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Cornerstone Christian Academy Students Share Their Gratitude

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A writing exercise provided by Suzanna Trice, Middle School Writing Teacher

This year has been a trial for everyone. We’ve heard that line so many times, from many people. After the first 10 times, we start to ignore it. But that shouldn’t be the case. Plenty of people have grown and changed for the better. For me, being quarantined gave me time to reflect, and grow closer to God and my family. I realized I wasn’t giving these relationships as much attention as I should have. Also, I’ve become much more confident and productive by overcoming the struggle of solitary situations such as digital learning or missing my friends and family.
— Kelsey Brown, 7th Grade

2020 has been a tough year, but God has provided through the storm. I would like to take a moment to reflect on those blessings. I am in person at school with a group of Christians that are all going through the same things. God has given me a stable home life that made living through COVID slightly more bearable. None of my family has been infected with the sickness yet, and for that I am grateful. God’s grace has given me a light to search for through the chaos of the pandemic.
— Rett Bush, 7th Grade

2020 has been a questionable year and not a favorite of mine, and I’m sure, many others. There are many things I take for granted like having a basketball hoop that I play on with my friend every day while all the gyms are closed, and some people can’t hoop. Most importantly, though, is having amazing parents that love me and care for me every day.
— George Thompson, 7th Grade

Between having hours on end to spend with my family, building forts and baking pumpkin bread, I have experienced true joy through a broken world. At the beginning, I felt alone and wanted to go back to school, but as the weeks went on, I realized that the pandemic had given me the opportunity to look at the world with a new perspective. Before I would complain about a small inconvenience, but the pandemic allowed me to grow up and see the struggles of others.
— Julia Jackovich, 8th Grade

I have had a very boring year so far this year, but 2020 has also made me realize how many different things I should be more thankful for. A few of these things are having friends that live nearby, having an energetic dog running around with me, having a brother and sister that care about me and give me new ideas of ways to spend my time. Our relationships have gotten much closer. Also, being able to play soccer is something that is very important to me. I have really enjoyed these gifts that have been given to me.
— Clara Allen, 7th Grade

L-R, Madeline Smith and Rachael Samples

My blessing this year was realizing how many things I take things for granted. During the time that I was in virtual school, I realized how much I appreciate the teacher being right there to help me. Being back in school, I can say that having the teacher right there really impacts the way you can learn. I am so thankful for all the staff at my school and the opportunity to be a part of this school.
— Rachael Samples, 8th Grade

For me, the quarantine meant that we had to leave our home in New York and travel to various different places until we found our home in Georgia. The first place we stopped was an apartment in D.C. While we were there we took various hikes and walks to relieve stress and get exercise, and it made me think about how much I took for granted and how much I am grateful to have a safe and reliable place to stay with a warm bed and to have family and friends that support me throughout my life.
— Christian Richards, 8th Grade

Christian Richards and sister.

Even through this pandemic and our mess of a world has created a sense of chaos, we can still find blessings within it. God has given us a wonderful community. I was able to attend some get-togethers in the community with my family. It was not only the Scripture that was shared at these outings, it was the slight sense of normalcy. We all needed to see others again. I was one of the lucky ones this 2020. Of course, this year has been a struggle for everyone, but it has brought not only my family, but the community closer.
— Griffin Hackett, 8th Grade

Since the coronavirus outbreak, this year happened at home. School, conversations, church and much more were all on the computer screen. Quarantine has made me a lot more grateful for the little things. For example, I was not very grateful for school. I didn’t like the challenging assignments or waking up early, but once school was taken away, I realized what a blessing going to school is. I am extremely grateful to be going back to school in person with my friends.
— Hannah Hightower, 7th Grade

I am immensely blessed to have such good friends that kept in touch nearly every day during coronavirus. I am extremely thankful that my dad kept his job and hired other people too. I am very, very thankful that we are going to school in person which is a ginormous blessing. Peachtree Corners is doing great keeping coronavirus away and keeping everyone safe. Most of all, I am thankful for my family who helped me through COVID-19 and overall made me a better person. I just want to thank everyone for helping me through this pandemic.
— Cole Creel, 7th Grade

The thing I am most grateful for in 2020 is my family. They provide me with a roof over my head, my favorite meal of steak and potatoes, and a shoulder to cry on when I’m in doubt. They love me more than I could ever imagine. God gave me a family that I should treasure, not take for granted. Even when I want to argue with them, I need to take a step back and remember that I have a family who will always be there for me.
— Chloe Nylund, 7th Grade

