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CCSD News » CCSD News - 2023-2024

CCSD News - 2023-2024

January 9, 2024 - CCSD students among the first to experience new JA Discovery Center of the CSRA

EVANS, GA -- Today was a great day for students in the CSRA.

Sixth graders from Greenbrier Middle School were the very first to kick off the Biz Town experience at the new JA Discovery Center. Another group will attend tomorrow, followed by sixth-grade students from Riverside, and Stallings Island. A rotation of classes will continue from there.

JA Discovery Center lobby

Our students’ parents have joined in serving as volunteers for the day-long experience, and we encourage our parents of sixth and seventh-grade students to sign up to volunteer on the day their child’s class is scheduled to visit. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our parents. There are spaces available, but they are limited.  students smiling

The community will be able to see inside the Discovery Center at the official grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, January 11, from 5 – 7 p.m.

Community engagement is an important component to student achievement and success so we are eager to continue those connections through ongoing volunteer opportunities available at the center.

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The Discovery Center of the CSRA's first group of volunteers consisted of middle school parents and district staff.

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A student is sworn in as the "town Sheriff," to keep order, one of the many roles students participate in as part of the simulated economy at the Discovery Center. Students also hold roles like CEO, CFO, CMO, and Commissioner, among others.

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Volunteers run the Discovery Center. Volunteering for the day is easy. All you need is a job and to have paid a bill to be eligible. 

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Students participated in jobs at a variety of storefronts located right here in the CSRA. This provides a real-world scenario for students to implement their lessons in financial literacy such as paying bills, earning a paycheck, paying taxes, owning a business, and much more. 

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Columbia County School District Dr. Steve Flynt speaks with students during their lunch break at the new JA Discovery Center of the CSRA. The students are the first to experience the simulated economy.

 

January 11, 2024 - Community celebrates grand opening of Discovery Center of the CSRA

Junior Achievement of Georgia held the official grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new Discovery Center of the CSRA at the facility on Thursday, January 11, 2024, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
 
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Members of the Boards of Education and Superintendents from both Columbia and Richmond County Schools held a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the community to recognize the facility being officially open for business.
 
Learn more about the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA, here: https://www.georgia.ja.org/csra
 
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Sharard Pritchett, Columbia County School District Director of Special Education Services, (left), and Jessica Shepherd, Instructional Specialist at Greenbrier Middle School, engage in discussion during the grand opening event at Junior Achievement Discovery Center of the CSRA, on Thursday, January 11, 2024. 
 
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Ashley Whitaker, JA of Georgia Director of Development for the CSRA, delivers remarks ahead of the ribbon cutting at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA on Thursday, January 11, 2024. 
 
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John Hancock, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Georgia, delivers remarks ahead of the ribbon cutting at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA on Thursday, January 11, 2024. 
 
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From left: Richmond County Board of Education Chairman Charllie Walker Jr., and Columbia County Board of Education Chairman David Dekle deliver remarks ahead of the ribbon cutting. 
 
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Greenbrier Middle School sixth grader Derrick Burton answers questions from Dr. Steve Flynt, left, about his experience at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA. Students from both Richmond and Columbia counties answered questions from their respective superintendents, regarding their experience two days prior, ahead of the ribbon cutting at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA on January 11, 2024. 
 
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John Hancock, left, and members of the Columbia and Richmond County school Boards of Education, along with two students, celebrate with a ribbon cutting of the new facility at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA on Thursday, January 11, 2024.
 
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John Hancock, left, and members of the Columbia and Richmond County school Boards of Education, along with two students, celebrate with a ribbon cutting of the new facility at the JA Discovery Center of the CSRA on Thursday, January 11, 2024.
 
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Toni Cliatt, Greenbrier Middle School Principal, (left), Greenbrier Middle student Derrick Burton and his parents, along with Dr. Steve Flynt (center), Superintendent of the Columbia County School District. 
 
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Columbia County Board of Education: (from left) David Dekle, Chairman; Kristi Baker, District 2 Representative; Dr. Steve Flynt, Superintendent; Vice-Chairman Judy Teasley, District 3 Representative; David Alalof, District 1 Representative; and Lee Ann Meyer, District 4 representative. 
 
 
TV media coverage of the grand opening:
 
 

Stevens Creek Elementary 5th Grader Wins District Spelling Bee

January 17, 2024
 

The annual District Spelling Bee was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at Lakeside Middle School.

School-level spelling bee winners from each elementary and middle school competed for the opportunity to represent the district at the region spelling bee and beyond.

The winner of the 2023-2024 Columbia County School District Spelling Bee is Sreeya Lakkimsetti, fifth-grade student at Stevens Creek Elementary.

