Special Recognitions » 2022-2023


Georgia High School Association Class 3-A State Baseball Championship
Harlem High School

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This year, the Harlem High School baseball team won its first state championship since 1986. The team finished the season with an impressive 24 games in a row which allowed them to grow as a team. They lost the last regular season game, and the region championship, but then went on to win ten straight playoff games and clinched the state championship. They scored 309 total runs this season. The team received a hero’s welcome when they arrived back in Harlem following the state championship game. The Team's head coach Jimmy Lewis also achieves 860 total wins. This was a special season with a special group of young men. They would like to thank the families, fans, and friends who helped them on this incredible journey. Congratulations to the Harlem High School Baseball Team, the GHSA 3A State Champions! 

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tour bus group photo with sign group photo with trophy

Georgia School Boards Association
Summer Conference, Student Speaker

Evans High School graduate Alexis Pate was selected as one of two student speakers at the Georgia School Boards Association Summer Conference held in Savannah, GA, on June 10th.

Alexis' story is one of resiliency. From moving frequently and attending nine different schools to overcoming Attention Deficit Disorder and learning difficulties, she learned to never give up. She had been inspired by teachers and coaches to believe in herself even when her journey was not easy. Alexis delivered inspirational remarks to Boards of Education across the state. She was chosen to receive this distinction due to the impact her schooling has had on her development as a student-athlete.  Alexis will continue her journey at USC Lancaster on a volleyball scholarship. Congratulations, Alexis! 

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Alexis is pictured with members of the Columbia County Board of Education at the Georgia Schools Boards Association (GSBA) summer conference in Savannah, Ga. (photo courtesy of Chris Triplett and GSBA). 


Georgia High School Association 6A Track and Field State Championship

Students from Grovetown High and Lakeside High participated in the GHSA State Track and Field Championship on May 11th-13th at Rome High School, earning second and third place wins. 

Grovetown High

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Coaches: Damien Postell, Head Coach; Darren Short, Assistant Coach; Kathi Stewart; and Mark Gomez
Maddison Brister - 6A Girls 400-meter dash finals, 3rd place, 55.56

Maddison holds four(4) school records. She holds the 100 meter record, 200 meter record and fifth place at the state meet, 400 meter record (which she broke at the state meet for the third time this season finishing third overall), and the 800 meter record. She was also part of the 4x100 relay team that finished in 6th place at the state meet.


Lakeside High

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Derrick Myers-Head Coach; Taylor Gerlach, boys head coach; Kay Roland; Charles Baer; Antonio Henderson; and Ted Frazzetta.

Kennedy Myers
  • 6A Girls 100 meter hurdles finals, 2nd place, 14.36 (state runner up)
  • 6A Girls 300 meter hurdles finals, 3rd place, 43.13 
  • Kennedy Myers holds two school records
She finished state runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.3 seconds and 3rd in the 300-meter hurdles running 43.1 seconds. Both times are new school records.

Jada Ray

  • 6A Girls 100 meter dash finals, 3rd place, 12.05

Rikki Carver, Sarah Walker, Jada Ray, and Kennedy Myers

  • 6A Girls 4 x 100 meter relay finals, 2nd place, 46.92
  • 6A Girls 4 x 400 meter relay finals, 3rd place, 3:53:86

The girls’ 400 meter relay team with Kennedy, Jada, Rikki Carver, and Sarah Walker finished state runner-up with a time of 46.9 seconds. The same team also placed 3rd place in the 1600-meter relay race with a time of 3:53. 

The Lakeside girls’ track team finished 5th overall in the state. This is the third consecutive year that they have placed in the top eight in the state. This summer, Jada, Rikki, and Kennedy participated in the New Balance National Outdoor Meet in Philadelphia and the Junior Olympic Games in Iowa. 

Georgia High School Association 5A Track and Field State Championship

(Team photo is not available as all participating members being recognized were not in attendance, due to participation in other athletic competitions at the time of the recognition.)

Coaches: Chris Cutler, Head Coach; Julian Brown, Assistant Coach; Contrenia “Trina” Fann, Assistant Coach; John Chaknis, Assistant Coach; George Whitmire, Lay Coach; Paul Moore, Assistant Coach; Donnell Bradley, Assistant Coach. 

Peyton Hanson -  5A Boys Pole Vault Finals, 2nd place, 14:06:00
Ryan McKinney - 5A Boys Pole Vault Finals, 3rd place, 14:00:00

Anetra Graham, Candace Martin, Alexcia Jeter, and Kennedy Mc Donald placed third in the 5A Girls 4 x 200 Meter Relay Finals with a time of 1:41.98

Millie Quick, Allison Sidley, Clara Stewart, and Caleigh Munro placed third in the State 5A Girls 4 x 800 Meter Relay Finals, with a time of 9:54.29


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Thanks to members of the Evans High School JROTC for leading the Pledge of Allegiance. 


Georgia Future Problem Solvers State Bowl

Future Problem-Solving Program International (FPSPI) was founded in 1974 by creativity pioneer, Dr. E. Paul Torrance, at the University of Georgia.  FPSPI promotes a six-step problem-solving process and encourages students to develop a vision of the future. Students demonstrate their critical and creative thinking skills through writing, speaking, and visual documentation. This year, students from Stevens Creek Elementary and North Columbia Elementary competed and placed in the top three in their respective categories.

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Team Presentation of Action Plan, Junior Division
In this competition, a global issues team created a skit to promote the six-step action plan.
First Place
Teacher Advisor: Tara Farr
Team members:

Claire Homlar
Veer Patel
Catherine Tang
Keaton York
Sophia Pang
Tej Patel
Sara Karia

Global Issues Problem-Solving Individual, Junior Division
In this competition, Global Issues Individuals produce a written booklet with work for each step of the 6-step FPS process in response to a short scenario about the State Bowl topic.
Teacher Advisor: Tara Farr

First Place
Sophia Pang
Teacher Advisor: Tara Farr
*Invitations to participate in the Future Problem Solving Program International Conference are given to the first place winners in Scenario Writing, Global Issues Problem Solving Team, and Global Issues Problem Solving Individual.

Second Place
Tej Patel

Third Place
Sara Karia

North Columbia Elementary

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Team Action Plan, Junior Division
This is a separate award for a Global Issues Team’s Step 6 Action Plan. It is judged on the impact of the Plan, the effectiveness of the Plan in solving the Underlying Problem, the thoroughness of the Plan, creativity, and futuristic thinking.

First Place
Teacher Advisor: Janet Bruyninckx
Team Members:
Will Burns
Ari Falk
Emma Pawlak
Layla Phillips

Second Place
Hayes Harper
Jaden Healy
Violet Phillips
Amelia Whiteley

Global Issues Problem-Solving Team, Junior Division
Third Place
Will Burns
Ari Falk
Emma Pawlak
Layla Phillips


Margaret Rodgers Scholarship Winner

Margaret Rodgers was a medical secretary for the VA Hospital in Augusta for nine years before beginning her career as a teacher in the Columbia County School District in 1956. She retired in 1983 as the Associate Superintendent of Instruction for the Columbia County School District. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to an exemplary non-certified employee who is working full-time and currently enrolled in college pursuing a baccalaureate degree or higher. The scholarship was founded by Thomas Rodgers and Dr. Eloise Hancock in honor of their mother. The first Margaret Rodgers Scholarship was given in 2011.

The winner of the 2023 Margaret Rodgers Scholarship Award is Whitney Harrell from River Ridge Elementary.

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River Ridge Elementary Principal Revelle Cox says this about Ms. Harrell: 

"Ms. Harrell has a love for children. She was hesitant to go to college for fear of math. With some encouragement and many promises from our faculty, she agreed to try it. Ms. Harrell is so dedicated that she volunteers for all extracurricular activities and involves herself in the activities of the school. She works so hard for her family and for the school. Her husband has been away at trooper training for months, and she has been a single working mom going to school. She is a joy and a pleasure, and we want teachers like her! She has an amazing work ethic!"


Thank you to the family of Margaret Rodgers for the support and encouragement of the educators in the Columbia County School District! 





National Wrestling Hall of Fame Georgia Chapter Board Member

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Georgia Chapter recently welcomed Donell Bradley as their new board member.  

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Ms. Bradley began her wrestling journey at Radford High School in Honolulu, HI, where she won the first-ever sanctioned girls' state tournament in the nation as part of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) Girls State Wrestling Championships. She has won two consecutive HHSAA Girls Wrestling State Championships.

Ms. Bradley participated in the first USGWA Girls’ National High School tournament. Additionally, she competed at Missouri Valley College in 1999, where she was a four-time All-American and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science.

Ms. Bradley was a resident athlete at the United States Olympic Education Center, and she wrestled on the Senior Women's Beach Wrestling World Team and placed seventh in the World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar 2019.

Ms. Bradley is currently the Head Women’s Wrestling Coach at Greenbrier High School and the Team Georgia National Team Head Women’s Coach.


Spirit of Ruth Patrick Award

The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken is pleased to work with students and teachers across the CSRA and the Columbia County School District. The Center was named after a renowned scientist, Dr. Ruth Patrick, who studied the waterways of Georgia and South Carolina for more than 60 years. She excelled during a time when very few women were leaders in the scientific community. The staff of the Center continues following the pioneering spirit of Dr. Ruth Patrick through many innovative educational programs and activities for the community. The "Spirit of Ruth Patrick Award" is given each year to a teacher who follows this pioneering spirit to inspire others to infuse a love for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The winner of this year's Spirit of Ruth Patrick Award is Ms. Crystal McDowell, from Greenbrier High.