Ben Hester’s Aussalier

2020 has been a challenging year, but it has been great in some ways too. For me, it was a great year because my family now owns a lake house with two of my best friends ever. Another blessing is that this has been a big year of progression for me in terms of sports. Finally, we are about to get a hyper new puppy called an Aussalier.
— Ben Hester, 7th Grade

2020 has been an eye-opening year for me. The community has done an outstanding job cleaning and keeping the parks in great condition. I also enjoyed kayaking down the Chattahoochee River and spending more time at local parks and recreational areas. The park system has provided my family with many memories. When I think about the trauma of 2020, I will also remember the parks and this community.
— Juliette Dill, 7th Grade

For me, my teachers and mentors have truly poured into me and enriched my life. Whenever I make a poor decision, these wonderful people in my life correct me in a way that will direct me not to make that choice again. Teaching me academically is another way they have impacted my life. My teachers at school have really helped my academic success, and my parents guide me in many different scenarios. These people are helping to make me a better person, and I am truly thankful for that.
— Madeline Austin, 7th Grade

I am thankful for my family. When people say, “you never know you love something so much til it is lost,” believe them. Because of taking care of our grandparents’ safety and ours, we haven’t been able to see them as much. I love my family, but I never knew how much. We have taken turns calling my great grandmother almost every night in quarantine. Not only has she been able to tell the history of our family, but we have also been able to connect on a closer level. I strongly believe God has done this for a reason.
— Sadie Archibald, 7th Grade

My grandparents moved down with us and we had to be completely quarantined. During this time, I was mad but then I realized that we were together, unlike other families. So I made the best of it. We went to Simpsonwood Park and hiked until other people showed up. I started cooking and felting. We did lots of family events like eating dinner together. We truly were able to grow closer together.
— Avery Melendez, 7th Grade

Caroline Trice

This pandemic has taught me that I’m thankful for an excellent life. The ability to be alive, healthy and safe is a blessing. I’m thankful for the gift of love. When others love you, you feel special and when you love others, you feel excellent about yourself. There will be bad things in life but there will also always be good things. It’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy.
— Caroline Trice, 7th Grade

This year, my dad found his biological family. He was adopted by my grandparents, who were right by his side the whole way. My dad found his mom (Momma Jean), his half-sister (Mallory) and many aunts, uncles and cousins. While others saw tragedy in 2020, we saw God’s fingerprints. My dad has the date he decided to let God control his life tattooed on his arm, which turns out to be Mallory’s birthday. My dad and Mallory even have the same last name. God showed us his power through these hard times, and I am forever grateful for that.
— Ella Floyd, 8th Grade

I wasn’t really great at making good friends, so I always struggled. I was coming out of a toxic friendship and I wasn’t doing the best. Thankfully, over our time at home, I got closer with a girl named Maya, and she helped me realize that I don’t need to worry about what others think.
— Avery Hoffstedder, 7th Grade

Yes, it may be hard during these stressful times, but we have to make the most of it! We should be grateful for our families, that we have a roof over our heads and that we can get a nice, warm, delicious meal! We can also be grateful that we can still see our friends, it may be on a screen, but we should still be grateful. We should thank the Lord that we can still get through this! I hope everyone has a great day and everyone stays safe.
— Eliana T.

Gurbani Family

In this world, there’s good and bad. 2020 hasn’t been amazing, but there are some great things that have happened. I am thankful that I have an amazing family. They have comforted and loved me in these uncertain times. I’m also thankful that I’ve gotten to stay home and be safe. I’m grateful that my school is open so I can learn and be with my friends. We have some amazing doctors out there, too. In these times a mask helps, but a gun does not. Washing our hands helps, but fighting doesn’t. Let’s stick together and get through this!!
— Gurbani C.

2020 has been kind of tough. I think we can all agree on that. But through the restrictions and masks, there is actually a whole lot to be grateful for. From houses to water to the magazine you’re reading right now, there are a lot of things we take for granted! Lots of people have no food, drink, shelter or the smartphone that most adults use all the time! So put down the phone and take some time to think about all the things you have with your friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Much love readers!
— Jackson W.