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After 10 rounds, Sreeya was named the winner with the correct spelling of the word “surrealist.” She is the sister of the 2023-2024 District Spelling Bee winner Sai Lakkimsetti, who went on to compete at the National Spelling Bee.

In second place is third grader Raghav Thumsi from Blue Ridge Elementary, followed by third place winner Riddhi Boga, a fifth grader from River Ridge Elementary.

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Pictured from left: Second place winner Raghav Thumsi, third grader from Blue Ridge Elementary; District Champion Sreeya Lakkimsetti, fifth-grader from Stevens Creek Elementary; and third place winner Riddhi Boga, fifth-grader from River Ridge Elementary. 

All three of these students will represent the Columbia County School District at the Region 7 Spelling Bee on Saturday, February 24, 2024, at Putnam County Middle School in Eatonton.

Congratulations, to all of our outstanding student spellers.

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See a complete list of all school-level winners here: https://www.ccboe.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=4147921&type=d&pREC_ID=2540053

 

January 25, 2024

EVANS, GA -- The inaugural Columbia County Health Careers Expo welcomed more than 400 students from all five high schools, for the opportunity to meet with practicing health care professionals across a variety of careers in healthcare.

Students who participated in the event are currently enrolled in a second-year healthcare pathway, which is available at all CCSD high schools. The event was designed to allow students with a vested interest in the medical profession to explore their own interests and potential careers. 

Representatives from local healthcare businesses and organizations from across the CSRA provided important information on health careers such as respiratory therapy, dentistry/dental hygiene, emergency medical tech, pharmacy/pharmacy tech, and more. At each career booth, students were able to learn about salaries, educational requirements, and more.

Representatives from Augusta University, Augusta Technical College, Aiken Technical College, and USC Aiken, were also in attendance to share important admissions and program information.  

This learning opportunity is made possible in partnership with the Columbia County School District, MPC40, Georgia Statewide AHEC, and the Foothills AHEC.

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Student-athletes medal in annual Special Olympics State Bowling Competition  

January 29, 2024
 

Evans High

  • Kate Daly - Silver Medal
  • Sara Wahman - Bronze Medal
  • Skyler Leung - Silver Medal

Greenbrier High

  • Olivia Davis - Fourth Place

Grovetown High

  • Michael Barker - Gold Medal (Michael won Gold in a last-frame victory!  Michael was down by 8 pins.  He bowled a 9-pin knockdown in the final frame to win Gold by one pin!)
  • Bryan Belton - Silver Medal

Harlem High

  • Abdias Colon - Bronze Medal
  • Ky-Mani Session - Silver Medal

Lakeside High

  • Jevon Dunn - Silver Medal
  • Cooper Claus - Bronze Medal

Congratulations, to all of these outstanding athletes!

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Grovetown High School Resource Officer Kenny Curtis named

CCSD Officer of the Year

 

February 15, 2024 - The annual Columbia County School District Police Officer of the Year recognition was awarded Thursday, February 15, 2024, to Grovetown High School Resource Officer Kenny Curtis.

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The award was created to recognize excellence among the dedicated School Resource Officers of the Columbia County School District 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 Curtis was surprised with the recognition during lunchtime in the cafeteria at the school, on National School Resource Officer Appreciation Day. 

“This is special,” Officer Curtis said after receiving the award. “Every officer in our district could probably deserve this.”

 

“I have loved this job since the day I walked into this school. It’s the only school I’ve ever worked at. I’ve had my good days and bad days, but most of them are very good days. We have great kids here.”

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 Officer Curtis began his career in law enforcement in 1996, and has served Grovetown High School and the Columbia County School District since 2013.

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Grovetown High School Principal Andrew Young called Officer Curtis a role model for the students and staff, adding that he takes pride in his school, by attending athletics and programs both on and off campus. Young said Officer Curtis takes pride in his school by assisting custodial and nutrition staff, and even volunteers as a DJ during lunch, homecoming dances and other school events.

“Through his years of dedicated service at the largest high school in the CSRA, Officer Curtis has shown a tremendous sense of service to our students and to our community,” Young said.  “Kids love him, the staff loves him, and our community is a better and safer place because he Leads the Way every day!”

 Congratulations to Officer Curtis, the 2023-24 Columbia County School District Police Officer of the Year.

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February 16, 2024 - CTAE Workforce Showcase

 

The fourth annual Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Workforce Showcase took place on February 16, 2024, and was held in partnership with Columbia County, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the Columbia County Chamber Foundation. Students in CTAE pathways from each of the CCSD's five high schools participated in a variety of events showcasing industry skills they have learned.

