for building a world free of barriers, stereotypes and discrimination. “Team PandaMonium,” as they’re affectionately known, plans to use their prize to create entertainment and social connections for children with sensory processing disorder, and to develop training for high school volunteers interested in building inclusive practices within our community.

The students have since formed their own nonprofit organization, SenseAbility Atlanta, which is dedicated to creating a full-scale clearinghouse of sensory-friendly performance options. They will also host sensory-friendly performances they plan to develop with local theaters such as the Horizon Theatre, Georgia Institute of Technology, and 7 Stages Theatre.

Students hope their efforts will both increase awareness in the Atlanta community about autism and other developmental challenges, as well as create opportunities for families who may have been homebound for lack of acceptance in prior recreation options.

“I hope this project will increase awareness in Atlanta’s theater communities of sensory accessibility and help families broaden their horizons in that respect,” said Maura O’Sullivan.

Goodvin applauded their efforts.

“The students are serious about the viability of their project proposals,” she said. “It’s amazing how a group of kids can bring an idea to life. Their enthusiasm and confidence inspire me. They will do so much good in their lives.”

No Barriers Youth is the premier educational program challenging young people to contribute their absolute best to the world. This is achieved through transformative experiences, classroom tools and real-world inspiration.

Teachers from 20 schools across the U.S. were chosen for training last summer in Tahoe and this fall, they recruited diverse teams of students to provide hands on training designed to foster creativity and develop projects to address local diversity and inclusion issues. Common themes developed by competing teams included improving accessibility, encouraging the inclusion of diverse ability populations, and recognizing the contributions of people with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Subject matter experts from Wells Fargo and No Barriers USA jointly evaluated the project proposals and video presentations. Overall, teams participating in the Global Impact Challenge included 156 students in nine states.

Team PandaMonium will travel to the 2018 No Barriers Summit, Oct. 5–6, in New York City. The summit is a premiere immersive event that brings together people of all backgrounds and abilities who are transcending barriers to unleash their fullest potential and live a life of purpose.



APS Celebrates Black History Month 2018

BAMO Black History Contest - Group 2018
Barack and Michelle Obama Academy held a look-alike contest on Monday (February 12), one of several activities the school has planned to celebrate Black History Month.

Throughout the month of February, Atlanta Public Schools all across the city will celebrate Black History Month with an array of fun, innovative, thought-provoking and entertaining activities, all designed to educate and inspire students and observers.

Barack and Michelle Obama Academy on Monday (February 12) launched its slate of BAMO Black History Contest (2018)activities this month, with a look-alike contest to see which students could best match the appearance of the nation’s first African-American president and his wife. Along with the contest, students read books about President Obama, and watched and listened to media interviews featuring the 44th President of the United States and his wife.

Later this week, the school will host “Where It All Began” Day, where faculty and administrators will dress in authentic African garb. Additionally, two members of the school staff who were born in Africa will conduct brief presentations for students where they will describe what life is like in their native countries.

Here is an extended list of Black History Month activities in APS:


Date Time School Event
2/15 5:00 p.m. Dobbs Elementary School Black history program
2/16 2:00 p.m. Jackson High School Inspired By The Past:  A Vision For The Future…The Legacy of the Harlem Renaissance
2/16 2:00 p.m. South Atlanta High School Black history program
2/16 8:05 a.m. Burgess-Peterson Academy Black history program with chorus, grade level performances, and artwork (Portraits of Revolutionaries)
2/18 3:00 p.m. South Atlanta High School Band Hart County NAACP Black History Month Parade
2/23-28 All day Crim High School Torn paper artwork showcasing influential black artists
2/24 1:00-4:00 p.m. South Atlanta High School Band Atlanta Black History Month Parade, https://www.blackhistorymonthparade.com/
2/26 5:00-7:00 p.m. Mays High School Black history concert, “We Shall Overcome,” with chorus and theatre
2/27 10:15 a.m. North Atlanta High School Black history program
2/27 1:00 p.m. Cleveland Avenue Elementary School Black history program
2/27 5:30-7:30 p.m. Continental Colony Elementary School Black history program
2/28 9:00 a.m. Humphries Elementary School Celebrate Our Past to Create our Future…with music, drama, dance, and oration
2/28 10:00 a.m. Brown Middle School Black history program
2/28 1:00 p.m. Benteen Elementary Black history program
2/28 1:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m. Sutton Middle School Black history program
2/28 5:00-7:00 p.m. Mays High School Art reception showcasing student works based on Emmett Till
2/28 6:00 p.m. Sylvan Hills Middle School Black history program with chorus, dance, band, and visual art
2/28 6:30 p.m. Carver High School Black history program
2/28 All day Bolton Academy Black history program
2/28 TBD Heritage Academy Black history program
2/28 TBD Long Middle School Black history program with music, drama, and oration
2/28 TBD Usher-Collier Elementary School Black history program
2/28 TBD Therrell High School Black history program
3/1 9:00 a.m. Miles Elementary School Black history program




10 APS Teams Advance to State Basketball Playoffs, Four as Region Champions

Douglass Girls Basketball (2018)
The Douglass girls’ basketball team won the Region 6-AA championship over the weekend and will enter the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The Lady Astros will host Spencer of Columbus on Friday.

