Mays Girls Lead Historic Day for APS at Track and Field State Championships

Mays Girls Track and Field 2017 Class 6A State Champs
The Mays girls track and field team won the program’s first state championship, last Saturday at the Georgia High Schools Association Class 6A state track and field championships, held in Carrollton.

The year of championships in Atlanta Public Schools came to a thrilling conclusion over the weekend as APS student athletes shined at the Georgia High School Association Track and Field State Championship meets over the weekend.

From the team standpoint, the Mays girls led the way, winning the Class 6A team championship. It is the first track and field state championship for the Mays girls and the second state title this year won by a girls’ team at Mays. The Lady Raiders won the Class 6A state title in basketball in March.

At the Class 6A meet, held in Carrollton, Mays got strong performance across the board. Class 6A Basketball Player of the Year Kamiyah Street placed first in the 300-meter hurdles, fourth in the 400 meters, and tied for fifth in the high jump. Also, Sydni Gilmore won the triple jump while Kendra Whitehurst placed seventh in the event. Chloe Robinson and Kendra took second and fourth place, respectively, in the long jump, Kendra and Jazmine Hall placed fifth and seventh, respectively, in the 100-meter hurdles and the Raider 1,600-meter relay team won gold while the 400-meter relay team placed sixth.

The South Atlanta girls’ team came in second at the Class 2A meet, held in Albany.  The Lady Hornets were led by Subrina Richman who won the 200 and 400 meters, Quadiana Medlock was fifth in the 100 meters, Iyana Wongus was third in the 400 meters, and the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams took first.

The Grady boys’ team placed third at the Class 5A meet in Carrollton, led by Christian McNair-Jones who won the 110-meter and the 300-meter hurdles. Babakarr Randall was fourth in the 100 and second in the 200, Jermaine Hosley was fourth in the 400, Ryan Jackson placed fifth in the 800, DeAndre Etienne was eighth in the pole vault, Jacquez Sloan was third in the long jump and Seth Wolfe was eighth in the shot put.

Other strong individual performances included:


  • Mutnodjmet Debnam of Grady won the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Soteria Russell of Carver won the shot put in Class 5A.
  • Ryah Jackson of Maynard Jackson was seventh the 100-meter hurdles and eighth in the 300-meter hurdles in Class 5A.
  • China Waldorf of Maynard Jackson was fifth in the 300-meter hurdles and sixth in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Shamara Holmes of Maynard Jackson was third in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Jabrea Smith of Maynard Jackson was seventh in the triple jump in Class 5A.
  • The Maynard Jackson girls’ 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay teams both placed fifth in Class 5A.
  • Dailyn Scott of Coretta Scott King was third in the 800 meters in Class 2A.
  • The Douglass girls’ 1,600-meter relay team took third in Class 2A.


  • Demetri Caesar of Mays won the high jump in Class 5A.
  • Carver’s 1,600-meter relay team was fourth in Class 5A.
  • Osazi Alkhaliq of Maynard Jackson was seventh in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Alan Johnson of Mays was third in the 800 meters in Class 5A.
  • Jackson Pearce of North Atlanta was fifth in the 1,600 meters in Class 5A.
  • Phillip Jackson of South Atlanta won the 400 meters in Class 2A.
  • Deshun Cade of Douglass was second in the 100 meters in Class 2A.
  • Montaive Lightner of Douglass was fourth in the 400 meters in Class 2A.
  • Jimmie Pierre of Douglass was sixth in the 800 meters in Class 2A.
  • Timothy Heyward of Washington finished eighth in the pole vault in Class 2A.
  • Richad White of South Atlanta finished sixth in the shot put in Class 2A.
  • Douglass’ 400-meter relay team finished second in Class 2A.
  • Douglass’ had two teams competing in the 1,600-meter relay in Class 2A. The “A-Team” finished fifth and the “B-Team” placed seventh.
  • South Atlanta’s 1,600-meter relay team finished fourth in Class 2A.

To view a video of APS’ historic day at the state track and field meets, click here.







Morningside Elementary School Named a 2017 Green Ribbon School By U.S. Dept. of Education


MES Green Ribbon School

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Morningside Elementary School has been selected as a 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School for its commitment to sustainable practices.

The award honors Morningside’s leadership in facilities, health and environmental education. In addition to Morningside, two other elementary schools, as well as the University of Georgia, were among the Georgia winners of the Green Ribbon School award.

“It is with such pride that Morningside celebrates our award as a 2017 US Department of Education Green Ribbon school,” Principal Audrey Sofianos said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized for our work in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness of our students, and providing environmental education that has now become a part of our school culture.”