New this year, students engaged in a career expo the evening before the showcase which allowed them time to network and engage with representatives of business and industry associated with their respective pathways.

Additionally, the newly established Columbia County School District Foundation awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a work-based learning student through an interview-based competition. The winner of that competition was Sebastian Velasquez Villar from Evans High School. 

Special thanks to event sponsors with Columbia County, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbia County Chamber Foundation, who understand and value the importance of community engagement and its positive impact on student achievement and success. 

2024 CTAE Workforce Showcase Winners

Automotive
  • Beginner - Matthew Morris, Harlem High School
  • Intermediate - Cody Price, Harlem High School
  • Advanced - Jacob Quarles and Collier McGowan, Harlem High School
 
Health Science
  • Health Career Display - Maya Ferguson and Alex Peric, Greenbrier High School
  • HOSA Bowl - Pete Herron, J.T. Wicker, Meghan Nadkarni, and Natalie Horne, Evans High School 
 
Law Enforcement
  • Tactical Skills Competition: Gio Arroyo, Claire Duffie, Ellie Beattie, Hailey Butler, Sheridan Carrier, and Emma Jacobs - Harlem High School
  • Crime Scene: Georgia Heath, Naomi VanVoorhis, and Lola Lu - Harlem High School
  • High-Risk Traffic Stop: Braxton Gross, Yasmin Pless, Annabelle Summers, and Eli Bisel - Harlem High School
 
Teaching as a Profession
  • Lesson Plan Creation Competition: Aly Rogers and Rhyanna Orman - Harlem High School
  • Bulletin Board Creation Competition: Shelby Bennett, Nytavious Carter, Marlea Griffis, and Catherine Holmes - Lakeside High School
 
JROTC
  • LET 1 and 2: Noal Brown - Grovetown High School
  • LET 2 and 3: John Brown - Grovetown High School
 
Construction
  • Residential Electrical: Neil Whatley - Evans High School
 
Welding
  • Beginner: Jaret Grotz - Grovetown High School 
  • Intermediate: Nick Cerasaro - Grovetown High School
  • Advanced: Jay Stretch, John Pittman, and Keon Perry - Grovetown High School
 
Engineering
  • Vex Robotics Skills Challenge: Mason Cannon, Chance Henry, Clayton Doyle, and Dallas Williams - Harlem High School 
 
Audio Visual/Film and Marketing
  • School CTAE Pathway Promotion: Zae Johnson, Adam Foulks, and Glenn Graves - Evans High School 
 
Agriculture
  • Tractor Pull Competition: William Tyler - Harlem High School
  • Mower Competition: Jakob Moore - Harlem High School
 
Graphic Arts/Communications
  • Event logo design competition: Gavin Infante, and Tucker Presley - Evans High School
 
Business, Marketing and Finance
  • Pathway Promotion Competition: Shelbi Miller - Grovetown High School
 
Culinary Arts
  • Cupcake Challenge: Natali Ho, Karina Evans, and Jakasia Gray - Grovetown High School 
 
Cyber
  • Circuit Soldering: Zander Conner - Evans High School
 
Fire Fighting
  • Skills Challenge: Emmett Hudson - Evans High School
 
Cosmetology
  • Wedding/Special Events Style Competition: Taylor Hentges - Grovetown High School
 
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CCSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Flynt and others provide remarks at the opening reception for the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase, at the multi-purpose facility of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. 
 
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Healthcare Science Pathway students prepare for competition at the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase. 
 
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Students in the CTAE Engineering Pathway compete in the VEX Robotics Skills Challenge at the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition.
 
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Students in the CTAE Engineering Pathway compete in the VEX Robotics Skills Challenge at the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition.
 
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Students in the CATE Cosmetology Pathway compete in a competition to complete a wedding/special event up-do.
 
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Students in the CATE Cosmetology Pathway compete in a competition to complete a wedding/special event up-do.
 
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Students in the Graphic Design Pathway present their event logo design presentation to judges during the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition. 
 
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Students in the Business, Marketing and Finance CTAE Pathways participated in the pathway promotion competition during the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition. 
 
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Students in the Culinary Pathway await judging of their displays for the Culinary Cupcake Challenge event at the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase. 
 
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Students in the Law Enforcement Pathway compete in the High-Risk Traffic Stop and Crime Scene Investigation Competitions at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, during the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase.
 
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Students in the Automotive and Construction CTAE Pathways participate in their respective competitions at Columbia County Fleet Services Department, during the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition.
 
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A student in the Welding CTAE Pathway participates in a welding skills competition during the fourth annual CTAE Workforce Showcase Competition at the Columbia County Fleet Services building.
 