Dr. Gary Senn, Director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center on the USC Aiken campus presented the surprise recognition to Ms. McDowell.  

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2023 Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest
River Ridge Elementary

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Hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the National Garden Clubs, Inc., and sponsored locally by the Spade and Trowel Garden Club, Augusta, this contest is an opportunity for local garden clubs to connect with their communities and may be used to promote their local or State garden club and raise awareness of the importance of caring for the environment and preventing wildfires. The competition is open to students from first through fifth grade. 

Three artists won at the regional garden club level, sponsored by Deep South Garden Clubs, Inc., and each of the students won first place out of six states.

Teacher Advisor: Courtney Owen

Woodsy Owl Poster Contest State winners: 

First Place - Second Grade
Erin Dong

First place - Third grade

Kristeena Kumar

Third place, Third grade

Jules O’Neill 

Smokey Bear Poster Contest State winners

First place, Third grade
Grant Guest 

First place, Fourth grade
Freya Lin

Deep South (6 states) Woodsy Owl Poster Contest winners 

First Place, Second grade 
Erin Dong

First place, Fourth grade
Freya Lin 

Deep South (6 states) Smokey Bear Poster Contest winners

First place, Third grade
Grant Guest 

Woodsy Owl Poster Contest National Winner 
National Garden Clubs, Inc. Convention May 2-May 4

Erin Dong - First Place


CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition

During the CyberPatriot competition in January, students competed in different challenges to earn points for their teams. One of the challenges is the Cisco quiz and simulation of a network. This challenge consists of students implementing security measures on a virtual network. Students from Evans Middle, under the advisement of teacher Beth Comella, student Garren Furtado scored 22 points out of 30, placing first in Georgia and second in the entire competition. Student Sienna Ortiz scored 19 out of 30 placing second in Georgia and sixth in the entire competition of 193 teams.

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Georgia Middle School State Track Championship

Liliana Beemer of Evans Middle School earned a first-place finish at the Georgia Middle School State Track Championship. Lilliana is in her 8th-grade year and is a three-time county champion in the 1600-meter run and a 2-time champion in both the 3200-meter and 800-meter run. She was also the anchor leg for the two-time County Champions Evans Knights’ 4x400m relay team. Additionally, Liliana and her teammates are the two-time consecutive Columbia County champions and they placed second at the 2023 Georgia Middle School State Championships.

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Most recently, at the Georgia State Championships, she placed fourth in the 3200-meter m run, was runner-up in the 1600-meter run and is the current and reigning two-time Georgia Middle School State Champion in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:16 making her currently ranked as the No. 1 middle school 800-meter runner in the nation and in the top 10 nationally for both the 1600-meter and 3200-meter, according to

In addition to athletics, Liliana maintains a 4.0 GPA in all gifted/AP classes at Evans Middle School.


Georgia High School Association Girls Soccer State Championship
Greenbrier High - Second Place

This year’s team is an example of what happens when talent meets hard work. Everyone in the program is extremely dedicated to the success and well-being of the program. The coaches show their dedication through countless hours of strategizing, caring for the girls, and preparing them as best as possible. It’s a wonderful combination of talent and hard work from all sides. Everyone from administrators to the athletic director, and certainly the families can take a bit of the credit for the amazing season these girls had.

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Coaches: Alex Wieczorek, Dallas Dickerson, Wes Kendrick, Riley Maxwell

Team Members:
Sarah Newland
Jayliyah Neff 
Maddie Grover 
Liz Caplan  
Madison Crouch
Maggie Pangle
Emerson Voelp
Ashlyn Sommers
Savannah Koback
Avah McGinley
Ella Cely
Anna Shea Holmes
Makena Rockelmann
Olivia Burden
Natalie Heckathorn
Madelyn Heckathorn
Cameron Southard
Cara Anne Harris
Maddux Dewyea
Abigail Bias
Lilly O’Neal
Presley McDermott
Caroline Cawley
Aaliyah Silver
Ella Davis
Mackenzie Canady
Sophie Campanaro
Briana Grover



Georgia High School Association Esports State Championship
Evans High - Second Place, State Runner Up

The Evans High School E-Sports Mario Kart 8 team finished up their 2023 season as the state runner-ups in second place.  The team, led by Captain Samuel Floyd, entered the post-season as the 24th seed (5-3 in the regular season) and worked their way through the playoff bracket to the finals. The team displayed amazing resiliency through the regular and post-seasons. The Evans High E-Sports Mario Kart Team was one of the select State Runner Up teams chosen to compete for the National Title on June 2, 2023. 

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Advisor: Douglas Hegyi - JROTC Army Instructor and E-Sports Coach
Team Members:
Samuel Floyd, Team Captain
Stella Cully
Alex Marting
Bradley Morris



Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Band 

The Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band is one of the highest musical honors a band student can receive in middle school and high school. To qualify, students must complete two rounds of auditions including a performance of scales, a prepared etude, and sight-reading a piece of music for the first time in front of judges. All-State Band auditions start at the District level. In December, students from 13 counties auditioned at Greenbrier Middle School to complete the first audition. Students who score high enough go to the second audition in early January. The second audition consists of prepared music and sight-reading. 

Across the state, approximately 200 middle school band students out of about 1,000 students who make it to the second audition are selected for the two middle school ensembles.  Across the state, approximately 400 high school band members out of about 7,000 in the state are selected for the All-State Band and Orchestras. 

Students from three middle schools and three high schools participated in auditions and were named members of the GMEA All-State Band for 2023.

Greenbrier Middle
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Advisors: Mr. Kevin Baggott and Mrs. Karen Boyd
Students: Bria Peek and Noah Torabi


Riverside Middle
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Advisors: Geoff Rosche and Erin Dibling
Students: Rigel Kotas, All-State Band member for two consecutive years, and Eli  An Ly


Stallings Island Middle

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Band Director: Tayler Norwood
Students: Stephen Liu, Hanyu Su, and Luke Baker 
All-State Orchestra: Cole Eichenberger


Greenbrier High
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Band Director:  Dr. Brian M Toney
Assistant Band Director: Mr. Herbert Rutledge Boykin
All-State Orchestra: Jordan Evans
All-State Band:
Luke Frain
Mason Pounds
Benjamin Rezendes
Simon Toney

All-State Jazz Band student:
Mason Pounds
Being named to the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Jazz Band is a tremendous honor. It is the most competitive All-State Group we have in Georgia as less than 25 students across the whole state earn a spot. To qualify, students must successfully complete two competitive auditions. In the region-level audition, they must perform multiple solos from a required list, and sight-read a selection after only viewing it for 30 seconds with a recorded backing track. As a Sophomore, Mason Pounds earned the first chair Tenors Saxophone chair and was one of only two tenor saxophones in the state to be in the band.

 Grovetown High 
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Band Director: Robert “Steve” Whitaker
Student:  Sebastian Blizzard

Lakeside High
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Band Directors: Jared Best, Jonathan Witmer
Students: Henry Boyd, Jun Chambers, Peyton Geigle, Ryan Hanling, Kareem Hassan, Brandon Kim, Jeffery Li, Nathan Oester, Dawson Pope, Clark Walker, and Harry Zhou


Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Chorus

Students participating in All-State Chorus must attend two auditions.  At the first audition, they must sing a prepared solo where they perform for two judges and are rated in six categories. They must sing three sight reading examples for two other judges. Approximately 500 spots are available for middle schoolers across the state of Georgia.  Approximately 7,000 students tried out across the state in grades 7th through 12th. Students from four middle schools and one high school were among those selected to participate in the prestigious All-State Chorus.   

If the student has one of the 500 highest scores out of students they are chosen to participate in All-State,  They must then learn their music and have a pop quiz audition. Students audition with two judges. They are given 12 or more measures to sing from each song, but they do not know which measures prior to the audition. Students are graded on pitch and rhythm. If they pass with a score of 75% or better, then they are invited to participate in the All-State group. 

Columbia Middle

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Chorus teacher - Jason Bailey

Amerlin Figueroa
Stephanie Russell
Addison Cole
Joy Dyer

Evans Middle

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Chorus teacher - Wendy Baggott
 Emmi Rykowski

Greenbrier Middle

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Advisors: Kevin Baggott and Karen Boyd
Lindsay Hayes
Kathryn Fagan
Megan Transue
Anna Teague
Hope Burcaw
Isabelle Jones


Riverside Middle

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Chorus Teacher: Erin Dibling
Student: Ashley Renee Swiss

Stallings Island Middle

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Chorus Teacher: Rebekkah Crose
Students: Kashvi Boga, Abigail Johnson, and Ben Teboe

Greenbrier High

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Chorus Director: Steven Hansen
Students: Not pictured due to participation in other competitions 
Skye Boutall, Audrey Cowen, and Jonathan Stonehocker


National Garden Clubs Youth Poetry Competition
Garden Club of Georgia State Winners

Sponsored locally by the Spade & Trowel Garden Club, Augusta, the theme of the 2022-2023 GCG/NGC Youth Poetry Contest was “Seeds, Trees and Bees. . .Oh My!”  Students were encouraged to express and explore their creativity through poetry and embrace their talents through the art of writing.

Student work is solicited at the local level by garden clubs, and scoring is done at the local, district, state, regional and national levels. Students from kindergarten to ninth grade are eligible to compete. 

Student winners from Stevens Creek Elementary were sponsored locally by the Spade and Trowel Garden Club, and selected to compete at the Azalea district level. The students were selected to move on to state competition where they competed against six other districts in the state. First-place winners at the state level can move on to regional, and even national competitions.