Jack W. and family

During 2020, I’ve experienced so much fun, fear, pain and many adventures. I’ve experienced things like broken bones and digital learning. I know that some people have lost their jobs. This year was hard, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do much! COVID-19 has affected so many people. Even still, I am thankful for being able to come back to school and peoples’ jobs coming back. So my blessing is that people get well, people stay safe and that you stay healthy.
— KaileyAnn K.

KelleyAnn K and family

In 2020, anything can happen. We all know it’s not the most quality year, but there is a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for getting to go to school and see all my friends. Almost everything is a privilege. We should be thankful for those around us! A lot of people have lost their jobs and that makes everything a little harder. I’m thankful for my family. I’m also thankful for my mask, pets and hand sanitizer!
— Lawson P.

I have many blessings,
too many to count.
I have so many blessings I might have to recount.
The nature that God provided was more than I needed.
When searching for a new sport, we succeeded.
Volleyball added some joy during coronavirus.
COVID-19 has made our life desirous.
We still found a way to meet up with friends.
Even while following what the law intends.
This is the end of my blessings for now.
Have a good day. ¡Chao!
— a poem by
Lacie Jones, 7th Grade

The extra time we’ve had
Having an awesome time
And fooling around
Night and day and also
Knowledge matters so we can have
Fun in digital school and an
Ultimate time during summer break in this
Lively year.
— a poem by Joshua S.

*Read more thankful messages from the community by clicking this link.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’

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On Feb. 1, the young authors Megan and Mackenzie Grant released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”
Megan and Mackenzie Grant

Berkeley Lake second graders make fans across the globe with sweet children’s story.

When rescue dog Apollo found his forever home with Megan and Mackenzie Grant, the Berkeley Lake twins knew they had added a special member to the family. He’s so beloved that he’s considered their “four-legged brother.”

Apollo is a Boston terrier. The breed is known for its friendliness and love of people and children. According to the Purina Company, makers of all kinds of pet food, Boston terriers  make affectionate pets and are outgoing and social. 

While they are called ‘terriers,’ they are not in the terrier group, nor do they behave like them. They are far happier at home with their owner than getting into the usual mischief. 

But Megan and Mackenzie see him as a silly addition to the family.

“He’s super cool because he’s always up for fun and loves us a whole bunch. And guess what? We love him back even more! He’s like the best friend ever, wagging his tail and making everything awesome!” they said in a press release.

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

As his first birthday approached, the girls, six years old at the time, wanted his day to be special.

“I said, ‘Well if you want to come up with something to do, let’s write it out,’” said mom Tameka Womack.  “So they started writing out all these different adventures, and it was so cute.”

Megan recalled that their teacher had told them about someone who had published a book, and she asked if they could, too.

“When I read through it, they had all the different things, like playing dress up because we had bought some clothes for him. And we take them out for long walks around the lake and stuff,”  Womack added.

Although their favorite subjects in school are PE and art, they did such a good job with the tale that Tameka worked with them to get it published. On Feb. 1, the young authors released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”

Publishing success

The 30-page book took off almost immediately. Available for print and digital through Amazon and print editions through Barnes & Noble, the book has reached customers in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy,  Poland and throughout the U.S.

The girls and their mom were so pleased and surprised to find out the book was No. 1 in its category on Amazon.

“They were just so excited that people actually bought the book,” said Womack. “They were just like, ‘Wow, who is buying this?’”

Feedback from fellow twins, animal lovers and teachers showed that the story resonated on many levels.

“As an educator, I am always on the lookout for diverse and inclusive literature for my students. ‘How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother’ not only captivated the imaginations of the children in my class but also served as a wonderful conversation starter about friendship, empathy and the beauty of diversity,” wrote Ashleigh Darby.

The royalties from book sales are tucked away, with a percentage going to Apollo’s wardrobe.

“He won’t go out in the rain without his raincoat … or out in the winter without his sweater,” said Womack. “We have a little budget for his clothes because every time the girls see something, they’re like, ‘Oh, I think Apollo will like it.’  I’m like, I think he would too, but let’s let it stay in the store.”

Nurturing creativity

Although both mom and dad are engineers and kind of hoped that the twins would follow in their footsteps, Womack said she’s okay with them being artistic and creative.

“Writing is teaching them some responsibility and teaching them a little bit about money,” she said. “Now they want to write a book every day.”

Between raising three daughters (the twins have an older teenage sister), running a household with her husband and keeping up with her career at Georgia Tech, Womack said she’ll look for time to continue helping the girls with their dreams.

