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Dual Language Japanese-English State Charter School Accepting Applications for August 2019



International Charter Academy

International Charter Academy of Georgia (ICA Georgia), a new dual language Japanese-English charter school, will start accepting applications for August 2019 on January 10, 2019. Applications will be available online at www.internationalcharteracademy.org.

As a statewide charter school located in Peachtree Corner, GA, the school is open to any K-5 student residing in the state of Georgia. ICA Georgia uses the Dual Language Model for Japanese and English instruction, which is supported by a wealth of research and recommended by experts in dual language acquisition. In this innovative model, the ratio of time spent in each language favors Japanese in younger grades and shifts to balance more evenly with English as students age. All core subjects will be taught in both languages, exposing students to a wide range of content learning areas in the target language and enhancing academic achievement in general.

The school will employ a number of other state-of-the-art techniques to further enhance students’ education. English and Japanese teachers will use a team teaching approach, and pull out classes will be available in both languages to ensure the success of non-native speakers. Hands-on inquiry based learning and a student-centered environment conducive to lifetime learning and open-mindedness will be hallmarks of ICA Georgia’s program. A special emphasis will be placed on writing in all grades, particularly research paper writing. Effective use of IT will further enhance cooperative learning and differentiation.  A high level of Japanese will be attained by using the Japanese Ministry of Education curriculum in the Japanese department.

Beyond learning the Japanese language, ICA Georgia students will also be exposed  to Japanese school life, including Japanese physical education, music, haiku, cultural events, healthy Japanese food (recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO), and Japanese calligraphy.

School days begin at 8:00 am and end at 3:00 pm Monday through Thursday, with Friday’s dismissal at 2:00 pm. After school care is available until 6:30 pm from Generation in Focus (www.generationinfocus.com). To balance the academic benefits of the year-round calendar for students while at the same time maintaining the convenience of the traditional calendar for parents, the school will have 190 school days per year.

ICA Georgia aims to broaden the horizons of students in Georgia so that they may become global citizens who promote peace around the world. ICA Georgia students will be expected to contribute to the local and global community through various service learning projects, and ICA Georgia will promote parental involvement and build a community that learns from one another.

According to Georgia State Representative Tom Taylor (District 79), “Our state needs employees who can speak more than one language, and there is no better time for its citizens to acquire language skills than when they are young. This charter school will also be an excellent educational environment for children with parents who come from Japan to do business in Georgia.”

Barbara Kennedy, Ed.D, Director of Dual Language and Bilingual Education at the Center for Applied Linguistics, states, “We are excited to see the progress in the preparations for the opening of International Charter Academy of Georgia. Multilingual education is a research-validated approach to promoting second language acquisition among students of various language backgrounds. Additionally, multilingual education can provide opportunities for the promotion of cross-cultural understanding among students, who, in turn, develop important lifelong skills that enhance their ability to interact effectively in our increasingly globalized world.”

Chenyi Zhang, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Georgia State University, states, “In recent years, given the trend of globalization and international collaboration, supporting children’s early foreign language learning has become an important educational issue in early childhood and elementary education. ICA Georgia employs a unique dual language immersion approach to promote children’s foreign language skills through environment exposure and adult-child interactions without interrupting typical English early literacy development…In short, ICA Georgia will provide an early learning experience that is valuable for preparing future generations of ‘global citizens.’”

The US State Department designates Japanese as a Critical Language, and there are more than 600 Japanese companies in Georgia. Yet despite the increasingly globalized nature of our society, research indicates that Global Literacy is low in American youth (Council on Foreign Relations, 2016). Studies show that immersion students develop greater cognitive flexibility, increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem-solving skills compared to their peers. (See Lindholm-Leary, Dual Language Education. (2001)). ICA Georgia’s mission is to provide the students of Georgia with the skills they need to succeed in our increasingly globalized society.

For further details about the school, visit www.internationalcharteracademy.org, call 770-604-0007, or email info@internationalcharteracademy.org.

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A Community Cornerstone Grows Stronger



The expanded campus.

Cornerstone Christian Academy’s Campus Improvements. Photos By George Hunter.

Bright minds prefer a bright, sunny setting to stay sharp and positive. Cornerstone Christian Academy has gone to major lengths to promote the future success and well-being of their students by completing a serious of recent extensive campus renovations, funded by over $3 million raised by philanthropic support from the Cornerstone community and friends of Cornerstone.

Colin Creel and his son Cole

Cornerstone is no stranger to renovations and building improvements throughout its two-decade history, continuing to expand its facilities periodically to accommodate for development in academics, athletics, arts and many other enriching educational endeavors. The school has come a long, long way from its humble 2001 beginnings as a church school in the children’s wing at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church.

