By Doug Gross (Patch Staff) - March 1, 2017
DOUGLASVILLE, GA — All five public high schools in Douglas County have been named 2017 Advanced Placement STEM Schools by the Georgia Department of Education.
Schools on this list have students who test in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses. There were 204 high schools in Georgia named AP STEM Schools.
Also, Alexander High School and Chapel Hill High School were named 2017 AP Humanities Schools. To earn this distinction, schools must have students testing in the following AP courses: at least one ELA course, two social science courses, one fine arts course, and one world language course. There were 149 high schools in Georgia named 2017 AP Humanities Schools.
"In addition to increasing the number of students taking AP courses, Douglas County is focused on increasing the number of students who score a 3, 4, or 5 on AP exams," said Pam Nail, chief academic officer for the Douglas County School System. "We were happy to see an 11 percentage point increase in the number of students scoring in this range from 2015 to 2016."
Scores of 3 and higher are accepted as college credit by most colleges.
"We are proud to have students not only taking these challenging courses but also taking the strenuous AP tests at the end of the school year," said Superintendent Gordon Pritz. "We are also proud that Lithia Springs High School has taken STEM to the next level by recently earning the internationally recognized STEM certification by AdvancED. Lithia is the only high school in Georgia with both state and national STEM certification."
Feb 27, 2017
Lithia Springs High School is the first Georgia high school to earn certification of its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program at both state and national levels, the school district announced.
The high school in northeast Douglas County recently received educational accreditation agency AdvanceEd’s certification, which is an internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM schools and programs, stated a news release from the Douglas County School System.
The certification indicates that Lithia Springs has demonstrated a commitment to preparing students for educational and career opportunities of the future, the release stated. It also is committed to providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in postsecondary pursuits and in the workforce in the 21st century economy, the release stated.
The school previously earned state STEM certification from the Georgia Department of Education.
Lithia Springs STEM Coordinator Payton Millinor said school officials were “proud to not only be the only state and AdvancED STEM-certified high school in the state of Georgia” but to also “one of the most diverse.”
In order to earn national STEM certification, Lithia Springs had to demonstrate adherence to the AdvancED STEM standards as reflected by the school’s performance in 11 STEM indicators. The certification process provides an evaluation and improvement process supported by research-based tools and resources.
Achieving high scores across the indicators certify that students have been equipped and trained to be innovative, creative, and systematic problem-solvers across disciplines, the release stated.
AdvancED’s STEM certification team also reviewed evidence of the quality of the school’s STEM program, conducted classroom observations and interviewed school administrators, faculty, parents, students, and business partners to verify the school’s commitment to connecting STEM experiences in the classroom to the local community and world at large.
Millinor said, “These certifications reflect the dedication and commitment of our teachers, parents, and partners to preparing the students of Douglas County with the relevant skills, and meaningful and deep learning experiences that will dominate the workforce of tomorrow.
“Furthermore, a quality STEM education can help to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps of today’s math and science fields. STEM is the future, and our STEM Academy graduates enter their post-secondary endeavors as confident, innovative thinkers and problem solvers who will lead their generation,” Millinor said.
“STEM certification will continue to uphold our school to high standards while providing a clear roadmap for us to continuously improve our STEM disciplines and program.”
Superintendent Gordon Pritz said the STEM magnet program at Lithia Springs “is an outstanding opportunity for students across the county who are passionate about these subjects.
“We are proud of all the students, teachers, and administrators who have contributed to the complete turnaround of Lithia Springs High School over the last five to six years,” he said, in reference to the school’s formerly routinely poor results in standardized testing and other academic areas.
The state had identified Lithia Springs as a Priority School in 2011 after it lagged behind state and national benchmarks for years, according to an article published on the National Association of Secondary School Principals web site. A Priority School is among the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in terms of academic achievement.
However, it later received a $6 million state School Improvement Grant which led to installing the STEM program, increasing teacher and student support and improving its test scores significantly.
The school continues to be rated low for School Climate, a state measure which "refers to the quality and character of school life" and is "reflective of the patterns of the students, parents and school personnel’s experience of school life." School district officials noted the the rating does not include any safety issues at the school.
