Superintendent answers concerns about Marine school

The DeKalb County School System’s superintendent released a letter March 26 in which he responded to “inquiries, allegations and inaccuracies” regarding plans to open the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute.

“I respect all opinions about this endeavor and seek to respond openly and honestly to the citizenry,” Superintendent Crawford Lewis wrote. “My goal like yours is to contribute to a higher quality of life for your family and others in DeKalb like mine.”

DeKalb school officials hope to open the institute next school year. It would be a public military academy, a concept that started several years ago in Richmond, Va., but has not yet reached Georgia. Like a private military academy, it would combine academics with a military regimen but would not require any post-high-school military commitment for students. The academic program would be heavy on math and science.

The Marine Corps would share the costs of the school, which would have both a commandant and a principal and would serve as many as 650 ninth- through 12th-graders from across the county.

The leading site to host the institute is the Heritage Center off Briarcliff Road in north DeKalb. It is a former elementary school that now holds a special-needs program, but the county plans to merge those students into a similar program at Margaret Harris School.

Some critics of the institute object to the Heritage location; others decry the proposal as a veiled military recruitment tool.

Lewis said he has received letters of support in addition to communications fearful of military recruitment and concerned about the location.

He said the institute would be an extension of the JROTC program that operates in 19 of the county’s 22 public high schools. “The proposed DeKalb Marine Corps Institute is a creative means to offer an already successful model for supporting our youth.”

The institute would counteract what Lewis called “urban inertia,” the combination of forces such as poverty and absentee parents preventing DeKalb youths from graduating high school and becoming productive citizens.

Lewis argued that the value of school is its potential to boost the county’s 72.5 percent graduation rate, not its position “along the pro-military/pro-peace continuum.”

He said the school system has not decided the location of the institute.

A public hearing about the closing of the Heritage Center will be held at that site, 2225 Heritage Drive, at 6:30 p.m. April 14.

Marist senior named Georgia’s top male athlete

The Georgia Athletic Directors Association has named Marist School senior David Connolly the top male athlete in the state.

He is the recipient of the United Health/Student Resources High School Male/Female Scholarship Award, a $1,000 scholarship that goes to one male and one female athlete for representing their sports well in performance and leadership.

David runs track and cross country at Marist and will continue his athletic career at Dartmouth College in the fall.

Davis names Lower School head

Davis Academy has promoted Drew Frank to principal of its Lower School.

Frank has worked at the Sandy Springs school for nine years, including as teacher, Lower School assistant principal, and most recently director of academics and enrichment.

“Drew’s experience in both teaching and administrative roles right here at Davis has enabled him to develop a vast knowledge of our school operations and culture. Drew brings an excellent combination of professional expertise, warmth and a commitment to personal attention to each child,” Davis Head of School Sid Kirschner said.

Frank succeeds Rebecca Hunt, who resigned and took a consulting role with Davis.

Local schools score big at state Tech Fair

The 2009 Georgia Educational Technology Fair last month in Cumming proved a successful day for several Sandy Springs private schools and a charter school open to students in Buckhead and Brookhaven as well as Sandy Springs.

From Greenfield Hebrew Academy, Rem Hellmann was second in 3D modeling for third and fourth grades; Daniel Nixon finished second in hardware for fifth and sixth grades; and Ben Stolovitz was second in project programming for seventh and eighth grades.

From The Epstein School, Talia Katz won the 3D modeling category for fifth and sixth grades; Jake Bardack finished third in animated graphic design among third- and fourth-graders; Jack Schneider was second in digital video editing for fifth and sixth grades; Rebecca Cohen finished first in multimedia applications for fourth grade; Asher Berman and Samantha Weinberg were second in multimedia applications for sixth-graders; Jamie Albert and Rachel Schwartz were third in multimedia applications among seventh-graders; Peter Dunis and Alex Duner won multimedia applications for the eighth grade; and Asher Berman finished third in the technology literacy challenge for fifth- and sixth-graders.

From The Weber School, Jonathan Gaynes finished third in digital video editing among 11th- and 12th-graders, and Josh Mangel was second in Web 2.0 Internet applications for ninth- and 10th-graders.

From North Springs Charter High School, Ivan Akimov finished second in nonanimated graphic design for ninth and 10th grades; Eden Weingart won the nonanimated graphic design category for 11th and 12th grades; and David Kontyko won the individual programming challenge among 11th- and 12th-graders.