Teacher advisors: London Cowart and Rita Spencer
Demery Dykstra - Second grade - Second Place Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. State Winner
Liam LaBarge - Fourth Grade - Second Place Garden Club of Georgia State Winner

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United States Army Educational Outreach Program eCYBERMISSION

eCYBERMISSION is an online STEM competition for 6th to 9th-grade students that promotes teamwork, self-discovery, and the real-life applications of STEM. Students work in teams to choose a problem in their community to explore with science or solve with engineering.  eCybermission is supported by the United States Army Educational Outreach Program. Throughout the competition, students work on team building and interact with STEM professionals while competing for state, regional, and national awards that can be used for future education.

Greenbrier High student Avery Jones and Greenbrier Middle students Kherington Phillips, Mia Riley, and Ava Call have won first place in Georgia, 1st Southeast USA, and been named an eCYBERMISSION National Finalist Team. They will represent Georgia and participate in the 2023 eCYBERMISSION National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE) in Hunt Valley, MD, from June 26th to June 29th, 2023, for a chance to win $40,000 in prize money.  They will now compete against Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, and Utah for the National Championship.

This is Greenbrier Middle School's third trip to the national finals in four years!

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9th Grade First Place State eCybermission and National Finalist Team

Advisor: David Phillips 
Avery Jones-Greenbrier High School
Kherington Phillips-Greenbrier Middle School
Mia Riley-Greenbrier Middle School
Ava Call-Greenbrier Middle School

Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

State Leadership Conference Competition

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a national Career and Technical Student Organization for students in Family and Consumer Sciences in education in public and private schools through twelfth grade. FCCLA offers intra-curricular resources and opportunities for students to pursue careers that support families. Through participation in competitive events, FCCLA members gain employable skills and industry insight needed to thrive in the 21st Century. This year, two Greenbrier high school students were FCCLA State Leadership Conference winners. The team will go on to compete at the national level competition in Denver this summer.

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Greenbrier High

Second Place - Event Management

Brinkley Vaughn and Phoebe Hughes

Advisor - Elizabeth Davis 

Phoebe Hughes and Brinkley Vaughn earned second place in the category of event management, in which participants apply skills used in Family and Consumer Sciences courses to plan an event for an educational institution, community or non-profit organization, business, or government institution.

Phoebe and Brinkley planned a Parents Night Out Event for elementary students with STEAM activities, organized groups and assigned jobs to other FCCLA students that volunteered to help. The event was hosted at Greenbrier High School. They used organizational skills, and presented their overview of the event to a panel of judges at the State Leadership Conference and placed in the top two to qualify for Nationals in Denver this summer.


Georgia High School Association Literary State Championship 2023

The State Literary Championships 2023 were held in March at Warner Robins and Buford High School. Students from three high schools earned top three placements in a variety of competitions.

In Extemporaneous Speaking, students were provided with a selection of topics related to current international issues.  During the competition, each student drew a topic before being escorted to a room in which the student had 30 minutes to prepare a speech in a brief, outline form.  At the end of the preparation time, each student was given seven minutes to deliver the speech.

In the solo event, two selections had to be sung from memory.  Each soloist was allotted eight minutes to perform their selections.

Greenbrier High
Advisor - Steven Hansen

First Place - International Extemporaneous Speaking
Gabriella Zasimczuk

Second Place - Boys Solo

Jonathan Stonehocker


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Grovetown High School

Advisor - Rebecca Todd


Third Place - Extemporaneous Speaking

Emily Soares


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Lakeside High School

Advisors: Stacy Branch, Vicki Horne, and Maureen McCormack

First Place - Literary Interpretation-Solo Humorous

Jack Shaffer


Second Place - Boys Solo

Aidan Eclavea


Second Place - Quartet

Aidan Eclavea

Jack Shaffer

August Bauer

James Williams


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Georgia High School Swim Coaches Association 2022-2023

All-State 1st Team and 2nd Team

The final performances from the Georgia High School Association state swim and dive meet events are combined, and athletes are selected for their highest ranking.  Placing first or second in an event at state puts them on the All-State 1st team. Placing third or fourth puts them on the All-State 2nd team.


Lakeside High School

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Head Coach Christa Burch, Assistant Coaches Donnie Burch and Kelly Peel

Hudson Burch
All-State First Team - Class 6A
200 Yard Freestyle 1:41.53

Nicholas Plantamura
All-State Second Team Class 6A
200 Yard Freestyle, 1:43.32
400 Yard Freestyle Relay, 3:12.36

William Blanchard
All-State Second Team Class 6A
400 Yard Freestyle Relay, 3:12.36
Trevor Price
All-State Second Team Class 6A
400 Yard Freestyle Relay, 3:12.36


Evans High School

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Head Coach Ben Prescott and Assistant Coach Whitney McTier
Greg Gillette, Head Coach, Augusta-Aiken Swim League

Ben Hill
All-State Second Team Class 6A
200 meter IM, 1:59.21



Georgia Department of Education
Georgia Scholars Award

Exemplifying the State of Georgia’s mission of educating the whole child, the Georgia Department of Education established the Georgia Scholar Program. Georgia Scholars are students who have carried exemplary course loads during their four years of high school; performed excellently in all courses; successfully participated in interscholastic events at their schools and in their communities; and have assumed active roles in extracurricular activities sponsored by their schools.  Each student will receive a Georgia Scholar seal from the Georgia Department of Education to place on their diploma.

Columbia County School District Georgia Scholars - 2023
Kennedy Gross, Evans High
Brooklyn Oliver, Greenbrier High
Morgan Gunby, Harlem High
Aditi Umapathy, Lakeside High
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Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)
State Competition

HOSA’s Competitive Events Program brings health careers education to life through rigorous testing of knowledge, performance, skill, and leadership capabilities aimed at developing, encouraging, and recognizing the brightest future health professionals.  HOSA provides a competitive events program as a means of recognizing those students who are willing to pursue excellence by preparing for competition and having the determination to attend a conference and demonstrate the competencies gained through the healthcare science program. 

 Evans High School

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Advisor - Leslie Vandenabeele

Esperanza Lorenzo-Martinez
First Place - Sports Medicine

Priyanshi Kachroo
First Place - Behavioral Health

Megan Story
Third Place - Medical Assisting 


Greenbrier High School

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Instructors - Valeri Cushman, David Capell, and Michelle Meadows

Allison Sidley
First Place - Pharmacy Science

Emma Morse
First Place - Veterinary Science

Maya Nwankwo
Third Place - Physical Therapy

Taylor Hall and Maddie Osterbuhr
Third Place - CERT Skills


Harlem High School

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Acting HOSA Advisor - Jim Hooper

Ashlynn Gambrell, Maycie McGahee, and Emily Pressley
Third Place - Membership Recruitment Poster


Lakeside High School

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Advisors: Lisa Olson, Cedric Mason, and Mamie McRavin

Neo Alemar
Third Place, Dental Terminology


Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE)
Future Georgia Educators State Competition

The goal of Future Georgia Educators is to help identify, recruit, prepare, and retain the next generation of Georgia’s teachers. The knowledge bowl competition required students to demonstrate their familiarity with and understanding of the education pathway and Georgia’s Code of Ethics for Educators. A total of 11 students from Greenbrier High participated in the event and brought home top-three finishes in their respective competitions. 

Students competing in the individual events were asked to deliver impromptu, prepared speeches and essays about current issues in education as well as to prepare a professional cover letter, and a resume, and then attend a mock interview for a position as a classroom teacher. 

Greenbrier High School

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Teacher Advisor:
Amber Bentley

1st Place, State Future Georgia Educators Day Knowledge Bowl
Kaitlyn Carter-Henry
Alyssa Bartlett
Alaina Moore

2nd Place, State FGE Day Knowledge Bowl
Kierra Carlile
Sanah Ashna
Peyton Wombles

1st Place, State FGE Day Prepared Speech Event
Maia Herrera

1st Place, State FGE Day Job Interview Event
Dennis Marchesi

2nd Place, State FGE Day Essay Event
Cecilia Scheyer

3rd Place, State FGE Day Impromptu Speech Event
Sanah Ashna


Scholastic Art and Writing Awards National Silver Medal

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is the nation's longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. To qualify, students submit artwork to be judged at the state level. Leila Hill, a Columbia Virtual Academy student, received a gold key at the state level and then went on to receive a silver medal at the national level. There were less than 2,000 artworks selected from the over 260,000 entries. On Friday, May 5, at the Congressional Art contest for Congressman Rick Allen, Leila won the People’s Choice Award for her artwork titled, “ Little Moments, Big Memories." Congratulations, Leila and advisor, Tiffany Weser.

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SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Medalists

Each year, the SkillsUSA Georgia State Championships recognizes career and technical education students who excel in their occupational areas and spotlights leadership development activities.  It also provides prospective employers with an opportunity to see dedicated, motivated potential employees at work. Hundreds of teams across Georgia compete in a large variety of events in all areas of CTAE. Students from Evans, Greenbrier, and Harlem High Schools participated and earned first, second and third-place prizes in a variety of competitions. 

