Riverwood High unveils “Global Garden and Outdoor Classroom”

International studies magnet school Riverwood High School unveiled its new “Global Garden and Outdoor Classroom” last month. The garden, which cost more than $25,000 in funds raised by the Riverwood PTSA and the Riverwood Foundation, includes an 8-foot diameter sculpture of Earth, designed by advanced placement art students Mackenzie Walls and India Tate and created by Cleveland, Ga.-based artist Robert Owens. It also includes a circular sitting wall, drought-tolerant plants, stones engraved with the images of the seven continents and will include a compass rose drain cover.

Global Garden and Outdoor Classroom committee member Adele Miller said in a release “the Sandy Springs Society grant to the Riverwood Foundation for the creation of the globe sculpture jump-started the fund raising process.”

A dedication ceremony was attended by more than 100 parents, students, school faculty and staff, donors and community supporters. The family of Joel Shapiro was honored for a significant contribution.

Board approves tentative ‘09 budget

The Fulton County School Board on May 15 tentatively approved 4-2 a $857.3 million fiscal 2009 general fund budget with Dist. 5 board member Ashley Widener and Dist. 1 board member Linda Schultz voting against approval and Dist. 3 board member Gail Dean absent.

The proposed budget, which is expected to be adopted June 12, provides funding for an anticipated 2,500 additional students as well as teachers and support staff needed to accommodate that increase, according to a Fulton County School System release. It also accounts for student and staffing needs at the new Lake Forest Elementary School in Sandy Springs and an accelerated opening of the planned Ison Road elementary school project in 2009 rather than 2010. All school system employees will receive a 2.5 percent salary raise and eligible employees will be given a step increase, meaning most will receive about a 5.3 percent raise.

State invalidates test scores for grades 6 & 7

Lower-than-expected scores in several areas of the 2008 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in most Georgia School systems have led the Department of Education to invalidate scores in social studies for grades six and seven.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox announced the invalidation May 21, writing in a letter to school system superintendents that “performance appears to be implausibly low.”

“After intense scrutiny of the standards and the assessment, we have come to the conclusion that these scores are not trustworthy measures of student achievement in social studies. Accordingly, the results will be invalidated. It is important to note that we found nothing technically incorrect with the scoring of these assessments. This decision is based primarily on the conviction that we need to revise the curriculum and the assessments to better evaluate the knowledge and skills that represent student achievement in social studies,” she wrote.

Art Hopkins to speak at Art Institute graduation

The Sandy Springs-based Art Institute of Atlanta’s commencement ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. June 13 downtown at the Georgia World Congress Center. Art Hopkins, president of Atlanta-based Macquarium Intelligent Communications, will be the keynote speaker.

With more than 17 years of experience as a leader and innovator in business and technology, Hopkins is a member of the board of directors for the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the W.E.B. DuBois Society.

About 260 students from the Art Institute of Atlanta are candidates for bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science or associate in arts degrees and diplomas.

Macquarium Intelligent Communications provides user-friendly online experiences to clients including Best Buy, The Home Depot, The International Olympic Committee and Delta Air Lines.

Holy Innocents’ seniors graduate

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School graduated 102 seniors at its campus in Sandy Springs May 17. After posing in caps and gowns for a class picture, the seniors followed the faculty into the gym for the ceremony. After an invocation from the Reverend Jeff Reichmann and a greeting from Head of School Kirk Duncan, Student Council President Meredith Broudy led the assembly in a reading of Psalm 67. Salutatorian Norma Nyhoff then read a lesson from Corinthians, after which Associate Head of School Rick Betts introduced Valedictorian, Rachel Sullivan.

In her speech, Sullivan recounted experiences she had shared with her classmates and urged them all to pursue acts of goodness. Upper School Principal Chris Durst then introduced the seniors, who advanced across the stage to receive their diplomas from Duncan and Chairman of the Board David Stockert.

Mount Vernon holds first graduation

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Sandy Springs graduated 26 seniors at its Glenn Campus in Sandy Springs May 20. The students are members of the school’s first graduating class.

Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, gave a commencement speech in which he encouraged the graduates to consistently fill their lives with a spirit of service.

Salutatorian Lisa Mielke reminisced about her past four years as an upper school student and conveyed the faith her class has in Mount Vernon’s direction and growth. She thanked the teachers and extended gratitude to the parents of the class for providing encouragement and preparation. Valedictorian Parker Coffin then spoke about the true meaning of success throughout life. He said success is not achieved through affluence but attained by being a leader of your own life and creating your own pathways to satisfaction.