Bienvenue à Atlanta! (Welcome to Atlanta!)


Ralph J. Bunche Middle School welcomes students from its sister school in Verdun, France

Bonjour! Comment ça va? (Hello! How are you?) These are the popular phrases that poured from the mouths of Bunche students as they greeted their new friends from France.

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, 32 French middle school students and four teachers arrived to the Southwest Atlanta school for Bunche Chargers’ first foreign exchange program.

“We wanted to come to the United States to celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I. We were put in contact with Bunche Middle School and Madame Nakou,” said Serena Hannequin, an English teacher at Maurice Barres College in Verdun, France.

Akouvi Nakou teaches French at Bunche and spent nearly a year coordinating the eight-day exchange, which supports language development and cultural proficiency.  The exchange was made possible by the Georgia Department of Education’s Sister School Partner Program.

Madame Nakou says Maurice Barres College not only wanted to commemorate the 100 anniversary of World War I but also wanted to honor the African-American soldiers who battled in Verdun and helped end the war. Atlanta’s rich African-American history and large African-American population made our city a great fit.

Throughout the week, French students will stay with host families, who include Bunche faculty and community members. Each day, students will visit tourist attractions and Atlanta landmarks, including the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Civil and Human Rights Movement.

French students will also shadow their Bunche student partners for one class per day, and students will collectively debrief about their exchange experiences.

Ç’est super! (That’s great)

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A Virtual Doctor is in the House: Fickett Elementary School Unveils New Telehealth Pilot Program

Fickett Elementary School nurse Satonya Kimbro shows Sonja Leonard, a fourth grader, a picture of what her inner ear looks like during a recent unveiling of telehealth technology at the school.

Fickett Elementary School fourth grader Sonja Leonard stared in amazement at the computer screen before her, peering eagerly to see the pinkish, fleshy portion of her inner ear.

Sonja, however, wasn’t at the doctor’s office for a routine visit. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Sonja and her mother joined dozens of other Fickett Elementary School students and parents to see the unveiling of an innovative telehealth pilot program that is equivalent to having a doctor or a specialist at their school.

The system will go live in October, and represents a tremendous opportunity to fundamentally change the ways that school health care professionals access quality healthcare on behalf of children while at school.

“I love it, and the technology makes seeing the doctor much easier,” said Sonja’s mom, Frances Smith.

Sponsored in partnership with CareSource, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, this innovative program is believed to be the first of its kind in metro Atlanta. The state-of-the-art diagnostic technology enables Fickett to support long-distance clinical healthcare for students, allowing unprecedented access to medical doctors – all without having to leave school and their parents missing work.

Using specialized equipment, this ‘virtual doctor’ technology now expands access to care for all students at Fickett. The telehealth hardware will allow capabilities like real-time videoconferencing, store-and-forward high-resolution imaging, and other diagnostic technology to support and promote long-distance clinical health care.

Nurse Satonya Kimbro connects virtually with CHOA nurse Martha Cargill as part of the unveiling of telehealth pilot program at Fickett Elementary School.

The program will be similar to having a network of virtual doctors available at Fickett Elementary. For instance, if a student has a cold, ear infection, asthma or other illness, a specialized physician from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will be easily accessible for diagnostics and available to recommend treatment based on a virtual exam.

“The technology is wonderful,” said Satonya Kimbro, school nurse at Fickett. “As healthcare professionals, this allows us to assist more students and prevents them from going to the emergency room. We can also call in prescriptions, which prevents parents from missing work and going to the hospital, all while allowing kids to stay in school.”

CHOA will begin providing medical services for students in mid-October. If successful, there is the potential to grow the program and use Fickett as a model for how schools can implement telehealth services.

Dr. Nicole Spiller, director of Student and Intervention Supports for Atlanta Public Schools, said the collaboration will allow APS to advance healthcare for all of students.

“This project removes barriers to students’ access to healthcare while ill, while also alleviating the inconveniences for a parent who would otherwise have to leave work to bring the child to a doctor’s appointment,” Dr. Spiller said. It’s our intention is to use this pilot as a model of virtual patient care and potentially expand to other APS schools and clusters.”

From left to right: Martha Cargill, nurse practitioner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; Bobby Jones, president, Georgia Market for CareSource; Satonya Kimbro, school nurse at Fickett Elementary School; and Dr. Seema Csukas, medical director with CareSource pose in front of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, where some children at Fickett will receive mobile healthcare.




Scientists in the Making: APS Students Help Kick Off First Google Science Fair Competition


On Thursday, Sept. 13, 100 high school students from across Atlanta Public Schools helped bring their scientific ideas to life during the launch of the international Google Science Fair at the King Plow Arts Center.

A global, worldwide online science competition sponsored by Google, Lego, Virgin Galactic, National Geographic and Scientific American, the Google Science Fair is designed to inspire teens around the world to solve real-world problems through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

Students from B.E.S.T. Academy, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Benjamin E. Mays, Therrell, North Atlanta, Grady and Maynard Jackson high schools participated in hands-on, interactive activities to help them brainstorm fun and innovative project ideas for this year’s competition. Throughout the day, students worked in teams to complete activities such as purifying water, building a better insulator, and creating blades for windmills to determine the amount of energy needed.

Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, APS staff, Google representatives, and members of the Georgia House Science and Technology Committee were also on hand to celebrate the occasion.

Dr. Rabieh Hafza, APS science coordinator for grades 6-12, said the event was specifically designed to get students inspired about science and to begin thinking about problem solving.

“Often, kids don’t have the resources to do a science fair project, but this event provides them with an opportunity to do it online, at their house, or wherever, and it tends to remove all the barriers that might be there,” Dr. Hafza said. “We are trying to do that for our kids as well. Some of our students have great ideas … they just need to put it on paper and get it out there. These challenges will get them geared up and excited about science. I hope they go back and say, ‘this was an amazing event. I’m going to do the online science competition.'”