Dee Ann Crawford, Josh Whitlock, Sara Fogle.

Since the 2016 purchase of their 11-acre property at 5295 Triangle Pkwy NW in Peachtree Corners, Cornerstone’s board redirected their efforts to projects that would prove beneficial in the long-term which previously weren’t feasible in a leasing agreement.

“God’s dreams for Cornerstone have always been bigger than mine. Each time we renovated or expanded our campus, I tried to imagine what God would do next,” said Former Head of School and current Director of Admissions De Ann Crawford.

The interior structure of the building works rather well, but the board felt the surrounding grounds could use enhancements of its aesthetic appeal. Additionally, students needed more useable outdoor spaces.

Making way for new space

Demolition to make way for wide-open spaces began over Spring Break last year, which included the leveling of an old office building to make way for a much-anticipated campus mall. Most of the construction was completed by the start of school. Staff and students gained full access to the new outdoor spaces after Cornerstone’s 20-year celebration on October 1.

“During the celebration, I must admit, I stepped aside with a grateful heart as the worship band played, families spent time together, and wonderful new memories were being created from one end of the campus to the other,” Crawford said.

At the improved Cornerstone Christian Academy campus, students can run around on the grassy campus mall dubbed Cougar Quad. Cougar Quad includes Flook Stage on one end and Honor Plaza on the other.

“Recess is significantly more fun because the large green space allows us to play ultimate frisbee. The green space also has allowed my teachers to create fun and innovative activities like math scavenger hunts,” said student Cole Creel. “In addition, as a house leader I am hoping to host ping pong and foosball tournaments in the MS Plaza for the student body.”

Creel just couldn’t contain his excitement about the transformation of his school and demonstrated gumption that perhaps mirrors his dad (Headmaster Colin Creel) by sending an impassioned message to Peachtree Corners Magazine asking for the good news to be shared with the outer community.

Quad brings benefits to all

Staff members have remarked on the welcome changes as well.

“As a parent of four young children, I know it’s important to let them run around outside in the fresh air. This space will be great for recess,” said Director of Technology and Design Josh Whitlock. “I already see students playing kickball, four square, just running around, and my personal favorite singing and dancing on the stage. Even the middle school students are enjoying the space.”

Whitlock has taught at Cornerstone for 10 years and has three children of his own attending the school in first, second and third grade, as well as a four-year-old who will join them next year. Besides his personal thoughts on the spaces, on a professional level Whitlock has already witnessed the benefits.

“I love taking my video production class outside any time there is good weather. We are able to spread out and film several projects in the new space,” he said. “I’ve also had the privilege of hosting some Cornerstone alumni Chapel Band members to play music for our large family gathering on the new stage. I know we will have a lot of live music and movie watching happen on the green.”

Teacher and Chapel Coordinator Sara Fogle shared similar sentiments. “The campus expansions have created such a positive energy to our student community,” she noted. “The addition of our Cougar Quad and patio has increased our ability to provide student gatherings and teaching options like never before.”

Fogle is quickly approaching 14 years at Cornerstone teaching a wide array of subjects, primarily seventh and eighth grade Math, and Bible classes for fifth through eighth grades, as well as elective classes such as World Religions, Cooking and Chess. Her three kids attended through eighth grade, then went on to Norcross High School; currently, all three attend University of Georgia.

“This place has been an anchored extended family that has helped us grow and thrive. I have been fortunate to see the physical growth of our school, as a staff and a campus,” Fogle said.

For the Lower School Carpool, a covered walkway was erected named Adra Breezeway. Lastly, the plan included numerous infrastructure additions related to fiber, lighting, asphalt and more. The added lighting and visibility should bolster security measures as well.

“We are blessed in Georgia with moderate temperatures which allow us to utilize these outdoor spaces for most of the year,” Headmaster Creel said.

Cornerstone’s cornerstone

But all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold. It’s always most important to remember what truly matters. A great campus is one thing, but it’s the people that are the cornerstone of Cornerstone.

“We are blessed by the leadership of Headmaster Colin Creel, an exemplary faculty, students that love to learn and supportive families that believe in the value of a Christian education,” Crawford stressed. “In my role, I can understand how new facilities might draw more people to Cornerstone, but this new look still isn’t as beautiful as the relationships that God has planned for the Cornerstone community.”

For more information about Cornerstone’s history in the community, and about current happenings at the school, head over to cornerstonecougars.org.