 

CCSD Teacher of the Year Named Top 10 State Finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year

For the first time since 2011, the Columbia County School District (CCSD)’s Teacher of the Year has been named a Top 10 Finalist in the running for Georgia Teacher of the Year. 

Ms. Crystal McDowell, a science teacher at Greenbrier High School, was recognized during a surprise presentation in her classroom by State School Superintendent Dr. Richard Woods, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Flynt, Greenbrier High School Principal Chip Fulmer, and others. Ms. McDowell will go on to meet with a panel of judges for formal interviews and speeches prior to the selection of the 2025 Teacher of the Year.

She is the ninth CCSD Teacher of the Year to be named a state finalist.

“What an honor. I just want to say, that first and foremost, the students are who this is all about, they’re why I do what I do every day. It means the world to be able to represent our county, and potentially represent our state, and to be able to do everything I can to make it a wonderful experience for our kids.”

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Ms. Crystal McDowell is pictured with students in her Anatomy Class at Greenbrier High School. The students were part of the celebration when the announcement was made that Ms. McDowell was a State Finalist. 

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Pictured from left: Greenbrier High School Principal Chip Fulmer; State Finalist Crystal McDowell; State School Superintendent Dr. Richard Woods; and CCSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Flynt; the group and others surprised Ms. McDowell with the announcement during class on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. 

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March 20, 2024 - All five CCSD High Schools named Advanced Placement Honor Schools

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The Georgia Department of Education has released the list of 2024 Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Schools, and all five Columbia County School District high schools have been recognized.

The recognition is based on eight categories from the results of each schools’ 2023 AP courses and exams. All five high schools are recognized for achievement in at least two out of eight categories. Since 2020, CCSD high schools have consistently been recognized for excellence in multiple categories. This year, two schools added new honor school recognitions over last year in AP Humanities Achievement Honor Schools and AP STEM Achievement Honor Schools.

The list of 2024 CCSD honor schools are as follows:

  • AP Access and Support School – Grovetown High School

Schools with at least 30% of AP exams taken by students who identified as African American and/or Hispanic (minimum of 16 students) and 30% of all AP exams earning scores of 3 or higher. At least 25 exams must be administered.

  • AP Expansion Schools – Harlem High School

AP schools with 25% growth in AP student participation from May 2022 to May 2023 and a minimum of 25 students testing in May 2022.

  • AP Humanities Schools – Evans High School, Greenbrier High School, Grovetown High School, and Lakeside High School

Schools with at least five exams administered in each of the following AP categories: one ELA course, two social studies courses, one fine arts course, and one world language course and a minimum of 25 total exams administered.

  • AP Humanities Achievement Schools – Evans High School, Greenbrier High School, Grovetown High School, and Lakeside High School

AP Humanities schools (see above definition) with at least 50% of all AP Humanities exams earning scores of 3 or higher.

  • AP Schools of Distinction – Evans High School, Greenbrier High School, and Lakeside High School

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.

  • AP STEM Schools – Evans High School, Greenbrier High School, Grovetown High School, Harlem High School, and Lakeside High 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, and a minimum of 25 exams administered.
 
  • AP STEM Achievement Schools – Evans High School, Greenbrier High School, Grovetown High School, and Lakeside High School
AP STEM schools (see above definition) with at least 50% of all AP STEM exams earning scores of 3 or higher.

 

About the CCSD Advanced Placement Program

The Advanced Placement program in the Columbia County School District continues to grow each year.  In 2023, a total of 2,127 students completed 3,653 AP exams, for the highest number of students taking AP exams since the inception of the CCSD’s AP Program.  As the enrollment in AP courses continues to increase each year, approximately 65% of students earned a passing score of 3 or higher on the AP exams. 

College Board reports that 85% of selective colleges and universities consider a student’s AP experience favorably when making admissions decisions.  Additionally, College Board research shows that students who receive a score of 2 on their AP Exams are ready for college work, and students who receive a score of 3 or higher on AP exams typically experience greater academic success in college and have higher graduation rates than their non-AP peers.  Lastly, 3 out of 4 AP students enrolled in a four-year college start school with some AP credit. 

GHS 2023 State Champion Girls Golf team experience Augusta National Women's Amateur

 
 
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Student-athletes and coaches of the Greenbrier High School 2023 State Champion Girls Golf Team received complimentary tickets to attend the 2024 Augusta National Women's Amateur at Champion's Retreat. 
 
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Student-athletes and coaches of the GHS 2023 State Champion girls golf team had the opportunity to meet players in the competition as part of the experience. 
 
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Student-athletes and coaches of the GHS 2023 State Champion Girls Golf Team received complimentary tickets to the Augusta National Women's Amateur.