“With summer coming up, I would definitely encourage parents to help their children explore their creativity in any kind of way, from digging holes in the ground to … seeing the world … to creating books instead of being on the internet,” said Womack. I try to limit my kids’ screen time … and build real memories.”

Find “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother” on Amazon.

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session

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(left to right) Dale Russell, Rep. Ruwa Romman and Rep. Scott Hilton // Photos by George Hunter

Hilton, Romman trade friendly banter that reflects diverse views in Georgia government

Georgia State House District 97 Representative Ruwa Romman and District 48 Representative Scott Hilton, whose constituents include parts of Southwest Gwinnett County, including Peachtree Corners, sat down for a second time to share information about legislative action at the State Capital

Their discussion was part of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast series at Atlanta Hilton Northeast.

Although they sit on opposite sides of the aisle, Hilton and Romman both seek to sponsor and pass legislation that improves and maintains a high quality of life in the Peach State and provides its residents with what they need. 

Elected in 2022, this was Romman’s sophomore year in the State House. She serves on the Georgia House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, Georgia House Information and Audits Committee and Georgia House Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

Hilton previously served in the State House from 2017 to 2019 but took a “sabbatical,” as he calls it, to serve as executive director for the Georgians First Commission under the Office of Governor Brian Kemp

He was re-elected to his current position in 2022. He is the vice chair of the Georgia House Creative Arts and Entertainment Committee and the Georgia House Education Committee, as well as a member of the Georgia House Public Health Committee and the Committee on Georgia House Urban Affairs.

Senate Bill 63

The moderator, Norcross resident and former WAGA political reporter Dale Russell started off with a topic making headlines: Senate Bill 63. This law, signed by Gov. Kemp shortly after the session ended, prohibits charities, individuals or groups from providing bail funds for more than three people per year unless they register as bonding agencies. It also expands mandatory cash bail to 30 new offenses.

“I think it’s going to bring home safety to the community,” said Hilton. “I ran on that issue because as I was knocking on doors, I’ve heard from folks who [want to] keep our community safe. And unfortunately, no community has been immune from the uptick in crime that we had seen post-COVID, so this was one of those bills in response to that.”

Hilton gave examples of crimes where individuals out on bail committed acts such as murder.

“That was our commitment back to our constituents to say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to let bad guys back out onto the streets again to do more crime.’ This bill was in response to this; it’s going to keep our community safe, hold those accountable and bring justice to those who break the law,” Hilton remarked. 

“Unfortunately, right now, we’ve got district attorneys and sheriffs across Georgia who are blatantly disregarding the law and letting folks back out on the streets who pose, you know, safety risks to law-abiding citizens like you and I and your businesses,” he continued.

Russel pointed out that there’s been a lot of criticism of this law. 

“The ACLU was totally against it. Some felt like it was imprisoning poor people in the sense, for minor crimes,” he said.

“I do agree with the criticism for a few reasons,” said Romman. 

“The problem with this bill is that of the 30 crimes that are listed as now requiring a cash bail, the majority of them don’t actually require jail time, even if you’re found guilty of them. So now, somebody who would not even have ever served time for those crimes that are listed could now serve jail time because they cannot afford their bail,” she explained.

She added that the law doesn’t address the crimes it’s supposed to protect citizens from.

“We see these headlines, but this bill doesn’t address those because what we see happening is that a lot of churches now will no longer be able to bail people out that cannot afford their bail because of this bill,” she said.

“And churches that have been trying to, for example, reunite a parent with their children for Christmas, or whatever the case may be, can no longer do that. There is actually an exception written into this bill for bail bondsmen. So, it’s not like being able to pay cash bail is completely out of the question. It just means that somebody can make money off of it now,” Romman continued.

Hilton said the state isn’t done with addressing public safety issues as they come up.

“I know that’s been a priority of the governor, and I think rightfully so; you know, there’s a reason we’ve got citizens flocking to Georgia over the last ten years; we’ve added a million Georgians to our state, and they are leaving states with policies that don’t have this. They’re coming to Georgia for economic prosperity, for safety and for good schools,” said Hilton.

House Bill 1105

Another controversial bill, HB 1105, is framed as a public safety bill that requires local enforcement to coordinate with federal immigration officials when someone in custody is suspected of being in the country illegally. 