By Sara Ray
Lithia Springs High School (LSHS) in February became the first high school in Georgia to earn both state and national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) certification. AdvancED STEM Certification is the first internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM schools and programs. The certification indicates that LSHS has demonstrated a commitment to preparing students for educational and career opportunities of the future and providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in postsecondary pursuits and in the workforce in the 21st century economy. LSHS had previously earned state STEM certification through the Georgia Department of Education.
“The STEM magnet program at Lithia is an outstanding opportunity for students across the county who are passionate about these subjects,” said Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz. “We are proud of all the students, teachers, and administrators who have contributed to the complete turnaround of Lithia Springs High School over the last five to six years.”
In order to earn national STEM certification, Lithia Springs High School had to demonstrate adherence to the AdvancED STEM Standard as reflected by the school’s performance across 11 rigorous STEM Indicators. The certification process provides a rigorous evaluation and continuous improvement process, supported by research-based tools and resources. Achieving high scores across the indicators certify that students have been equipped and trained to be innovative, creative, and systematic problem-solvers across disciplines.
“We are proud to not only be the only state and AdvancED STEM Certified High School in the state of Georgia, but to also be one of the most diverse. These certifications reflect the dedication and commitment of our teachers, parents, and partners to preparing the students of Douglas County with the relevant skills, and meaningful and deep learning experiences that will dominate the work-force of tomorrow. Furthermore, a quality STEM education can help to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps of today’s math and science fields. STEM is the future, and our STEM Academy graduates enter their post-secondary endeavors as confident, innovative thinkers and problem solvers who will lead their generation,” said Payton Millinor, STEM Coordinator. “STEM certification will continue to uphold our school to high standards while providing a clear roadmap for us to continuously improve our STEM disciplines and program.”
AdvancED’s STEM certification team reviewed evidence of the quality of the STEM program at LSHS, conducted classroom observations, and interviewed school administrators, faculty, parents, students, and business partners to verify the school’s commitment to connecting STEM experiences in the classroom to the local community and world at large.
About the Lithia Springs High School STEM Academy
The STEM program at Lithia Springs High School was established in 2011 to provide the students of Douglas County the opportunity to pursue a specialized education in biomedical science, computer science, and engineering. With a problem-based approach to cross-disciplinary learning, an environment of advanced studies and high expectations is ensured by quality teachers, effective instruction, cross-curricular planning, competitive courses of study, and technology-driven, academically-based extra-curricular activities. The rigor is accompanied by service learning projects, continual student support, and quality internships. Lithia Springs STEM Academy strives to improve the world via science and service. For more information about the LSHS STEM Academy visit www.lshsstem.com.
Feb 22, 2017
Two former classmates now at different schools ended up tied for Douglas County’s annual STAR Student award this year.
Seniors Erica Bressner of Douglas County High School and Brandon Lindstrom of Lithia Springs High School will share the Douglas school district STAR Student award after they were announced as system winners recently at a meeting of the Douglas County Rotary Club.
Both formerly were enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at Douglas County High.
Lindstrom went on to seek a different path in computer science in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program at Lithia Springs. Bressner remained at Douglas County High and owns a 4.0 grade point average.
The education advocacy group Professional Association of Georgia Educators sponsors the STAR student program statewide, while the Douglas County Rotary Club sponsors it localls. Students earn the award if they have the highest score on the SAT college entrance exam within the public school district in which their school is located.
The winners, who must be in the top 10 percent of their classes, also select a teacher “most instrumental in their academic development” as their STAR Teacher. Bressner selected IB English teacher Shea St. John while Lindstrom selected Advanced Placement calculus teacher Keenan Lee.
Bressner, the daughter of Niels and Shelly Roberts Bressner, said she knew she had a high SAT score but was unsure if it was the highest, given the large number of high-achieving students in the school’s IB program.
She downplayed receiving the award, though she added she was “pretty competitive” and was glad to receive the honor.
“My parents were happy,” she said. “It’s nice to go on a resume.”
The senior, who plans to attend the University of Georgia, is up for the Bernard Ramsey Honors Scholarship and the UGA Foundation Scholarship, she said.
She said she chose St. John as her STAR Teacher because of the IB English teacher’s professionalism and because she “pushes” her students to work at a high level.