As part of this national award distinction, Morningside is recognized for recently installing a $5 million HVAC unit that works simultaneously to both heat and cool the building, thus reducing the need for two separate units and reducing energy costs.

The school has also established a recycling program, worked to improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and provided effective environmental and sustainability education while incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways. This includes everything from student lessons and activities in the garden and Morningside’s Trees Atlanta partnership, to its turf fields that conserve water and other initiatives that have become a part of the school culture.

Across the country, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

Morningside and the other awardees will be honored on July 19 in Washington, D.C.


Assistant Attorney General of Georgia Inspires SPARK Students

Asst Attorney General of GA Visits SPARK

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Assistant Attorney General of Georgia Taylor Johnston recently visited Springdale Park Elementary School, inspiring a group of fifth-grade students to study hard, help others, and excel in school and their future careers.

Invited by Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) teacher Lisa Evans, Johnston visited SPARK as part of the Grady Cluster’s focus on preparing students for college and career. This school year, students have explored career possibilities and learned how creativity impacts their career choices.

During his visit, Johnston entertained students’ questions, explained how the legal system works, and shared what it takes to be a good lawyer.

“There are no required classes to attend law school,” Johnston told students. “You can study a language, philosophy, history, science, or anything else in college. In law school, you’re learning to read and think about the law. And as a lawyer, you must be able to understand what the other side is thinking or arguing. Being articulate will help make you a persuasive speaker.”

As an assistant attorney general, Johnston works in the criminal justice division, representing the State of Georgia in criminal appeals when defendant’s appeal their murder convictions. Johnston also represents the Georgia Department of Corrections in habeas corpus actions when inmates challenge the validity of their convictions. He is currently working as a fellow in the Attorney General’s Office.

Johnston said he was happy to share his experience with students.

“It’s important to give back, and I’m happy to share advice with younger kids,” said Johnston, a Macon native and alumnus of Duke University School of Law, who plans to become a federal prosecutor. “I enjoy passing along what I’ve learned.”

Evans said Johnston’s visit was part of her mission to expose students to creative careers. Previous guest speakers have included a lighting director, patent attorney and web designer and product developer.

“As a gifted educator, learning how to infuse and promote creativity and creative problem solving has always been an on-going goal and passion of mine,” Evans said.


E. Rivers Elementary Students Explore a World of Fun During STEAM Day

Second-grade students at E. Rivers Elementary School spent time extracting DNA from strawberries during STEAM Day.

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Petting a chicken. Extracting DNA from a strawberry. Flying a drone. Exploring the wonders of space. Programming sphero robots.

These were just some of the many lessons students at E. Rivers Elementary School learned last week when they participated in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Day. The daylong event was designed to expose students to the fun-filled world of science, technology, engineering, arts and math in ways they never dreamed possible.

Featuring keynote speaker Jon Cowart, NASA partner manager with the SpaceX Program, the event included nearly 30 presenters from 20 Atlanta-based organizations who spoke with students about everything from sustainability and the science behind farming and package delivery, to speech pathology and exploring stars via a mobile planetarium.

First graders learn about all about chickens from City Chicks Atlanta.

Presenting organizations included City Chicks, City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Chattahoochee Nature Center, UPS, Emory University, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and Trees Atlanta, among others.

“We wanted to show kids all the ways they haven’t quite thought of as science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said parent Annie Goode, who helped organize the event. “They’re learning how fun and exciting STEAM is and how it applies to every aspect of our lives.”

Fourth grader Ella Sipe poses with her mom, Megan Watkins, who helped organize STEAM Day

Students spent the day engaged in several hands-on activities, which included extracting strawberry DNA, making paper architectural structures, and learning about veterinary medicine and the important work the CDC does to prevent and cure diseases.

First grader Riley Sipe said his favorite part of STEAM Day was learning about space.

“It was really good and really fun,” said Riley, who learned that a baby star is bigger than an entire solar system, and that it takes more than two years to travel to and from Mars.

Riley’s sister, Ella, thought STEAM Day was just as fun.

“It’s great because so many people get to come and talk about science,” said the fourth grader, who wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. “This is hands-on, and the presentations are interesting. You always learn something new. It’s not dull, you can ask questions, and they show you experiments.”




North Atlanta High School Boys win First Area Championship in Lacrosse for APS

North Atlanta LAX
The North Atlanta High School boys’ lacrosse team won the Class AAAAAAA/AAAAAA Area 2 championship. The Warriors will host a first-round playoff game on May 4.

The North Atlanta High School boys lacrosse team has made history by becoming the first Atlanta Public School to win an area championship in the sport.