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

“I know that the federal administration is trying to tell us there’s not a crisis. But there is a humanitarian crisis going on right now on our southern border.  … But they’re not handling it the right way, and it’s starting to impact our communities,” said Hilton.

“We’ve got sheriffs who have folks in their custody, who [need] to be reported up to ICE. And essentially, they’re sort of ignoring what’s in the law right now that says you got to report these folks,” he explained.

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

“Again, when you read the contents of the bill, that is, unfortunately, not what it does,” she said. “I’m one of the few, if not the only, member of the legislature that’s done any border project work,” she remarked.

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

“I want to remind people that when we talk about immigration, there’s an entire spectrum of people that we are talking about. And it’s not just at the border, it’s also people that fly into our country legally, that gets narrowed into a terrible immigration system,” Romman said.

“It forces our state and county and city police to do federal-level work without more funding. What we’re doing is we’re actually adding an increased burden, essentially onto their workload that we are not paying for. And in addition, within this bill, if they do not do this, they could lose more funding.”

She added that this will take the police away from focusing on local issues and trying to work with people who live in their communities.

“If a community member feels like if they reach out to police for help, and the police are going to deport them, they are less likely to report crimes and less likely to work with our local police department,” Romman said. “If we’re serious about immigration and its relationship to crime, immigrants are 30% less likely to commit crimes, and I don’t want to vilify an entire group of people.”

Romman said she supports a holistic, three-pronged approach that includes improving conditions on the border and pathways to citizenship.

Business-related legislation

When the smoke cleared, both Hilton and Romman joked that they had different opinions about many issues but agreed that’s a healthy part of how the government works. 

“The fact that we do disagree and the fact that you, the community, have varying choices and options out there. I think it’s a healthy part of the process,” said Hilton. “And we do have fun. I was telling somebody we play kickball about halfway through the session, and we do get along.”

The discussion moved on to topics such as the FTC ruling on non-compete clauses and tort reform, which just about everyone in the room agreed upon. Although employees could see the beauty of disallowing non-compete clauses, as business owners, they’d hate to see trade secrets put in jeopardy or valuable time and money put into training to benefit another company. 

And everyone wanted to see caps on personal injury claims for things like slip-and-falls and fleet vehicle accidents.

“One of the few regrets I have coming out of session is that we didn’t do more on tort reform,” said Hilton. “Right now, Georgia is the number one judicial hellhole in the nation, meaning that we have more lawsuits on businesses and payouts than anywhere else in the country.”

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

“I don’t think this is a left or right issue,” said Romman. “I want to make sure that whatever tort reform we pursue does not let, for example, a bad-acting company off the hook. But on the flip side, if somebody is just going around and suing everybody all the time to try and make some money off of it, how do you protect corporations and businesses from those kinds of bad incidents litigation?”

“What I will continue to look for when it comes to tort reform is, how are we going about balancing that?” she added.

Looking ahead

As the session wrapped, Romman and Hilton pointed out legislation they’d like to see move forward next year.

“House Bill 971 creates a $300 tax credit for taxpayers who sign up for firearm safety training or purchase a safe storage device. It’s a bipartisan measure, viewed by some as a small but perhaps significant move for gun safety advocates, which was tabled in the Senate room,” said Romman. 

She said the bill wouldn’t even require someone to disclose that they owned a firearm, but it was meant to incentivize people to store their firearms properly.

“There wasn’t a lot of appetite if somebody didn’t properly store their gun to have consequences for that, so we thought it would just incentivize better behavior,” she said.

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

“Over the last three years, every single school in Georgia has gotten a one-time $100,000 grant for School Safety. That’s every school in Georgia; in this most recent budget, we included $45,000 in recurring money for every school in the state to do whatever they want to ensure their campuses are safe,” he said. This includes private schools as well.

At the end of the event, Hilton and Romman reminded the audience that they weren’t running against each other, and even though their views were different, their goals for a better Georgia were equally as passionate.

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground

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Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration. 
Photos by Dorie Liu

On Friday, May 10, 2024, the City of Peachtree Corners held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony of its new space-themed Tot Lot Playground on Town Green.

Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration.  This new play area includes a rocket ship, a moon rover, a crashed UFO and other fun designs. It was also created to be fully accessible, ensuring all children can enjoy it.

During the ribbon-cutting, children and their guardians enjoyed fun activities, including an ice cream truck, bubble lady, balloon animals, face painting and even a visit from Buzz Lightyear.

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