“She treats her job like it should be treated,” Bressner said.
St. John, who has taught English for 21 years in four counties, taught Bressner in IB English in her junior year. She noted Bressner is ranked first in her class at Douglas County High.
“She has the ability to analyze the most complex pieces of literature,” St. John said.
Bressner also takes classes in upper-level math and has taken classes in French for five years and Spanish for four years, St. John said.
“If (Bressner) gets something she’s passionate about, there’s no telling what she can do,” the teacher said.
Lindstrom, son of Tim and Carol Lindstrom, said he was “really surprised” he won the award. He said he was happy to share it with Bressner because he knew her from his time as an IB student at Douglas County High before his move to Lithia Springs.
The senior called himself “a big computer nerd” and became interested in both computers and gaming after playing computer games with his father while growing up.
He said he planned to attend Georgia Tech and major in computer engineering, which focuses more on computer hardware than on software.
Lindstrom said he chose Lee as his STAR Teacher because the calculus teacher “pushed me” to achieve more than he would without such motivation.
“I’m not always excited about school,” Lindstrom said.
Lee, who is in his fifth year as a teacher, said he was “extremely proud of Brandon.”
“He’s extremely bright in math,” Lee said. “He is extremely logical and analytical. He takes charge of math like I’ve never seen before.”
All county winners will move on to the program’s regional competition with winners from nine other counties March 15 at Griffin Welcome Center in Griffin. The statewide winner will be announced April 24 in Duluth.
31 projects and 36 students have advanced to the Regional Science & Engineering Fair from both middle school and high school levels.
Damita Thomas (Patch Staff) - January 30, 2017
From Douglas County School District: Middle and high school student scientists from around the county competed in the Douglas County Science and Engineering Fair on January 19. With projects titled “Does changing the angle of attack affect the flight and lift of the butterfly?” and “Investigating the Viability of E. coli and A. aceti in Simulated Venus Environment” and “Dog Toys: Like or Dislike?,” the science and engineering fair covered a plethora of topics.
“We are proud that 31 projects and 36 students will advance to the Regional Science and Engineering Fair,” said Pam Walker, Lead School Improvement Specialist for Science in the Douglas County School System. “This is the most we have ever sent.” Students whose projects placed first or second, including the Best in Show projects, will advance to the West Georgia Regional Science and Engineering Fair on February 10 at the University of West Georgia.
At the high school level, Devika Dutt from Douglas County High School won Best in Show in the Science category for her project “Demystifying Antioxidants Using Spectroscopy and Electrochemistry.” Her science teacher is Robert Bennett. Kenneth Thomas from Lithia Springs High School won Best in Show in the Engineering/Technology category for his project “Terror Prevention: Innovating, Integrating & Improving Avionic Security.” His science teacher is Darren Rager.
At the middle school level, Rijul Patel from Chapel Hill Middle School won Best in Show in the Science category for his project “How Can Magnets Be Used to Create Clean Electricity?” His science teacher is Chris Baxley. Sisters Georgia and Ella Stinchcomb won Best in Show in the Engineering/Technology category for “Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle: Circulating and Removing Gases from a Car’s Interior.” Their science teachers are Chris Baxley and Cheronda Minnis-Arnold.
“We were thrilled with the quality of projects this year,” commented Ms. Walker. “Last year many of our students took top state honors at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, and we are hopeful that we will have another good showing in the spring. Our emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is making our students skilled scientists and problem solvers at the middle and high school levels.”
Each middle and high school held a school-wide science fair where projects were judged by a panel of teachers. Students with the top school projects advanced to the county-wide fair on January 19 where they were interviewed by a panel of judges about their project.
The following students placed first at the middle school level: Science category -- Rijul Patel, Kyle Vanderweit, Alexa Robles, and Miller Lovegrove. Engineering/Technology category -- Michael Tyler, Aysif Juman, Georgia Stinchcomb, and Ella Stinchcomb.
The following students placed second at the middle school level: Science category – Ebony Golden, Isabella Naile, Rebecca Spoor, Camryn Curtis, Quincey Swann, Britton Collins, Andrew Manchiraju, Kelsey Simmons, and Miles Joseph. Engineering/Technology category – Sammi Zhu, Alexander Kuiper, Roxy Bridges, and Andrea Torres-Wilcken.