Evans High School

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Teacher Advisors
Nicolas Bernal, Travis Weathers and Leslie Vandenabeele

1st Place, Automotive/Auto Refinishing
Elizabeth Stupec

1st Place, Automotive/Diesel Equipment Technology
Jason Gaines

1st Place, Allied Health/First Aid/CPR
Esperanza Lorenzo-Martinez
(second consecutive first-place win)

2nd Place, Allied Health/Nursing Assistant
Reilly Thornton

3rd Place, Firefighting

Lucas Justiniano


Greenbrier High School

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Teacher advisor: Howard Morrison

2nd Place, Law and Safety/High Risk Vehicle Stop
Jackson Busby
Riley Moore
Morgan Dabrowski

Harlem High School

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Teacher Advisor: Matthew Murrell

1st Place, Law, and Safety/Job Demonstration
Jocelynne Bourassa

2nd Place, Law, and Safety/First Aid/CPR
Gabriel Moore

3rd Place, Law, and Safety/High-Risk Traffic Stop
Aleksander Helpingstine
Kayla Cloinger
Braxton Gross

Technology Students Association (TSA)
State Conference Winners

The Technology Students Association (TSA) enhances personal development, leadership, and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), whereby members apply and integrate these concepts through intracurricular activities, competitions, and related programs. Students from Harlem High earned top-three finishes in the categories of Structural Design and Engineering, Technology Bowl, and Forensic Science. 
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Teacher Advisor: Eric Rogers

Structural Design and Engineering 
First Place
Mason Cannon and Clayton Doyle
Team members were required to create a structure with detailed specifications and provide a portfolio of their research as well as an orthographic drawing to scale. The top 20 made it to the onsite competition. Mason and Clayton made the semi-finals and had three hours to build another structure with different specifications. Their structure earned them first place in the state competition.  

Technology Bowl
First Place
Gabe Perry, Connor Thompson and Benjamin Werling
Participants in the Technology Bowl demonstrated their knowledge of TSA and concepts addressed in technology content standards by completing an online, objective test and then going on to compete in the head-to-head competition. The team placed 11th in the bracket and went on to place first in the state competition! 

Forensic Science
2nd Place
Jocelynne Bourassa
Yasmin Pless
Participants in the Forensic Science competition took an online test of basic forensic science to qualify for the semifinal round of competition. Semi-finalists examined a mock crime scene and demonstrated their knowledge of forensic science through crime scene analysis, with the findings synthesized in a written analysis. The team placed second in the final competition.  

Young Georgia Authors
State Winner

The Young Georgia Authors (YGA) writing competition encourages students to develop enthusiasm for and expertise in their writing, to provide a context to celebrate their writing successes, and to recognize student achievement in the arts and academics. This prestigious competition has been engaging Georgia students for more than two decades and is open to any student currently enrolled in Georgia public schools, grades K-12.

Harlem High School's Lillian Dye was the state winner for 9th grade for her work titled "Everything I can." Her advisor is Tawana Odom. 

For a complete list of works from all grade-level winners of Young Georgia Authors in the Columbia County School District, including Lillian's piece, CLICK HERE.

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The Georgia Forensics Coaches Association

The Georgia Forensic Coaches Association honors an administrator annually for their commitment to speech and debate in our schools. The award is given every year and voted on by the Executive Committee of the Association.

In the words of the GFCA Director of Operations, Jonathan Waters, “The support that Mr. Baker provided for Grovetown's program from its inception in 2011 until now deserves recognition. Without supportive administrators like him, speech and debate programs would not be able to continue to compete. Through his encouragement and commitment, the program at Grovetown continues to encourage students to remain committed to the activity and allows them to find their own voice.

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Columbia County School District Police Officer of the Year

Officer Dennis Barton - Stevens Creek Elementary

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The inaugural Columbia County School District Police Officer of the Year recognition was awarded Monday, April 24, 2023, to School Resource Officer Dennis Barton, from Stevens Creek Elementary.

The award was created to recognize excellence among our dedicated School Resource Officers district-wide for their dedication to keeping students and staff safe.

The award is based upon the recommendation of the school principal and staff. In addition, examples are provided detailing how the officer has enriched school safety and security, enhanced positive relationships with students and staff, and demonstrated a positive image of the district.

Officer Barton was surprised on Monday, April 24, 2023, with the recognition via a student rally in the cafeteria, before being recognized by the Board of Education the following day.

“I just love coming to work and doing my job,” Officer Barton said after receiving the award. “I can’t believe I would be recognized out of 40 officers. I just try to make it fun for the kids.”

Officer Barton began in law enforcement in 1995, and has served Stevens Creek Elementary since his employment with the district began in 2018. 

Stevens Creek Elementary Principal Grace Meyer called Officer Barton a leader and a role model for her school, the district and the community.

“He is kind and thoughtful to everyone in the building.  However, his positivity extends to our community and across the district,” Meyer said in Barton’s nomination. “Other principals have made a point to tell me they appreciate his diligence and the example he sets when he works specials for them for sporting events. Parents come to me with examples of how he has ensured them that their child is safe and protected here at school.”




Georgia Department of Education - Military Flagship School Award

Columbia Middle

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Georgia's Military Flagship School Award recognizes schools going above and beyond to provide a supportive environment for military students and families. Military Flagship Schools provide specific outreach to military families and recognize and accommodate their unique needs. Schools are chosen through a yearly application process that is open to every school in the state. Applications are reviewed by members of the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission.​

This year, State School Superintendent Richard Woods recognized eight schools across the state as Military Flagship schools.  One of the eight schools recognized was Columbia Middle School.  On April 14th, Superintendent Woods visited Columbia Middle School to personally recognize them for the good job they do helping military students.

At Columbia Middle School, wraparound services are available onsite to meet the needs of the whole child, and a Military Family Life Counselor provides support to military students and families. The school honors military parents, along with staff with a military background, each year on Veterans Day. Parents are provided with numerous volunteer opportunities on campus. Finally, students have the opportunity to participate in CyberPatriot, an educational program created by the Air Force Association. The school’s Cyber Patriot Team competes in area competitions and receives military mentoring.


U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl State Competition Winners

The Department of Energy (DOE) created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. Science Bowl is a buzzer-round competition with questions based on the six categories of mathematics, earth and space, physics, biology, chemistry, and energy. This year, two schools participated and placed in the state competition and earned first-place finishes at the state level.

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Stallings Island Middle

First Place

Ryan Du
Arnav Patel
Grady Riser
Hanyu Su
Steven Zang

Advisory - Deborah Hundt

Second Place

Marcus Levy-Abreu
Stephen Liu
Dev Shetty
Jay Shetty
Hanna Xu
Advisor - Deborah Hundt



 Lakeside High group photo

 A-Team - First Place

Jerry Fan
Jerry Lu
Joshua Moxley
Iziq Thomas
George Zhou
Advisors - John Cato and David Arrington

B-Team - Third Place

Henry Riser
Kunsh Sharma
Charles Timmons
David Wang
Gracelynn Xia
Advisors - John Cato and David Arrington











Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) State Spelling Bee Winner

Sai Lakkimsetti - Stallings Island Middle

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After over 100 words over 20 rounds, 13-year-old Sai Lakkimsetti from Stallings Island Middle emerged as the winner of the 62nd Annual Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) State Spelling Bee.  He, along with the runner-up, will represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in National Harbor, Maryland, May 28-June 2, 2023. 

In the 20th round the runner-up received the word "palmyra" but unfortunately misspelled it.  Sai then was given the word "spumoni" which he spelled correctly. Under the rules for the final two spellers, Sai then had to spell an additional word correctly.  That word was "nyctalopia.”

Sai said he's really excited and grateful for all of his support and to be in this position.

In addition to a first place trophy, and a $1,000 prize from GAE, Sai will also receive an all-expense paid trip to the national championship, an iPad Mini, a Kindle, a one-year subscription to an online dictionary, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, and a GAE Bee Champion lapel pin.



Georgia Association for Middle-Level Education - Regional Liaison

Allie Beldin - Instructional Specialist

Stallings Island Middle School

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The Georgia Association for Middle-Level Education (GAMLE) named Stallings Island Middle Instructional Specialist Allie Beldin as the Regional Liaison. The GAMLE is an affiliate organization of the Association for Middle-Level Education (AMLE). The liaison role includes offering middle-grade teachers a support network through GAMLE, including collaboration events with other middle-level educators, access to resources to help support instruction, and multiple professional development opportunities throughout the year.

"This role is important to me because I have witnessed first-hand how hard middle-level educators work to foster positive student relationships and support student learning," said Regional Liaison Allie Beldin. "By creating a network for middle-level teachers, we can support each other as we continue to make improvements for our students to succeed. Now more than ever, this support system is vital for educators to feel empowered as they navigate teaching in the middle school environment."

Congratulations, Ms. Beldin! 

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E. Paul Torrance Award for Creativity

Emily Harrison 

North Harlem Elementary and River Ridge Elementary Teacher
Emily Harrison was awarded the E. Paul Torrance Award for Creativity. The award is presented to an individual who has advanced the lifelong work of Dr. E. Paul Torrance through scholarly research on creativity, individual creative productivity, or helping in the recognition and development of creative potential in others.  Ms. Harrison now represents Georgia as the Creativity Teacher of the Year!


As the E. Paul Torrance Creativity Award recipient for 2023, Ms. Harrison will be expected to present at the Georgia Association for Gifted Children Conference. 

"Dr. E. Paul Torrance, a Georgia native, was the pioneer in assessing creative thinking, and to be awarded this honor means so much because of the work I do as a Horizons teacher to cultivate creative thinking in all students," said Ms. Harrison. "The award has an extra special place in my heart.  Seven years ago, I witnessed Dawn Jeffers, of Columbia County, receive this award. I have taught with Dawn for many years. We have been working to help the teachers, parents, and students of Columbia County understand how to utilize creative thinking strategies. After all, creativity is the base of real-world problem-solving. It is my passion as an educator to help everyone understand this truth."





Georgia's 12th District Congressional App Challenge Winners


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Three students from Lakeside High School were named winners of the annual Congressional App Challenge, for Georgia's 12th District: Joseph Alackara; Aditi Umapathy; and Amber Verma.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during the annual #HouseOfCode festival.