One of those students is Osazi Alkhaliq, a senior at Maynard Jackson High School. On Thursday, he and his three teammates were busy forming layers of sand, aluminum foil, tissue paper and cotton, all in an attempt to build a better insulator.

“It’s fun, and it helped spark a lot of creativity,” said Osazi, president of the award-winning Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project team, who has plans to study biochemistry in college. “Our team was able to bounce ideas off of each other.”

Other students like Kiki Sofo, a junior at Grady High School, and fellow junior David Eleby of North Atlanta High School were busy purifying water using a coffee filter, a cut-out water bottle, charcoal and sand. The activity was designed to filter out the sand and mix it with other items to to help purify the water.

“It’s a really good opportunity to learn,” said Lindsey Curtis, a sophomore at Grady High School.

Dr. Hafza said he hopes the event will continue to inspire students to think big and see themselves as scientists.

“I hope this helps them realize that you don’t have to look like Albert Einstein to be a scientist,” he said. “It’s all about identity.”





APS Students Paint Colorful Pianos for Peace


Paint brushes became tools for peace and pianos became canvases for student artists at 11 Atlanta Public Schools who designed colorful contributions for the Pianos for Peace Festival.

APS students, as well as professional artists, hand painted 50 pianos that are now on display in public places throughout metro Atlanta for everyone to play and anyone to enjoy.

The piano painted by Frederick Douglass High School students is displayed inside the Five Points MARTA Station, where 28-year-old singer Prince DreVeon made an impromptu performance on Sept. 11.

“This is the first piano that I’ve been practicing on,” DreVeon said. “Thank you Douglass High School for believing in the power of music.”

Boyd Elementary School’s piano is displayed at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University. Pianos designed by students at Brown Middle School, Carver Early College High School, Finch Elementary School, Grady High School, Harper-Archer Middle School, Inman Middle School, Maynard Jackson High School, M.A. Jones Elementary School and North Atlanta High School are displayed in front of each respective school.

After the outdoor festival, all painted pianos will be donated to local schools, nursing homes, healthcare facilities and community centers where volunteer artists will participate in yearlong arts initiatives.

Pianos for Peace will celebrate International Day of Peace on Friday, Sept. 21, with a closing ceremony at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The celebration will feature local musicians, a children’s choir and APS bands.

The Pianos for Peace Festival runs through Sept. 22. For locations and additional information, click here.


Ralph J. Bunche Middle School is ‘No Place for Hate’

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On Friday, Sept. 7, Ralph J. Bunche Middle School hosted its first rally of the new school year, a high-energy assembly combatting bias, bullying and hatred.

The Chargers join more than 1,600 schools across the country that are making their schools “No Place for Hate,” an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) initiative that provides Pre-K-12 schools with an organizing framework for long-term solutions for creating and maintaining a positive climate.

In addition to creating “No Place for Hate” posters, students signed resolutions of respect to confirm their commitment. After an opening welcome and “No Place for Hate” program overview by eighth-grade student, Shyanne Willis, Hot 107.9’s radio personality, Reec, took over as emcee.

Author Kenyata Martin spoke to students about his second chance at life. Martin was once one of youngest inmates in the Georgia state prison system; at age 13 he was sentenced to 10 years for armed robbery.

APS graduate DaQuarius “Q” Greene also shared his testimony of how one poor decision to text while driving  drastically impacted lives and left him partially paralyzed. He discussed the importance of good influences, good decision-making, and anti-bullying in general.  Students were engaged and held on to every word.

The rally also featured musical artists and a television personality. This was the first of many activities to come that support the “No Place for Hate” campaign.

~Story contributed by Cassandra Bolding, Ralph J. Bunche Middle School business manager and communications ambassador


Cascade Elementary Celebrates Grandparents Over Lunch

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Cascade Elementary School held its annual Grandparents Day Celebration on Sept. 7, welcoming a record 48 grandparents for a school lunch date with their grandchildren.

Kimberly R. David, Cascade Elementary School International Baccalaureate specialist and communications ambassador, says the purpose of the annual event is to honor grandparents, give grandparents an opportunity to show their love for their grandchildren, and to help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance that seniors can offer.

“Grandparents play a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren. They provide support, advice and love,” David said.

Previous years’ attendance averaged around 20 participating grandparents.

National Grandparents Day was Sept. 9.


Burgess Peterson Educator Wins First Ever Georgia World Language Award


Burgess-Peterson Elementary School APS Foreign Language Teacher Asiaa Karriem, has been named the first Georgia Department of Education’s (GADOE) World Languages Educator Award winner!

Karriem was surprised during the schools morning meeting by APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen and GADOE World Languages Program Specialist Patrick Wallace.

Karriem received this award for demonstrating a commitment to world languages education and using her instruction to deepen cultural understanding. She uses techniques that engage, excite and motivate her students. The GADOE award committee expressed, ” She has such energy and enthusiasm for language instruction and exudes cultural awareness in ways that incentivize participation and performance from all students. Student proficiency in Spanish has risen as a result. In addition to being an outstanding classroom teacher, Karriem is also an excellent team player. She consistently collaborates with her colleagues at the school to create cultural explorations and transdisciplinary learning.”


Karriem also held a fundraiser to take students to a Spanish-speaking country during Spring Break. Her classroom is viewed as a model for the district, inspiring other world language teachers to visit her classroom to learn best practice and techniques for world language instruction.

We congratulate Ms. Asiaa Karriem for her historic achievement and enthusiasm as her work plays a vital role in preparing our students for college and career!