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Local Youth, Alexander Hernandez, Recognized with Character Award



Alexander Hernandez

Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce recognizes senior from GIVE Center West High School

Applause was heard as Alexander Hernandez approached the stage in Peachtree Corners’ Atlanta Tech Park.  The accomplished senior from GIVE Center West High School was a special guest for the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce First Friday breakfast, the organization’s signature monthly networking event drawing local business leaders.  A record crowd was in attendance for keynote speaker, Dr. Calvin Watts, Superintendant of Gwinnett County Public Schools.

After a timely and inspiring message from Dr. Watts, the reminder that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders were prevalent-  the perfect segue to recognize a student making a difference in his community.  Not as much because of what he does, but because of who he is.

Hernandez was presented the Chamber’s first Character Award, created to recognize outstanding students whose attitude and actions embody the organization’s mission, passion, and commitment to excellence and community action.   Dr. Donna Bishop, principal of GIVE Center West High School, recommended Alexander Hernandez because of his leadership-  consistently displaying a strong work ethic, desire to learn, care and compassion for others, personal accountability and integrity.  “Alexander models citizenship, fairness, trustworthiness and an incredibly positive attitude.  He goes above and beyond to help his peers and his sense of responsibility guides his actions.  He has a bright future ahead of him,” explains Bishop.

Hernandez serves as a peer leader, works after school with his mom and enjoys tweaking his computer and gaming in his free time.  He aspires to own his own business that helps those in need and positively contributes to the community.  Dr. Charles Hawk, Give West Assistant Principal, praises Alexander for his belief that your upbringing or circumstances are less important than your will and determination to achieve.

The Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce champions the local area as the preferred place for economic opportunity and diverse talent, generating a robust quality of life.  The organization fosters collaboration amongst business leaders to connect, engage and make a difference in the community.  Each month of the school year, the Chamber will recognize a selected student based on the characteristics of:  respect, citizenship, caring, trustworthiness, justice/fairness and responsibility, displayed at home and in the community.  Applications for consideration are available and can be submitted to SWG Chamber of Commerce board member, Mary Beth Bender, at mbender@norcrossga.net.

With thanks to the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce for sharing this story.

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Norcross High School Student Lisa Van Ness named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist



Officials from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of 56 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) semifinalists considered for the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

One of these semifinalists is Lisa Van Ness, a senior at Norcross High School. Van Ness excels in all academic areas but really enjoys her STEM classes. 

Besides her success in the classroom, Van Ness is a member of the school’s color guard for the marching band and has spent three years on the cheer team. 

She is also an accomplished pianist and enjoys dancing, reading and baking in her free time.

Over 1.3 million juniors from 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Van Ness is among 16,000 semifinalists from across the nation competing for National Merit Scholarships worth almost $28 million and offered next spring.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and the high school must submit a detailed scholarship application. 

They must provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, honors and awards. 

A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, a recommendation by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2024 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July 2024.

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Mayor Mason Visits BIA Charter School for Mayor’s Reading Program



On Friday, September 8, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason visited the BIA Charter School to read to the kindergarten class of Meredith Huxtable.

The mayor visited BIA as part of the Mayor’s Reading Club. Launched in August, the program is designed to support literacy skills and early reading success for children in Georgia cities. 

During his visit, the mayor read “Georgia Caroline Visits City Hall,” and answered student questions.  Following his reading of the book, the mayor took part in an interview conducted by the school’s morning news team, that was broadcast to the entire school.

The Mayor’s Reading Club was developed by Georgia City Solutions and is designed to foster partnerships between the city, county, local nonprofits, schools, libraries and businesses. Other elected officials, city staff, youth and community members can participate in the program as guest readers.

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Four Wesleyan School Faculty Members Named GISA Master Teachers



Wesleyan GISA Master Teachers
Top Row from left, Juliette Ball, Paige Glass, bottom row from left, Suzanne Ragains and Laura Riester (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan School.

The Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) recently named four Wesleyan School faculty members GISA Master Teachers.

After completing a comprehensive application process through GISA this past spring, the following teachers were honored:

  • Juliette Ball, lower school lead teacher;
  • Paige Glass, lower school lead teacher;
  • Suzanne Ragains, a high school modern and classical languages teacher and
  • Laura Riester, middle school math teacher.

To be accepted into GISA’s Master Teacher program, candidates must submit a portfolio featuring three examples of outstanding work related to the classroom and collaborating with other educators.

The final part of the application is an unedited video of the candidate’s classroom teaching as well as five letters of recommendation from colleagues, administrators, parents and students.

“We are delighted that GISA has acknowledged the hard work of these committed educators through the Master Teacher program,” said Chris Cleveland, Wesleyan Head of School.

“Juliette, Paige, Suzanne, and Laura are outstanding classroom teachers and have been impacting the lives of Wesleyan students for many years. They are each deserving of this honor.”

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