The group designed and created an app called Timely, which includes tools like a habit tracker to help those with attention deficit disorders more efficiently get tasks done. 

See a video of how the app works, here:



2023 Advanced Placement Honor School

All five high schools in the Columbia County School District were recognized as Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Schools for the 2022-2023 school year by the Georgia Department of photo

The schools were among 273 AP Honor Schools in 97 school districts across the state.

AP exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT, and are one of several ways Georgia students can access college-level learning at the high school level. Students who receive a score of 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam may receive college credit. 

The 2023 AP Honor Schools were named in eight categories based on the results of 2022 AP courses and exams. The Columbia County School District was named an honor school in six out of the eight categories.

AP Honor Schools are as follows:

AP Access and Support School - Schools with at least 30% of AP exams taken by students who identified as African American and/or Hispanic and 30% of all AP exams earning scores of 3 or higher: Grovetown High School

AP Humanities School - Schools with a minimum of five students tested in each of the following AP categories: one ELA course, two history/social science courses, one fine arts course, and one world language course. Evans High; Greenbrier High; Grovetown High; and Lakeside High

AP Humanities Achievement Schools - AP Humanities schools with at least 50% of all AP Humanities exams earning scores of 3 or higher. Evans High; Greenbrier High; and Lakeside High.

AP Schools of Distinction - Schools with at least 20% of the total student population taking AP exams and at least 50% of all AP exams earning scores of 3 or higher. Evans High; Greenbrier High; and Lakeside High

AP STEM School - Schools with a minimum of five students testing in at least four AP STEM courses. (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles) Evans High; Greenbrier High; Grovetown High; Harlem High; and Lakeside High

AP STEM Achievement School - AP STEM schools with at least 50% of all AP STEM exams earning scores of 3 or higher. Greenbrier High; Grovetown High; and Lakeside High 

CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition Winners


Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside High School students along with students from Stallings Island and Greenbrier Middle schools represented the Columbia County School District at the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

This annual event puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly-hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Through a series of online competition rounds, teams are given a set of operating systems and are charged with finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services all within a six hour time limit. 

Teams form in August and competition rounds are held monthly, beginning in October and ending in January. These students competed against more than 2,800 Open Division teams and more than 860 Middle School Division teams from across the U.S. to earn a top placement in their state, region, and in the nation.

Evans High School

Meredith Phipps, National 1st Place Winner for Cisco Networking Score
Meredith Phipps - EHS
Cisco is a leading manufacturer of Internet protocol (IP)-based networking products and services. Their partnership with CyberPatriot began in 2012. One of the many challenges students face in the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Competition is to design and administrate a complex network system in a virtual environment based on Cisco-manufactured equipment like routers, switches, and security appliances. Students have six hours to troubleshoot a network framework and correct any security or configuration problems that exist. While these problems are simulations, they are based on real-world designs and architectures and require professional-level competence to troubleshoot. This is the challenge that Evans High School freshman Meredith Phipps took on. In the final round of competition, Meredith’s score was the highest among all teams in the Gold Tier making her first in the nation during the Semi-Final round.


Evans Cyber Knights 1

3rd Place in the State Round - Platinum Tier

Advisor, Steven Hahn

Mentor, Thomas Wilburn

Zander Conner

Hannah Kim

Hunter Rawlins

Ben Smith

Velmuel Smith








Evans Cyber Knights 4

3rd Place in the National Round - Gold-Tier Winners

3rd Place in the State Round - Platinum Tier

Advisor, Steven Hahn

Mentor, Thomas Wilburn

Sam Hobbs

Aysha Hughes

Meredith Phipps

Alexis Bussey

Layaya Jones






Evans Cyber Knights 5

7th Place in the National Round - Silver Tier

2nd Place in the State Round - Silver Tier

Advisor, Steven Hahn

Conner Grove

Taj Henschke

Jeffery Frazier

Adam Marting

Mitchell Wilburn







Greenbrier High School

CyberPatriot GBH


1st Place in the State Round - Platinum Tier

Advisor, Ty Abero

Mentor, Eric Davis

Leland Green

Taige Wang

Max Jaremski

Michael Cobb

Jacob Braddock

Josh Brown

The Phishermen team is the only CyberPatriot Team that is a 3-time state placer!





Lakeside High School

CyberPatriot LHS


1st Place in the State Round - Platinum Tier

Advisor, Mary Davis

Mentor, Philip Plantamura

Nick Williams

Chris Cardullo

Suhaila Rashid

Luke Wiggins

Hayden Fedak

Adam Doick






Greenbrier Middle School

pickled bananas


Pickled Bananas

1st Place in the State Round - Middle School

Advisor, Loradonna Shultz

Katelyn Dietert

Jonathan Mikell

Lillian Padgett

Carter Stone

Conner Valentine

Ryan Youmans






Stallings Island Middle School


ethical hackers


C3RT!F!3D 3TH!C@L H@CK3R$ (Certified Ethical Hackers)

2nd Place in the State Round - Middle School

Advisor, Matt Brooks

Dev Shetty

Vinh Pham

Aarav Gupta

Hisham Rashid

Jay Shetty









The E-Lemon-Ators

3rd Place in the State Round - Middle School

Advisor, Matt Brooks

Marcus Levy-Abreu

Mingzhe Zhang

Sai Lakkimsetti

Stephen Liu

Hendrick Scholer

Hanyu Su







Georgia High School Association Swimming and Diving State Championships


The 2023 GHSA Swimming and Diving State Championships were held Jan. 31 - Feb. 4 at the Georgia Tech McAuley Aquatic Center and Westminster High School in Atlanta. Three students from Columbia County high schools brought home great awards.


Samuel Weinstein, Greenbrier High School

1st Place - 5A State Diving Championship

3rd Place Overall - 4-5A State Diving Championship

Coach: Kristen Schlegel

Sam qualified at our local meet at AAC. Once he qualified, he went to Westminster High School in Atlanta to compete in the 4-5A State Diving meet. His score placed him 3rd overall in the 4-5A Division, and 1st in 5A. This is Sam's first year diving, so this is a stellar accomplishment!



Ben Hill, Evans High School

3rd Place - 200 IM

6A State Swimming Championship

Coaches: Ben Prescott, Whitney McTier, and Greg Gillette

Ben Hill EHS


Qualifying for the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state meet is an honor in and of itself. It is an even bigger honor to place in the top three in any event. To qualify for the 200 meter IM, you must swim the race in under 2:12:00. Ben qualified for the event with a 2:00:89. At Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, Ben advanced to finals as the eighth seeded swimmer out of 20. He went on to a third place finish with an improved time of 1:59:21 in the finals. This places Ben as one of the best swimmers in his event in the entire state of Georgia!












Hudson Burch, Lakeside High School

2nd Place - Boys 200 Freestyle Event

6A State Swimming Championship

Coaches: Christa Burch, Donnie Burch, and Kelly Peel
Hudson Burch LHS


During the season, Hudson Burch qualified in all 11 events, eight individual and three relays. However, at the State Meet, athletes can only participate in a total of four events. Hudson chose to swim in two individual events, the 200 Freestyle and the 100 Freestyle, and on two relay teams, the 200 Free Relay and the 400 Free Relay.

At the State Championship Meet, swimmers first compete in a prelims session and must finish top 20 in their event in order to return for the finals session. At prelims in the 200 Freestyle event, Hudson swam a 1:42:45 and this time seeded him in second going into the finals session. At finals, Hudson had an improved time of almost a second in the 200 Freestyle event, earning him the Silver Medal and 2nd Place with a podium showing.

In the 100 Freestyle event, with less than a one-second difference between 1st and 5th place, Hudson finished 5th and his 400 Free Relay team finished 4th with a .01 time difference between 2nd and 4th place.

Lakeside High had 13 Swimmers qualify for the 6A State Championship Meet.





Georgia High School Association Girl's Wrestling Dual State Championships


Greenbrier High School earned 3rd Place in the Georgia High School Association's (GHSA) first ever Girl's Dual State Championships in wrestling. The student athletes defeated Burke County to win the Girls Region One Championship. Greenbrier then moved on to the state preliminary round where they were once again victorious and advanced to the "Elite 8," making history as one of the first teams to ever compete in the state dual.

Although the team experience a tough first round, they displayed great perseverance and rallied together to come back with three consecutive wins, including a big win against the No. 1 seed to advance to the consolation finals where they defeated Gilmer High and earned a 3rd Place finish.

While the state tournament has concluded, many of the members of the girl's wrestling team will continue to pursue competition on the national stage as they strive to compete this summer as part of the Team Georgia Girl's National Team. Congratulations to all these athletes and coaches for an incredible season.

GHS Girls Wrestling


Greenbrier High Girl's Wrestling Team:

  • Arieana Bacon
  • Lyric Drumgoole
  • Jordan Epstein
  • Damaris Gilbert
  • Kaylynn Hottenrott
  • Esperanza Huitron
  • Ryan Lewis
  • Alana Lopez
  • Madison Luke
  • Liz Martinez-Antonetty
  • Jayde Massa
  • Khatlyn Means
  • Phoebe Melvin
  • Miracle Moore
  • Mya Pilger
  • Abigail Sekajipo
  • Stella Stancoven
  • Jade Stephens
  • Sierra Williamson

Head Coach: Donell Bradley

Assistant Coaches: Tyrone Abero and Aaron Epstein




Georgia High School Association Girl's and Boy's Wrestling Traditional State Tournaments


In the traditional wrestling competitions, athletes compete individually against opponents in their weight class. The top 12 wrestlers in the state battle for the championship, and the top 6 receive state placement medals. Two Greenbrier High and two Grovetown High students placed top three in this tournament.