Atlanta Public Schools will be well represented in the Georgia High Schools Association (GHSA) state basketball playoffs this week, as 10 APS teams have advanced to three-week tournament, four as region champions.

The Douglass girls (16-6) won the Region 6-AA championship with a 59-34 win over KIPP Atlanta Collegiate last Friday night. The Lady Astros will host Spencer (Columbus-Muscogee County) at 6 p.m., Friday, in the first round of the state tournament. The Green Waves, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AA, have a record of 7-17.

The Maynard Jackson boys (24-2) won the Region 6-AAAAA title with a 69-62 win over Riverwood (Fulton County) last Saturday. The Jaguars are currently ranked No. 10 in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Class AAAAA Top 10 poll. They will host traditional DeKalb County powerhouse Columbia (19-8), Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Eagles are the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAAAA.

The North Atlanta boys (19-9) enter the tournament ranked No. 9 in the AJC Class AAAAAA Top 10 poll, after defeating Cambridge (Fulton County), 69-62, in the Region 7-AAAAAA title game. As the region champion and No. 1 seed, the Warriors will host Apalachee (Bartow County), the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA, Friday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are 11-14 this season.

The Therrell boys (18-7) defeated rival South Atlanta, 80-73, last Friday to win the Region 6-AA championship. Therrell is ranked No. 5 and South Atlanta is No. 6 in the latest AJC Class AA Top 10 poll. Therrell will host Heard County (7-19), the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AA, Saturday at 7 p.m.

Here are the other APS schools that advanced to the state tournament:

Maynard Jackson (17-6) is the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAAAA. The Lady Jaguars will host Miller Grove (DeKalb County), the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA, Friday at 6 p.m. The Lady Wolverines are 15-11 this season.

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate (13-11) is the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA. The Lady Warriors will host Heard County (9-14), the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AA, Friday at 6 p.m.

South Atlanta (12-11) is the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA, and will play at Callaway (Troup County), Friday at 6 p.m. The Lady Braves are 8-12 this season.

Therrell (9-12) is the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA. The Lady Panthers will travel to Lamar County to face the Lady Trojans (20-6), the Region 5-AA champions, Friday at 8 p.m.

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate (10-18) is the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA. The Warriors will travel to Columbus to face Jordan (12-12), the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA, Saturday at 5 p.m.

South Atlanta (23-4) is the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA. The Hornets, last season’s Region 6-AA and Class AA state champions, will host Temple (Carroll County), the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA. The Tigers are 12-12 this season.

North Atlanta boys basketball (2018)
The North Atlanta boys basketball team won the Region 7-AAAAAA championship over the weekend and will enter the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The Warriors will host Apalachee of Bartow County on Friday.

Forrest Hills Academy Students Participate in Future Business Leaders of America Conference

FBLA Pic #1
Left to right: Forrest Hills Academy students Chris Kent, Kevin Knight, and Lamar Upshaw recently participated in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Region Leadership Conference.

Congratulations goes out to Forrest Hill Academy students Lamar Upshaw, Chris Kent and Kevin Knight, who recently placed ninth in their district and 15th in the state for the Digital Video Production Event at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Region Leadership Conference.

Thanks to Forrest Hills’ partnership with re:imagine/ATL, students recently received a five-week mentoring and film production program worth nearly $10,000. Students were given the unique opportunity to work with a local film producer to create and shoot a three- to four-minute video that asks, “Why does your school need a FBLA chapter?”

In honor of their hard work, members of re:imagine/ATL treated Lamar, Chris and Kevin to a celebration dinner at a local restaurant. The three students later attended an animation workshop to further their newfound passion of learning more about film and technology.

Although the competition has ended, Kevin, Chris and Lamar plan to continue their work with re:imagine/ATL. Kevin plans to begin his first internship with a local production studio in Atlanta, while Lamar hopes to earn a scholarship to attend “The Green Room,” a summer music video camp at re:imagine/ATL.