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Greater Atlanta Christian School raises 34,000 cans for Salvation Army’s Can-A-Than



Supporting the Salvation Army’s Can-A-Thon has been an annual school-wide tradition at Greater Atlanta Christian School. Realizing the need was more significant than ever due to the pandemic, the administrators challenged the students to raise an astonishing 30,000 cans. 

34,000 non-perishables were collected and delivered to the Salvation Army on Friday, December 3rd. 
The Infant-12th grade students rallied their efforts for three weeks in varying ways to accomplish their goals. Different competitions (social media, boy-girl, grade-level) all spurred the number of cans to grow. A unique twist for the High School was that as each “can goal” was met, a selected faculty member committed to doing karaoke in front of the whole student body. 

On Can-A-Thon collection day, over 80 students from the Performance Training, Swim, and Student Ministry classes volunteered their strength to load the boxes into Salvation Army trucks. On-site at Salvation Army, the GAC Concert Choir serenaded volunteers with spirited Christmas music while student leaders unloaded boxes and presented the donations for the 11Alive Can-A-Thon. It truly was a school-wide collaborative effort that made this donation possible. 

Making the Can-A-Thon fun adds to the success, but the larger goal is much more intentional. “It’s inspiring to see our students, from the youngest to the oldest, come together and make a big impact for the food pantries. Our goal is more than collecting canned goods, it’s to develop a love for giving in all capacities,” shared Greater Atlanta Christian School President, Dr. Scott Harsh.

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Paul Duke STEM High School Formula 24 Racing Team Forges a New Path, Assisted by McDonald’s Golden Grant



Above, left to right: Aaron Ho, Captain of Electrical Systems; Rob Syvertson, Captain of Body Design; Melecio Flores, Team Captain and Pit Crew Chief; Darwin Ramirez, Captain of Driver Training; and Joshua Caldwell, Captain of Social Media. Opposite page, from the team’s first competition.

At Paul Duke STEM High School, their motto is to be trailblazers and make the path for new and creative ideas. That’s exactly what they are doing now, expanding the path of success and building something special with the Paul Duke F24 Racing Team. They are officially the only F24 Racing team in Gwinnett County Public Schools but with future success, they hope to see that change.

The PDS Formula 24 Racing Team got its start in September 2020 when a senior student, Marco Altamirano-Pacheco, approached the Career and Technical Education Co-Chair Stephen Cochran with the idea of starting a race team at Paul Duke STEM High School. Cochran responded with, “If you can find $5,000 then we will start a team.”

A few months later, Altamirano-Pacheco was driving by McDonald’s when he took a picture of a Golden Grant opportunity offered by the fast-food chain, funded by McDonald’s of Greater Atlanta Owners/Operators. This local initiative supports individuals, educators, programs and organizations serving students grades K-12 by assisting in funding for creative and hands-on educational and community-minded projects.

Altamirano-Pacheco and Cochran applied for the grant with the help of parent Tina Budnitz. They were notified in March 2021 that they had won a $10,000 Golden Grant and they promptly purchased the Greenpower Kit. The Greenpower starter kit provided by Greenpower USA F24 allows students grades 6 through 12 to build Formula 24 cars in a team environment and eventually race in competitions.

“A major influence that got me to join was the want to learn more about the mechanics of electric vehicles. I was interested in components of vehicles like motors, chassis, how to maintain the structural integrity of these types of vehicles, and other intricate parts,” Melecio Flores said.

The newly formed team spent the rest of May 2021 building the car, refining the car this summer and spending the first part of this school year getting the car ready for the first competition which was held October 4 in Lafayette, Alabama. The team took 3rd place in the Modified Division.

“The experience has been amazing. My teammates and generally the team as one, have brought me a good time on and off the track; to experience the thrill and adrenaline rush with them is just great and I wouldn’t really be here in this position without their constant effort in the car,” Darwin Ramirez said.

The PDS F24 Racing Team has learned a lot in the course of getting ready to compete and will continue to do so as the program progresses.

“Some challenges that I have faced in the construction of the body would have to be the fabricating of some of the very complex shapes and structures involved with the body design of our car,” Robert Syvertson said. “I overcame these challenges through perseverance, effort, time, and the exploration of different ideas and strategies to construct and design these systems.”

The team has a number of races to prepare for in the new year. To keep up to speed with the PDS F24 Racing team, visit pdsf24racing.com.

Race Schedule

December 4, 2021
Santa Sprints (F24 race)
Columbus, Ga.
January 15, 2022
Oxford Green Prix
Oxford, Al.
February 12, 2022
Columbus Grand Prix
Columbus, Ga.
April 16, 2022

Diverse Power Grand Prix
LaGrange, Ga.

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