November 29, 2020

Heard Chamber honors STAR Student and Teacher

HHS Principal Brent Tisdale, Vicki Rogers, 2018 Heard County STAR Student Sarah Grace Rogers, Greg Rogers, and 2018 Heard County STAR Teacher Mr. Eric Vogel (Photo: Debbie O’Neal/Times-Journal)

(Franklin/Times-Journal) — The Heard County Chamber of Commerce hosted the Spring Education Luncheon on March 13 at the Franklin Community Center.

The Spring Luncheon was held to honor Heard County High School Senior, Sarah Grace Rogers as the 2018 Heard County STAR Student.

Sarah Grace is the daughter of Greg and Vicki Rogers from Ephesus. Upon graduation, Sarah Grace plans to attend Georgia Southern and major in Anthropology.

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program was created to focus public attention on Georgia’s outstanding students and the teachers who have influenced their academic development.

Each year a top academic senior in each participating Georgia high school is named the STAR student for that high school. The student must have the highest score on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class.

Heard County High School Principal Brent Tisdale introduced STAR student Sarah Grace Rogers.

Tisdale stated, “One of the best things I get to do in my job is recognize our awesome students and our awesome teachers. Sarah Grace ranked third in her graduating class with a 4.0 cumulative GPA of 98.6.  We are so proud of her.”

He congratulated Sarah Grace’s parents on a job well done at parenting their child. This is their second child to be honored as STAR student.

Sarah Grace thanked everyone for inviting her to the luncheon. She thanked her parents for their support over the years that helped make this moment possible. She stated, “I couldn’t have done it without you!”

Sarah Grace introduced her STAR teacher by saying, “I’m here today with my STAR teacher Mr. Vogel. He’s the band director at Heard County High School, as most of you know. I didn’t just choose him because he’s the band director and I’m a huge band nerd, which I am! I chose him because Mr. Vogel has taught me for the past two years how to be a leader and the importance of commitment and family, even if you’re not related to them. Thank you, Mr. Vogel, for not only teaching me how to march, but how to march forward in life and to do everything I do with passion and pride.”

“I am extremely humbled and very grateful to be selected as STAR teacher this year. Sarah Grace has been the epitome of leadership and has driven our programs to new levels,” said STAR Teacher Eric Vogel.

“We have got to experience great success over the past two years because of our student leaders and Sarah has led the charge in making sure that everyone is leading with great ambition and great pride. She is the example we all strive to be. Being the STAR teacher is kind of strange, it’s like you get to piggy back on someone else’s success. I’m just excited to be in her backpack!”

Mr. Vogel thanked the chamber for honoring Sarah Grace and stated, “She is one of the best students I have ever had!”

Heard County Superintendent, Rodney Kay congratulated both the Star student and the Star teacher for their achievements.

Mr. Kay also addressed school safety at the luncheon stating, “We are committed to the safety of your children.”

He spoke about the many plans in place to keep Heard County students safe. Mr. Kay thanked Heard County law enforcement and Franklin Police Department as well as members of the Board of Education and Heard County EMS for their knowledge on what to do in an emergency and for putting plans in place that will keep our students safe.

He spoke on teaching students about safety with the latest lock down drills and preparing them in case tragedy should happen in our small community.

Mr. Kay stated, “We will continue to research and do what is best for the safety of our kids.”

Assistant Superintendent, Mike Roberts filled in for Heard County Elementary Principal, Paul Mixon, on the highlights of Heard County Elementary School. Mixon was home sick with the flu and unable to attend the luncheon.

Roberts stated, “Heard County Elementary School has had a banner year. In the past 12 months, we have seen an increase in standardized test scores in all subject areas. Our academic improvements have led us to receive our first ever Greatest Gains Award from the Georgia Department of Education.”

“Mr. Mixon has opened the doors for more parents and community involvement by bringing back the Fall Festival where more than a thousand-people attended,” said Roberts. “HCES hosted a Veterans Day Assembly where more than 50 Veterans were honored by Centralhatchee Elementary, Ephesus Elementary and Heard County Elementary Schools in a joint event. Also, their Christmas family luncheon served almost 1100 lunches in just two hours. Tons of parents coming back in the doors of HCES and Mr. Mixon is getting to know those parents better as they get involved in their child’s education.”

“These are just a few wonderful events taking place at HCES and we could not provide the experiences and quality of education the students deserve without the support of the citizens of Heard County and the Board of Education. Nowhere is this more evident in the recent SPLOST purchases made for HCES,” added Roberts. “Over 120 new kindergartener chairs were needed and added. Lab tables and stools for 4th and 5th grade science classrooms. New brightly painted walls, a new digital sign is being installed at the school, 320 new chairs and new lighting for the gym. No single SPLOST has impacted our school as much as Chromebooks. Our teachers are working to incorporate technology into every lesson giving Heard County students a true 21st century education and a leg up in future job markets. A huge thank you to our Board of Education and our citizens for making our school system one of the most supported in the state, and a great source of pride for our community. We could not achieve what we have without your support.”

Melanie Brooks congratulated Sarah Grace and stated, “It warms my heart that you went to Ephesus Elementary School because I am the proud principal of EES.”