Greenbrier High School


Wrestling GHS

Arieana "Arie" Bacon and Cris Martinez, supported by their coaches Tyrone Abero, Aaron Epstein, Derek Pollard, and Ryan McDermott, both placed 3rd in their respective state championships.

Arie battled through an incredibly tough field at 140 lbs. to win 3rd Place. She is the only 3-time state placer in Greenbrier High School history. Arie is also a 2-time Fargo (National) Qualifier for Team Georgia.

Cris also overcame a particularly challenging field at 145 lbs. and brought home the 3rd Place medal. He is one of only three men that are 2-time state placers in school history. Cris is also a 2-time Fargo Qualifier for Team Georgia.



Grovetown High School


GTHS Wrestling


Grovetown junior, Gabby Phillips, and Grovetown senior, Marquis Moss, both brought home top 3 awards from their respective wrestling tournaments, under the guidance and with the support of Bruce Zuehlke, Everett McDaniel, Clarence Reeves.

Gabby Phillips had an incredible season and finished with a 29-5 record. Gabby is the first Grovetown female wrestler to hold the title of Area Champion, Seasonal Champion, and to receive a medal at the GHSA State Championship. She became only the second overall Grovetown wrestler to make it to the state championship match where she placed 2nd in the state in her weight class, 155 lbs.

Marquis Moss began the season unranked in the state, but by January he was ranked as the #1 Heavyweight in Class 6-A. He is a two-time region champion and the third male wrestler from Grovetown High School to be a sectional champion. Most recently, Marquis finished 3rd in the GHSA State Championship in his weight class. He finished the season with a record of 40-2 and had 69 wins in just two years of wrestling.



Leila Hill, 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards


Leila Hill, a senior at Columbia Virtual Academy and advised by CVA art teacher Tiffany Weser, received the Gold Key for Art in the competition in two categories: art and writing.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are a prestigious online competition with state and national level award winners. The highest award at the state level is a Gold Key. All artwork of Gold Key winners goes on to the national level for judging.

Leila Hill earned the prestigious Gold Key for two pieces of artwork this year: "Papa" in the photography category and "Garden Trash" in the expanded projects category. Her work has been submitted to the national competition and awards will be presented later in March.



Georgia Art Educators Association (GAEA) Youth Art Month Flag 2023


GAEA Youth Art Month Flag

Three talented Columbia County High School students had the opportunity to compete against many other K-12 students from across the state to create and submit artwork based on this year's theme, "Your Art, Your Voice."

  • Lola Lu of Harlem High, advised by Colleen Beyer

  • Olivia Boehnlein of Lakeside High, advised by Gail Peake

  • Leila Hill of Columbia Virtual Academy, advised by Tiffany Weser

These students' winning designs will be represented on the state GAEA flag in recognition of Youth Art Month. The flag will be displayed in the state flag room at the National Art Education Association Annual National Convention in San Antonio, Texas in April.



Aspiring Principals' Cohort Participants


In 2019, the Columbia County School District established the CCSD Leadership Development Program in an effort to recruit, employ, develop, and retain quality leaders in our district.

aspiring principals

This year's Aspiring Principals Academy participants:

  • Michelle Bush-Miller, Greenbrier Elementary

  • Brian Killips, Evans High

  • Ashley Prince, Harlem High

  • Whitney Smith, North Harlem Elementary

  • Angela McDaniel, Lewiston Elementary

  • Philip Johnson, Lakeside High

  • Shawn Odom, Riverside Middle

  • Andrew Young, Grovetown High

These leaders were active participants in this year's Aspiring Principals Academy designed to strengthen their leadership skills and to improve student achievement. They were challenged with real-life scenarios that principals face and had to work collaboratively to analyze the various situations, apply lessons learned throughout the course, and ultimately solve the problems presented. The academy culminated last month with these leaders successfully presenting their final project to all members of our executive council.



Student Leaders Leading the Pledge of Allegiance

LES Pledge
Thank you, students leaders, for leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the March 14th Board Meeting! These student leaders are from Lewiston Elementary.

Outstanding School Nutrition Program Administrative Review


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Congratulations, to the Columbia County School District Nutrition Program, for completing a successful Administrative Review by the Georgia Department of Education!

The United States Department of Agriculture regulations require that the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program conducts an Administrative Review of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs in participating districts every five years.

The Columbia County School District School Nutrition Program was selected for an Administrative Review this school year, which includes an in-depth assessment of the School Nutrition Program operations at the district level and at the school level. A few program areas included in the review were: the accuracy of Free and Reduced meal eligibility certification, the accuracy of meal counting and claiming for federal reimbursement, compliance with the meal pattern and nutritional quality requirements, financial management, professional standards and training, food safety, and much more. These are just some of the aspects of the program the nutrition program's staff are responsible for overseeing every day at a District level.

Four schools were selected for on-site visits by the Georgia Department of Education. Selected schools include the following:

Euchee Creek Elementary - Nutrition Manager Jeanette Newman
Lakeside High -  Nutrition Manager Teresa Bethel, and Assistant Nutrition Manager Pam Davis
Martinez Elementary - Nutrition Manager Shannon Vakoc 
Parkway Elementary - Nutrition Manager Faye Darnell 


While onsite at each school, the reviewers observed breakfast and lunch service, as well as afterschool snack service for compliance with program requirements.


Thank you to everyone who works in the kitchens and cafeterias every day across this great school district, for your outstanding work and dedication to feeding the students of this county and for making the District’s school nutrition program a success.


Dana Smith - Director
Lauren Belcher - Coordinator
Kristi Weaver - Executive Secretary
Jackie Singleton - Accountant
Ginny Gamlen - Accounts Payable/Procurement Specialist
Tami Boyer - Support Manager
Linda Landry - Support Manager


 Deputy J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation Donation

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The members of the Deputy J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation donated $7,800 to Columbia County School District Police to purchase of custom-fitted armored vests for  School Resource Officers.

Pending approval of a grant applied for by CCSD Police Chief Gary Owens and his staff, the department will be able to receive an additional vest at no cost for each vest that is purchased through the foundation’s generous donation.

The Deputy J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation was formed in memory of fallen motorcycle police officer J.D. Paugh, who lost his life in the line of duty in 2011.

Paugh was well known in the local motorcycle community, and the foundation regularly holds memorial motorcycle rides in his honor to raise funds used to purchase items of necessity for law enforcement agencies, such as radios, cages for K9 officers, and more.

This donation is the foundation’s first to the Columbia County Board of Education.


Georgia 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award Winner
Billy Wilkes

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Mr. Billy Wilkes is a school bus driver for the Columbia County School District. He began volunteering with 4-H student programs 22 years ago. At the Georgia 4-H Fall Forum in December, Mr. Wilkes was named the Georgia 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer, the highest volunteer award offered from Georgia 4-H. 

The Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award is given to an individual who has served 10 or more years as a 4-H volunteer.  Applications include a nomination letter and personal statements from people the nominee has impacted. Mr. Wilkes is one of two nominated to advance to the National 4-H Salute to Excellence competition which will take place later this year.

Mr. Wilkes has had an impact on many students from Columbia County and around the state. Some students have gone on to become 4-H camp counselors, environmental educators, state staff, and even 4-H agents.



International Thespian Honor Society, Georgia Chapter, State Officer
Brandon Worth - Evans High

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Brandon Worth of Evans High was selected to be the 2023-2024 State Thespian Officer for the Georgia Chapter of the International Thespian Honor Society (ITS). 

The ITS is the only theatre honor society for middle and high school students in the United States. Affiliation brings credibility and distinction to students, theatre programs, and schools. Each student is honored on a national level, gains access to opportunities and resources beyond those of their school. 

 All schools recommend many candidates for this top honor. LeadCon 1 and LeadCon 2 conferences were held in Warner Robins, GA at Houston County High School.  The first selection at the Leadcon conference was narrowed down to 50 students in September 2022. Another LeadCon conference was held in January 2023 and narrowed down to nine students. 

This past weekend, Brandon participated in the 2023 Georgia Thespian Conference where he worked as a Junior Thespian Officer to prepare for the Georgia Thespian Conference, which is a three-day conference located in Columbus, GA, in which thousands of GA thespians - students and teachers - may attend a wide variety of workshops taught by theatre professionals from around the country. The conference also gives participants the chance to view other schools' performances selected from the GHSA One-Act Competition. Currently, Brandon is featured in leading and supporting roles in Choral and Theatrical activities at Evans High as well as an Officer for the Choral and Theatrical program. 


Macy's Great American Marching Band
Nathan Vasquez - Grovetown High

students and teachers smiling

The Macy’s Great American Marching Band is a select group comprised of some of the finest high school marching band students from across the United States. Each year students interested in participating in this band submit to an arduous application process. Submissions are reviewed by a panel of prestigious high school and college band directors from across the nation and students are selected based on their individual performance abilities. Nathan is an outstanding musician that has dedicated himself to higher levels of achievement and this is one of several musical honors that he has achieved. 

Nathan was one of three students representing the state of Georgia, and the only student from the Columbia County School District and the region selected to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Nathan is very thankful for his band director Mr. Whitaker.  He credits him for saving his passion for music and discovering the meaning of never giving up and improving in the face of adversity.



Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) - Music Technology Student Showcase Winners
Will Powell Jr. - Grovetown High
Michael McCombs - Grovetown High
Johnathan Stonehocker - Greenbrier High

Three students were recently recognized as state-level winners for the GMEA Student showcase.