The Warriors finished the regular season a perfect 6-0 in Area 2 of the Georgia High School Association’s (GHSA) Class AAAAAA/AAAAAAA. In lacrosse, the state’s two largest classifications – Class AAAAAAA and AAAAAAA – are combined into one, while the state’s other five classifications – A through AAAAA – are combined into one as well.

As the Area 2 champs, North Atlanta will host a first round state playoff game on May 4 against the No. 4 seeded team from Area 4 (most likely to be Walton of Cobb County, Roswell of Fulton County, or Etowah of Cherokee County).

While they did not win a regular season championship, the Warriors girls squad has advanced to the state playoffs as well. As the No. 3 seed from Area 2, they will travel to Walton (Cobb County), the No. 2 seed from Area 4, for a first round playoff game on May 4.

Both North Atlanta squads will close out the regular season tonight against their APS rivals, Grady, at Grady stadium. The girls game is at 5:30, while the boys start at 7 p.m.

Grady’s teams advanced to the state playoffs as well. Both Grey Knight squads are No. 4 seeds from Area 1 of Class A/AAAAA and will play first round playoff games against No. 1 seeds on the road, May 2. The boys will face Westminster (Atlanta, private) while the girls will play Kell (Cobb County).

Bunche Middle School Treble Chorus Wins National Competition

Bunche MS Treble Chorus (2017)
The Ralph J. Bunche Middle School Treble Chorus won first place in the 2017 Southern Star Music Festival.

Atlanta Public Schools have won championships in a number of competitions this school year, from sports to science to debate. Now you can add the arts to the list.

The Ralph J. Bunche Middle School Treble Chorus took first place in the Choral Division for Middle and High Schools in 2017 Southern Star Music Festival, held last week in Atlanta at the Riverside Epic Center.  The judges consisted of a three-person panel made up of college music professors.

Performing “Sing for Joy!” by George F. Handel (arrangement by Linda Spevacek) and “Ain’t That Good News” by Moses Hogan, the Bunche Treble Chorus sang its way to a historic victory by outperforming more than 28 school choruses, bands and orchestra groups from seven different states. The group not only won its division but also was crowned the competition’s Sweepstake and Grand Champions.

2017 Ralph J. Bunche Middle School Treble Chorus
Eighth Graders:  Milon Daniel and Kaya Rossman

Seventh Graders:  Iaan Brown, Justice Carswell, Ja’Kobe Graham, Yasmine Moyer, Kashira Johnson, Rakelle Holland, Tiffani Rucker and Brianna Sellers

Sixth Graders:  Paris Battle, Kimora Butler, Kalia Cook, Revelations Deloney, Jasmine Farmer, Myra Gordan, Aline Serge, Rhyleigh Goss, Brianna Grant, Jazmyn Jackson, Makyia King, Winston McKenny, Zyniah Milner, Oscar Oquendo, T’Leah Raven, Courtney Vence, Eva Ware, DeAndrea West, JeQuan Wilburn, Zoe Winston

Amber Stewart Brings Renewed Energy to Role as Partnerships Manager

Amber StewartAtlanta Public Schools proudly welcomes Amber Stewart as Partnerships Manager in the Office of Partnerships and Development. A former APS teacher, learning specialist and gifted coordinator, Stewart comes to APS from the education nonprofit Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education (AFAEE), where she served as executive director and program director. She began her new role April 10.

As Partnerships Manager, Stewart will work with schools and community stakeholders to create enriching partnerships that benefit the children of APS. She is honored and excited to begin work learning about the needs of the various school cluster communities, and intends to be a valuable resource in the context of our new charter system by helping school leaders leverage their flexibility and autonomy to solidify partnerships that will strengthen strategic and cluster plans. Stewart believes in being a humble servant and good listener, and is looking forward to meeting with school leaders and teachers to find ways to bring excitement, innovation, and support to classrooms and schools across the district.

“As a former APS educator and nonprofit partner of APS, I am thrilled to join the APS team as Partnerships Manager,” Stewart said. “It has been exciting to see the transformative efforts of the district from the sideline, so I am ecstatic that I now get to roll up my sleeves and jump into the work firsthand. I count it a joy to serve the children of Atlanta and hope to make a deep and meaningful impact through my work in the Office of Partnerships and Development.”

Prior to her role with AFAEE, Stewart served as the founding gifted coordinator and instructor for both KIPP STRIVE Academy and KIPP Vision Academy, during which time she became an award recipient of the Atlanta Families’ Award. Before this, she taught at KIPP STRIVE Academy for four years in various roles. Stewart also served as a first-grade teacher with Teach For America at Brookview Elementary School in Fulton County.

Stewart is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and minored in French. A wife and mother of a young son, Stewart enjoys serving at her church, reading and dancing.