Forrest Hills business teacher Mat Smith said the experience has led to several career-oriented opportunities for students.

“Together with our partners, Forrest Hills Academy has proven that a FBLA chapter is both impactful and beneficial to our students,” Smith said.



APS Students Showcase Their Talents at 57th Annual Districtwide Spelling Bee

2018 Spelling Bee Champions
Davis Trimble, center, a fifth grader at E. Rivers Elementary School, won first-place honors in the 57th Annual Districtwide Spelling Bee. Morris Brandon’s Lily Nastopoulos placed second; and Jacarri Almond, who attends B.E.S.T. Academy, earned third-place prize.

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

With profound deliberation and mastery, E. Rivers Elementary School fifth grader Davis Trimble successfully spelled “T-R-O-I-K-A” to become first-place winner of the Atlanta Public Schools 57th Annual District Wide Spelling Bee after eight grueling rounds of competition.

“It feels good,” Davis said after being crowned champion. “I spent a lot of time studying and it really paid off.”

Held on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Frederick Douglass High School in partnership with the Atlanta Association of Educators, this year’s spelling bee also produced two other winners: Morris Brandon’s Lily Nastopoulos and B.E.S.T. Academy’s Jacarri Almond, who received second and third-place honors, respectively.

Lily and Jacarri will join Davis in representing APS at the Georgia Association of Educators’ Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Douglass High School.

57th Annual Districtwide Spelling Bee

Students from more than 35 schools across the district participated in this year’s spelling bee, competing to spell a bevvy of difficult words, such as tempestuous, gargoyle, requisites, chinchilla, forsythia, peloton, camphor, diphthong, and more.

However, it wasn’t until Davis masterfully spelled the winning word, troika – which means a group of three – that a spelling bee champion was finally named.

“The spelling bee showcases some of the district’s best talent from elementary and middle schools in every cluster, and all of them are really fabulous spellers,” said Jermal Riggins, K-5 literacy coordinator for APS. “We are extremely proud of all of these outstanding students.”






UPDATE: North Atlanta Swimmers, Divers Shine at State Competition

Drew Sheldon - NAHS Diver (2018) cropped
North Atlanta junior Drew Sheldon placed eighth overall in the Georgia High School Association State Swimming and Diving Competition. The state’s two largest classifications compete together.


It was a big weekend for the North Atlanta swimming and diving program at the Georgia High Schools Association state meet!

Junior diver Drew Sheldon got things started on Friday when he earned the title as the top diver in Georgia’s second-largest classification (Class AAAAAA). In swimming and diving, the schools in the state’s two largest classifications – Class AAAAAAA and Class AAAAAA – compete in the same division, while schools in Class AAAAA through Class A compete against each other in another division. Drew placed eighth overall but was the highest scoring diver among competitors from Class AAAAAA schools – the first time this has ever been accomplished by a diver from Atlanta Public Schools. No other divers from Class AAAAAA placed in the top 10 and only four others placed in the top 20. It is a big week for Drew as earlier he was notified that he has been selected to compete for USA Water Polo’s 18-and-Under Olympic Development Team for the Southeast Zone.

 Also on Friday, North Atlanta senior Farley Tranakos qualified to compete in the girls’ state competition. Even though she just began competing in the sport last year, Farley is believed to be the first APS female to qualify for the state diving competition.

Then on Saturday, the North Atlanta girls’ team placed seventh in Class AAAAAA. It is the first time an APS team has placed in the state meet. Outstanding performances were turned in by the Warriors’ 200-yard medley relay team (fifth), made up of sophomore Taylor Hicks and freshmen Savannah Mason, Zoe Mock and Hannah Dabney; the 200-yard freestyle relay team (sixth) of seniors Lindsey Reeves and Katherine Jackson, junior Hunter Smith and freshman Hannah Dabney; the 400-yard freestyle relay team (sixth) of senior Lindsey Reeves, sophomore Taylor Hicks and freshmen Hannah Dabney and Zoe Mock;  Zoe Mock in the 100-yard breaststroke (11th); Taylor Hicks in the 100-yard backstroke (fourth); Hannah Dabney in the 50-yard freestyle (10th); and Taylor Hicks in the 200-yard intermediate (third).

The boys’ squad did not place in the team competition, however, the 200-yard freestyle relay team of juniors Ethan Roman and Bowden Maiellaro, and freshmen Ben Aspinwall and Jack Bynum placed 10th, and freshman Ben Stelle placed 11th in the 500-yard freestyle.

Farley Tranakos - NAHS Diving (2018) action
Farley Tranakos