Each year, GMEA sponsors and carries out an annual digital composition competition for the purpose of encouraging students who have an interest in, and an aptitude for, the writing of original digital music. Entries are judged on four criteria: Musical Content, Creativity, Technical Proficiency, and Realization of Process, and awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze certificates in each division and category. Top entries at the State level in each division and category had their works presented during the GMEA Showcase in Athens, GA, on January 27, 2023. Students who are selected for best-in-show, receive a 1-year free professional subscription to, an online editing software/platform. 

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Willy Powell Jr. and Michael McCombs, of Grovetown High, with advisor Mary Angel Cleary, and Johnathan Stonehocker of Greenbrier High with advisor Stephen Hansen, were recognized for their winning compositions at the GMEA Music Technology Student Showcase. Greenbrier High Principal Chip Fulmer standing in for Stephen Hansen. 

Willy Powell, Jr. is a junior at Grovetown High School, and Michael McCombs is a senior at Grovetown High, under advisor Mary Angel Cleary. Both Willy and Michael had compositions selected for the GMEA Music Educator's Conference, where the winning compositions were played for professional producers and a live audience at Tweed Recording Studio. This is a state-level honor, for which Willy and Michael competed against students across the state of Georgia. Submissions were taken from students enrolled in a music technology class who created an original or derivative song using music editing software. Submissions are reviewed by a diverse panel of college professionals and industry professionals, one of which is a Grammy Award Winning judge. For a song to make the selection panel, it must average in the top ten percent of scores.

Willy Powell - 4PF: To listen, Click Here. 
Willy Powell - Mahusiano: To listen, Click Here.
Michael McCombs - Abstract Nature: To listen, Click Here.

Johnathan Stonehocker is a senior at Greenbrier High School. Johnathan was awarded the top prize in the digital music competition. For winning, Johnathan will receive a three-hour recording session at a recording studio and a $500 piece of music equipment of his choosing. Johnathan has been writing music for over eight years and has been competing in music competitions all around the state. He has released his own self-produced album, "Disarray". Johnathan plans to pursue a career in songwriting and music production at Berklee college of music on a partial scholarship. Johnathan’s teacher is Stephen Hansen.  


Georgia High School Football Daily All-State Football Team

Georgia High School Football Daily is an e-newsletter published weekdays from August through December. Founded in 2009, it has more than 23,000 subscribers. 

The Georgia High School Football Daily All-State Football Team is also The Atlanta Journal-Constitution all-state team. The team is chosen through nominations from coaches statewide.  They also take into consideration all-region teams.


Region 3 - AAA Player of the Year
Matthew Williams - Harlem High
Coach Mark Boiter

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Matthew Williams was unanimously voted player of the year in Region 3-AAA by the region’s coaches. That’s a rare honor for a lineman. Player of the Year awards almost always go to quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers. Matthew allowed zero sacks as an offensive lineman and was described as “a dominant run blocker.” His team averaged 30 points per game and put up more than 2,000 yards rushing and 1,500 passing. On defense, he had six tackles for losses and a sack and blocked two field goal attempts. Matthew has signed to play football for Georgia Southern University.  

AAAAAA First Team Kicker
Will Hattaway - Lakeside High
Coach Mark Boiter

students teachers smiling

Will Hattaway Made nine of ten field-goal attempts and put 21 of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Hattaway is ranked the No. 24 place-kicker nationally by Kohl’s Kicking. Will has been named to the AAAAAA GHSF Daily first team as a kicker. Will Hattaway is the only football player in Columbia County to receive this prestigious award. In addition to his First Team All-State recognition, Will was named to the First Team All-Region and First Team All-Area. Will was also named the Georgia varsity top punter for field goal percentage in 6A (6th in the state for all qualifications) by MaxPreps and received a five-star rating from Kohl’s Kicking Academy. He was also a member of Team Georgia for the 2022-2023 Border Bowl.

In addition to being a top athlete, Will has maintained a 4.0 GPA during his high school career and will sign a national letter of intent to play for the back-to-back national champions Georgia Bulldogs in the Fall. 


SRP Federal Credit Union Donation

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In 2018, SRP Federal Credit Union launched the Affinity High School Debit Card program with all Columbia County high schools. 

This program was designed to be able to provide an additional funding resource for local high schools. Each high school worked with SRP to develop a co-branded debit card design that is unique to each school and are displayed on the slide before you. Each time a SRP customer makes a transaction with their school-branded debit card, SRP makes a monetary donation to that school.

Thank you, SRP Federal Credit Union, for supporting public education in Columbia County. 

 2022 Education Youth Art Month Digital Report Award

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This year two Columbia County School District art teachers were selected by The Council for Art Education for this award.

Gail Peake from Lakeside High, and Tiffany Weser from the Columbia Virtual Academy serve as the state coordinators for Youth Art Month (as known as YAM).

Each year, The YAM coordinators from each state compile a digital report of data and images from all the events, programs, shows and other related activities for the year. The information is collected from art teachers from across the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education Art coordinator. The information was gathered for the Georgia digital report presentation and sent to the Council for Arts Education for judging where the state presentation was selected by the council for special recognition.

As the state coordinators for YAM, Ms. Peake and Ms. Weser will represent Georgia at the National Art Educators Convention awards ceremony to be held in San Antonio, Texas in April.  Ms. Peake and Ms. Weser will also be presenting a session at the national conference about their collaboration between the virtual art program at Columbia Virtual Academy and the in-person art program at Lakeside High School.


Georgia Middle School State Cross Country Champions

Two Columbia County Schools were represented in the Georgia Middle School State Cross Co untry meet, held in Cochran, GA, in October 2022.
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Riverside Middle’s Kadence Thomas ran the two-mile run in an impressive 13 minutes, 40 seconds, and 41 milliseconds. Her performance earned her a second-place overall finish in the girl’s division at the Georgia Middle School State Cross Country Division 2 Championship. Kadence is coached by Barbara Petty.

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The Riverside Middle School Boys Cross Country Club took second place overall in the Boys Division. Prior to competing at the state championship, the team placed first in three previous meets. Team members and parent and community coaches, include the following: Corbin DeVries, Ian Hout, Rigel Kotas, Ty Martin, Devon McLoughlin, Miles Negro, Rylan Pettit, Aiden Pullum, Colin Ritz, Benny Stewart, RJ Thomas, Vance Walter, Bryan Dent - Parent Coach, Fran Martin - Parent Coach, Stacie Pettit - Parent Coach, Hunter Martin - Community Coach, and Barbara Petty - faculty sponsor.

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Evans Middle School’s Cross Country Girls took third place in the state out of 13 teams and 107 runners in the Girls Division 3 event. Team members and coach include the following: Monica Adee - Coach; Leliana Beemer, Estella Deal, Anastasia Hewitt, Paislea Jarrett, Alexis Lewis, Kylee McGowan, and Victoria Mellnick.

In addition to the team’s third-place finish Lilianna Beemer earned medals in the six races she competed in, along with first place in four of them. She finished the season at the state competition with another first-place win, and a personal record by running the two-mile run in 12 minutes, 24 seconds, and 91 milliseconds.   


Harlem Attic Treasures $50,000 School Donations

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Recently, Harlem Attic Treasures donated $50,000 to local schools in the Columbia County School District. Harlem High, Harlem Middle, North Harlem Elementary, Euchee Creek Elementary, and North Columbia Elementary received $10,000 each.

The donation was the result of profits received from sales at the local Harlem thrift store. For the past 14 years, Harlem Attic Treasures has worked to meet the needs of people in the community, including students and their families in the Columbia County School District.  In the Spring, Attic Treasures celebrated a huge milestone-donating a total of 1 million dollars to date to local schools and other nonprofits and organizations in the area. Store profits are also used to provide several college scholarship opportunities for local graduating seniors.

The Columbia County School District is grateful for Partners in Education like Harlem Attic Treasures and their dedication to public education in Columbia County.


State Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council

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Grovetown Elementary parent Julie Savina was selected to represent the Columbia County School District as a member of the Georgia Department of Education Superintendent's Parent Advisory Council.

Mrs. Savina is a mother of four Columbia County students who attend all levels of Grovetown Schools to include a fourth grader at Grovetown Elementary, seventh-grader twins at Grovetown Middle, and a sophomore at Grovetown High. Mrs. Savina volunteers weekly at Grovetown Elementary and is always willing to help in any way possible. She says she has enjoyed volunteering with the schools since her family moved to the area three years ago for her husband’s job at John Deere. 

With a background in teaching for six years prior to having children, Mrs. Savina says she is also planning to bring to the table what she has learned with navigating schedules for four children at three different schools, including sports and extracurricular activities, among other important educational topics.

Members of the council will meet three times this year with State School Superintendent Richard Woods to discuss education issues in Georgia, with a primary focus on increasing parent and family engagement to ensure student success, as well as to provide input on new policies, projects, and materials that impact students and their families. Members will then bring back the information learn, serving as advisors and ambassadors in their respective communities.  

Scholastic Art and Writing Award National Gold Medal Winner

Leila Hill - Columbia Virtual Academy

Last March, Leila Hill was recognized for being selected as a gold key winner at the state level for her drawing “The Heart of a Papa.”

On June 9, 2022, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Ceremony was held at Carnegie Hall in New York. National Gold Medal winners were invited to the awards ceremony with guest speakers and highlight reels of each winner's artwork and writing samples. During the ceremony, the Art gold medal winners were recognized as a group.