The following students placed first at the high school level: Science category – Blair Cowan, Nicholas Gorzynski, Ayesha Saeed, Michael Manchiraju, and Devika Dutt. Engineering/Technology category – Chase Cooper, Cordell Palmer, Jaden Lamar, Anthony Russo, Kenneth Thomas, and Sebastian Torres-Wilcken.
The following students placed second at the high school level: Science category – Hope Lee, Ethan Key, Carlae Chasten, and Shermar Frazier. Engineering/Technology category – Tiffany Numa, Tyler Numa, Peter Oyekunie, Ruben Veliz, and Brandon Lindstrom.
Congratulations to the 1st & 2nd Place science fair winners!
Kenneth T., Terror Prevention: Innovating, Integrating, & Improving Avionic Security
Sebastian T., Efficient Metal Recycling
Cordell P., Reco the Robot
Jaden L. & Anthony R., Text Neck
Blair C. & Nicholas G., Investigating the Viability of E. coli and A. aceti in a Simulated Venus Environment
Tiffany N. & Tyler N., Cool It Down
Alaina W. & Samantha T., Drink Spiking
Ronan P., A Helping Hand
Brandon L., Hit the Club: Club Organization App
Christopher V., LED Signaling Helmet
Alex B., Using Bump Sensors on Robots
Antoine J., Bump-N-Boxes
Hope L., Digging Up the Hidden Truth
Shanice M., Solar-vs-Wind
Chase C., Trucker's Arm
Ansley R. & Tiersly W., Moving Colors
Jordan T., A Marble's Potential
Lauren M., Microbial Beauties
Peter O. & Ruben V., Stick'Em Glove Glue
Congratulations to Daniel Knight, a 10th grade French horn player and STEM student, who passed the first audition for All-State Band. The second and final audition takes place In January. He also made first chair for District Honor Band for GMEA District 7, which is all of NW Georgia.
Joel Scott, a 11th Grader at Lithia Springs High School of Douglas County, was a Delegate to the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Lowell, MA on June 29th - July 1st, 2016.
The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who are passionate about science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). The purpose of this event is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be scientists and technologists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.
Joel Scott was nominated by the first winner of the Google Science Fair Shree Bose, Academic Director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists to represent Georgia based on his academic achievement, leadership potential and passion for science and technology.
During the three-day Congress, Joel Scott joined students from across the country and heard Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading scientific research; was given advice from deans of the world's top tech universities; was inspired by fellow teen science prodigies; and learned about cutting-edge advances and the future of science and technology.
"This is a crucial time in America when we need more nimble-minded and creative scientists and technologists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, Executive Director, National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists. “Focused, bright and determined students like Joel Scott are our future and he deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give him.”
The Academy offers free services and programs to students who have the desire to learn more about their future in science or technology. Some of the services and programs the Academy offers include online social networks through which these future scientists and technologists can communicate; opportunities for students to be guided and mentored by tech and science leaders; and communications for parents and students on college acceptance and finances, skills acquisition, internships, career guidance and much more.
The Academy was founded on the belief that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education plays a critical role in enabling the United States to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century and that we must identify prospective talent at the earliest possible age and help these students acquire the necessary experience and skills to take them to the doorstep of vital careers. Based in Washington, DC and with an office in Boston, MA, the Academy was chartered as a nonpartisan, taxpaying institution to help address this crisis by working to identify, encourage and mentor students who wish to devote their lives to advances in society as scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians
Students at Lithia Springs High STEM Academy work with Payton Millinor (second from left), the academy coordinator. The program, launched five years ago at the Douglas County school, helped boost the graduation rate from 55 to almost 90 percent.
Making the Grade: High school turned academics from worse to first
12:53 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016 | Filed in: Local News
For the AJC
Five years ago, when Garrick Askew arrived at Lithia Springs High as the new principal, the Douglas County school of 1,500 students was a very different place.
“It was one of the lowest-performing Title One schools in the state, in the lowest 5 percent,” he said. “Our reduced-lunch population was about 78 percent. The graduation rate was 55 percent. I met with administrators and told them it would take all of us working as a team to make it happen. We gathered in the teachers, and I set a very high bar: to provide the best education we could to make sure our students were successful.”