She went on to say, “Academically our kids are strong they are working and making strides to achieve grade level benchmarks. Our average reading grade this year across our school is a year and three and a half months and we are proud of that. Writing has been a system incentive and our kids are rising to that challenge. They are becoming better and better writers and authors. We had a young authors’ contest that is system wide and we had some really strong writing pieces that were submitted and selected for that completion.”

Mrs. Brooks spoke on the Chromebooks and having that one on one technology that has opened the door for the students at EES.

She stated, “Children are able to explore and research and have that interaction to the outside world in education. We thank you for having those Chromebooks in our classrooms for daily use. Recently a group of our fourth and fifth graders competed in a Regional Technology Completion. One of our groups was awarded first place in Digital Photography and Video Design. This group competed at state and was awarded 2nd place.”

Mrs. Brooks told how the gifted program is working on a broadcasting video at the school for a morning show on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She stated, “During Christmas Break EES got a facelift paid for by SPLOST. We have been able to install security doors that protect the entrance to our main hallway and cafeteria, where our children are, to make us all the more secure. We also have a new digital sign to keep you informed on things going on at our school. We appreciate all your support! For loving our school, for loving this system and I appreciate having the honor to led EES and to share in this success of Miss Sarah as she is a product of our elementary school. We wish you and your family all the best as you pursue your dreams.”

Centralhatchee Elementary School Principal, Dawn Bennett congratulated Sarah Grace on being awarded STAR Student.

Mrs. Bennett stated, “We are a very high achieving school but most importantly we love our kids!”

She spoke on school safety and how they are working hard to improve it. SPLOST dollars have paid for security doors in the front of the school.

Mrs. Bennett said that each student in grades 3rd – 5th have their own Chromebook and kindergarten – second grade have work stations with Chromebooks as well as two science labs all provided by SPLOST.

Centralhatchee students have Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Resources (STEM) also provided by SPLOST. This summer CES will be getting a new entrance, one for buses and one for cars.

Mrs. Bennett spoke further on Genius Hour at CES. Genius Hour is every Friday. Students choose which club they would like to participate in and the teachers direct them in those clubs.

They change clubs every nine weeks. The clubs include Running, STEM, Circuit Board, Sewing, Cooking, Reading, and Spanish.

Bennett ended with, “Our focus is on relationships and literacy and keeping our students engaged in reading and writing. I invite you all to come visit us. We are a little school with a big heart.”

Principal Brian Hadley from Heard County Middle School spoke next on all the wonderful things going on at the middle school. Hadley also gave thanks for the SPLOST paid Chromebooks.

“The students are using the Chromebooks for Google Docs. Kids can actually type on a document at the same time. Think about the collaboration that they have the brainstorming that they can do. Those are the type of things that they are doing with those Chromebooks in those classrooms. They can even take it one step further and collaboration with other kids out of the classroom. They can get feedback from their principal or superintendent on a paper they have just written. That is awesome!,” said Hadley.

“These things are very important to educate our kids so we need your continued support on these things. The things that are happening at HCMS is awesome I am delighted every day when I come to work! We have some great hard-working students and some awesome teachers! We have been considered one of the best schools in the state.  We’ve been a platinum school FY18 because of what you are doing as parents and as a community. I appreciate all you do! If we can continue to work together as a community, continue to trust one another and become a family we will continue to have one of the best schools in the state!”

Heard County High School Principal Brent Tisdale updated everyone one on the great year HCHS has had.

Tisdale stated, “We hosted the Stateline Showdown for the first time this year. We’ve had a great year in football, only 10 seconds away from playing for a State Championship. We got to play on ESPN. We had our first Veterans Day assembly in years. Our art program is growing. We hosted the FBLA Conference this year. Our clubs are strong. We also have Teen Maze coming up and would love to have volunteers. From a SPLOST stand point, you guys have all been to Heard High. Just drive by the place, it’s amazing! Our stadium is the best stadium that I have ever been in. When we play Hapeville Charter, the first game of the season, we will have a brand-new scoreboard. It is the last piece of Staple Stadium.”

“The list is long from all the benefits from SPLOST dollars at Heard High. Every one of our CTA programs have benefited from SPLOST. According to an article from Chromebook 101, seventy percent of colleges in the United States use Chromebooks. All our kids that choose to go to college will have experience with Chromebooks, Google Doc and Google Sheets,” added Tisdale.

“Out of the almost 300 juniors and seniors that attend Heard High around 30% are currently enrolled in a college class in dual enrollment and receiving free college credits. It is amazing! By next year every one of our core teachers will be certified to teach gifted. We are teaching at a higher level trying to provide opportunities for our kids. I am appreciative of what our Board of Education does to support us. I am thankful to the Chamber of Commerce and the community! We are proud to be Heard County High School and to be a part of this school system!”

Rodney Kay closed by stating, “I would like to recognize the Board of Education. I want you to understand what a difficult job they have. Lots of times there is not a right decision. We’ve had all the success that we’ve had, with the 108th lowest millage rate in the state. It’s incredible! That’s news that needs to be shared! They are very sensitive to the tax payers and that is what they have been elected to do. They are great to work with. This happens to be Board of Education appreciation week and I just wanted to recognize them and let them know we appreciate all you do.”

Renai Brock closed the luncheon by thanking all that attended and stated, “We are blessed to be the local sponsor of STAR Student program.” Brock gave a big “Thank you” to Coweta- Fayetta EMC and Oglethorpe Power for sponsoring the luncheon and Great Events for catering the event.

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