Lelia is such a talented artist who in 2021, won the Congressional Art Award for Senator Rick Allen. Leila’s awarded piece was featured in Congressman Allen’s office in Washington DC for a year. Leila has also submitted a portfolio for the 100th anniversary of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)/Scholastic Art competition in hopes of winning another gold medal and a scholarship to SCAD.



Georgia Cheerleading Coaches Association Cheerleader of the Year

Caroline Hilley - Lakeside High

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Coaches nominate their outstanding senior athletes, who then go through an application process, which is scored on the student’s academic achievements, community service, school activities, and passion for the sport of cheerleading.


From the application, the top 30 athletes are selected for their division. Caroline Hilley was one of 30 selected from regions 5A- 7A. She and other selected athletes in each division went on to compete in both an interview and performance competition. The pool was narrowed down to the top 16 athletes in each division, who were named to the GCCA All-State Team and received a scholarship. The overall highest score in each division is named the GCCA Cheerleader of the Year for their respective division.

Caroline was the overall winner for regions 5A-7A.


Georgia Department of Education Title I Distinguished School
Martinez Elementary

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 Martinez Elementary has been named a 2021-2022 Title I Distinguished School.

This designation recognizes the highest-performing Title I schools in Georgia, and Martinez Elementary is one of only 71 schools to earn the recognition this year.

The Distinguished Schools designation recognizes Title I schools that ranked in the top five percent based on combined English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Achievement Rate scores from FY2021 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) Content Mastery data. While a full CCRPI report was not available in 2021 due to data limitations resulting from the pandemic and an associated federal waiver, Content Mastery data was available since students took state assessments in 2021.

Schools must be Title I to be eligible for the Distinguished School designation and must not currently be identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) or Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI).





Georgia Council Teachers of Mathematics Award Winners

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Teacher of Excellence in Secondary Mathematics

Stefanie Frey, Greenbrier High

This award is given to a teacher who is a member of GCTM; has taught mathematics at least three years in Georgia; has strong content foundation in mathematics appropriate for their teaching level; shows evidence ­of growth in teaching of mathematics, and shows evidence of professional involvement in Georgia Council Teacher Mathematics and National Counsel Teacher Mathematics, and who has not received the Excellence in Teaching Mathematics award the past five years. Congratulations, Ms. Frey.







Dwight Love Award

Taylor Thompson, Evans High

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This award is presented to a teacher in Georgia who models excellence in the profession and in life; gives much to others beyond the classroom as mentor, teacher, and leader; is a member of Georgia Council Teacher of Mathematics; is a master teacher; is professionally active; and promotes GCTM and its mission.




4-H Presidents - Blue Ridge Elementary 

Thanks to our 4-H Presidents from Blue Ridge Elementary for leading the Pledge at the Board of Education meeting. Great job, student leaders!

State School Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council

Two Lakeside High School students, Hudson Burch, a junior, and Millie Jane Mobley, a senior, were selected for the prestigious honor of serving on the State School Superintendent's Advisory Council for the 2022-2023 academic year. Only 67 students from the state were selected to serve on the council. It is rare for a student to be selected to represent a school district, but to have two is exceptional, particularly with both representing the same school.
The State School Superintendent's Student Advisory Council is a group of students in grades 10-12 who discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Georgia. Members meet throughout the school year with State Superintendent Richard Woods and serve advisors who act as liaisons between the Department of Education and the students of Georgia.
Hudson and Millie Jane will travel to Atlanta four times this school year to meet with Superintendent Woods at the Georgia Department of Education. As members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, Hudson and Millie Jane will serve as ambassadors for Lakeside High, provide feedback on how state policies impact students in the classroom, discuss other education-related issues, and participate in service projects to benefit Georgia schools and students.


State Student Advisory Council



Georgia Association of Middle School Principals Awards

Two Columbia County School District school leaders were recently recognized for their leadership and service by the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals (GAMSP). GAMSP is the organization of and state voice for middle grades school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders in Georgia.

Jerry Davis Georgia Distinguished Principal Award
Dr. Holly Barnes
Dr. Holly Barnes, Principal - Columbia Middle
Dr. Holly Barnes received The Jerry Davis Georgia Distinguished Principal Award from the GAMSP in recognition of her outstanding leadership and service to middle school students. The award was established in 2011 to honor outstanding middle school principals in Georgia.
Dr. Barnes is one of four principals in the state selected by a committee of peers from the association. She was honored at the annual GAMSP Fall Conference that was held in October. 






Hal Beaver Outstanding Assistant Principal Award
Blake Stitcher, Assistant Principal at Harlem Middle
Blake Stitcher
Blake Stitcher received the Hal Beaver Outstanding Assistant Principal Award from the GAMSP at the Fall Conference. This award is presented to an assistant principal in Georgia who has demonstrated strong leadership in guiding his or her school as an effective middle school as defined by state and national standards.
Mr. Stitcher was selected by a committee of GAMSP peers as one of the three recipients from the state for his leadership and service to middle school students.













4-H Presidents - Riverside Elementary




Thanks to our 4-H Presidents from Riverside Elementary for leading the Pledge at the Board of Education meeting. Great job, student leaders!


The Augusta Chronicle Cyber City's Best Public School Winner 2022 

North Columbia Elementary

North Columbia Elementary was named the Best Public School by the August Chronicle’s Cyber City's Best Awards 2022. The contest receives nominations and then allows the public to vote on “the best” representative in each category. The Official Community Choice Awards is a one-of-a-kind contest where locals choose the best businesses and services in their city or town.

Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School 2022

North Columbia Elementary

On Friday, September 16, 2022, North Columbia Elementary School was announced a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School. The U.S. Department of Education began the National Blue Ribbon Schools program in 1982. The program seeks out and celebrates great American schools that demonstrate that all students can achieve high levels. It recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools in two performance categories: Exemplary High Performing Schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.
North Columbia Elementary was recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School and is one of only 297 schools nationwide, and only one of six schools in Georgia, selected this year.
The process began back in February when North Columbia Elementary was notified that they had been nominated by the Georgia Department of Education as a candidate for the national award. Each school that is selected, both public and private, are invited to submit an application. Principal Tonya Gambrell and a team of teacher-leaders worked diligently to submit the application.
Ms. Gambrell and Tiffany Eargle, a fourth grade ELA teacher at North Columbia Elementary, will represent the school at the National Blue Ribbon Recognition Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 3-4, 2022.
The coveted National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

GHSA Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award 2021-2022

Harlem High

HHS Sportsmanship award

The Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award program was
 introduced in 2006 to reinforce GHSA’s philosophy which states: “Student athletes, coaches, spectators and all others associated with high school activities should adhere to the fundamental values of respect, fairness, honesty and responsibility.” This award honors schools that demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship during competitive events and is sponsored by Georgia’s Electric Membership Corporations.
Only one school in each division in each region is chosen to receive this annual award. The GHSA takes into consideration all aspects of sportsmanship during events. They look at how student athletes interact on the field, and how well fellow students, school staff, parents and game spectators demonstrate spirit and sportsmanship.

4-H Presidents - Martinez Elementary 

MES students
Thanks to our 4-H Presidents from Blue Ridge Elementary for leading the Pledge at the Board of Education meeting. Great job, student leaders!

Toshiba America Foundation Grant Publication Case Study

Crystal McDowell - Greenbrier High


Greenbrier High School AP Biology teacher, Crystal McDowell, was awarded a grant for a case study submitted to the Toshiba America Foundation.
In January 2022, the Toshiba America Foundation awarded Greenbrier High School a grant for $8,981.00 for Crystal McDowell’s proposal, “Developing STEM Literacy and Applied Science through Biotechnology.” The purpose of this grant is to integrate biotechnology into multiple disciplines using real-world applications that provide a relevant context for student learning. The equipment and lab kits for implementation were purchased through MiniOne Systems.
However, one of the lab kits related to Hypercholesterolemia did not include a lab protocol to accompany the lab. Given Mrs. McDowell’s family history of cardiovascular disease, bringing awareness to this genetic condition and its effect on the human body has special meaning; therefore, Mrs. McDowell wrote a case study to accompany the lab that correlated to GA Standards of Excellence for Human Anatomy and Physiology. After attending a training session at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Houston, TX last spring, Ms. McDowell, shared her plan with MiniOne. MiniOne was so impressed with Mrs. McDowell’s case study they asked if they could use it with their lab kit so other teachers and students could use the “story” in their classrooms.
In recognition of Mrs. McDowell’s work, MiniOne is sponsoring her at the National Association of Biology Teachers Conference in Indianapolis in November. In addition, she has been invited to present the case study at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Atlanta in March of 2023.

STEM/STEAM Professional Learning Innovation Competitive Grant

Valery Dinkins - Martinez Elementary

Valery Dinkins, the STEM Coordinator at Martinez Elementary, received the STEM/STEAM Professional Learning Innovation Competitive Grant through the GA Department of Education to help expand science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities for Martinez Elementary students. Teams of teachers will attend the Georgia STEM/STEAM Forum and the Georgia Educational Technology Conference. Students will be impacted as teachers come back into the classroom with new ideas to expand and integrate STEM into their daily learning objectives. This professional development will have a lasting effect on student achievement as they work on year-long STEM projects and tasks.
The goal of the STEM/STEAM Professional Learning Grant is to expand access to the STEM/STEAM education through project-based learning, content integration, process-based thinking, collaborative planning, and other STEM and STEAM professional learning. To ensure funds are used as intended, the GaDOE STEM/STEAM team will monitor the implementation of grant proposals by reviewing mid-year and annual reports.
Mrs. Dinkins and Martinez Elementary was one of only 15 districts selected and will be awarded $9,800.00 for the programming innovations!