The turnaround plan was specific. It began with establishing a STEM academy, created with a federal grant for low-performance schools that brought in $6 million over three years. The money funded two labs and salaries for new teachers.
“I hired an engineer with a Georgia Tech degree and someone with a background in biomedicine,” said Askew. “We added supporting courses in science and math that would get students to a Georgia Tech, Emory or Auburn.”
Curriculum changes came in other areas as well. “We set up a prep program that mirrors what it takes to get a bachelor’s degree,” said Askew. “We added an additional class period, 30 minutes at the beginning of the day, when student can get remediation where they need it most. About 65 percent have a course in the morning, and those who don’t need one have an enrichment period when they can elect to take guitar, art or photography – something based on their interests.”
Five years later, the STEM program has become a magnet with 275 students. “It’s now very competitive,” said Askew. “We’ve even had kids come from nearby Paulding and Fulton counties who pay tuition to attend.”
STEM and Advanced Placement Coordinator Payton Millinor came on board as part of the changes five years ago and helped transform a few science classes into an academy.
“When I got here, they were starting from scratch, and classes were open to any students,” she recalled. “Now, students have to apply to get in, and they’re really passionate about it. We’ve established a level of rigor. It’s not easy; they take six AP courses. Our bio-med students graduate with 11 science courses on their transcripts.”
Having the program has changed the tone of the school, said Millinor. “Our demographics haven’t changed, but the culture of the school is different now that we have a program that’s winning academic awards. It’s something the kids recognize, even if they’re not a part of it.”
At the same time, the graduation rate has shot up to 87.7 percent. “We really honed in on the idea that graduation is not an event; it’s a process that takes four years. You’ve got to support and help students earn credits along they way. When they’re not being successful in class, we have programs that support them in recovering that credit.”
Those kinds of programs and approaches recently won the school a state award for promising practices.
“Five years ago, Lithia Springs High was a place people avoided,” said Askew. “Now we’re at a level of excellence that has led to gains across the board. We’re very proud of the work we’re doing.”
Take a look at what the local paper had to say about the hard work our students have put into science fair this year!
Read more: Neighbor Newspapers - Douglas students projects advancing to state science fair
All of our students received a first, second, or third place rating. Fourth was Honorable Mention. Not all of those students receiving Second Place were able to attend, the quality of participation was so high this year, according to organizers (they even ran out of ribbons!).
There are 12 projects going to state from Douglas County Schools and of these nine are from high schools. Of those, seven are from Lithia Springs High School!
Well done students, teachers, advisers, and mentors!
Best in Show - STEM
Engineering: Ethan Harrison, Senior Stair Mobility: A Cost Efficient Solution
Technology: Kenneth Thomas, Terror Prevention: Auto-Log for Aircraft
Judges Choice Awards
Most Unique Design: Nana Zanlerigu, Innovative Design of a Bio-Inspired Designed Football Helmet
Most Socially Relevant: Tyler Sargent & Zacarrah Venning, Blending In: Perception of People Versus Reality
Medical Connections: Anthony Russo, Range of Motion: Before and After with Cold Laser and Ultrasound
Ethan Harrison, Senior Stair Mobility: A Cost Efficient Solution
Tyler Sargent & Zacarrah Venning, Blending In: Perception of People Versus Reality
Kenneth Thomas, Terror Prevention: Auto-Log for Aircraft
Sebastian Torres-Wilcken, Invent, Design, Build, Test: Exoskeleton Suit
Erica DeNova & Lizbeth Murillo, Born this Way
Nicholas Gorzynski, The Carbon Scrubber Effect
Brandon Jacks, Quad Assisted Fire Fighting
Christian Parker, Aquaponic Generator
Ronan Patel, A Helping Hand: A Cost- Efficient, Fully-Functional Prosthetic Hand
Anthony Russo, Range of Motion: Before and After with Cold Laser and Ultrasound
Bailey Sharpe, Trauma Care: Gunshot Treatment Based on Ballistics
Nana Zanlerigu, Innovative Design of a Bio-Inspired Designed Football Helmet
Sandws Ahmady & Blair Cowan, UV-C: Won't Let Me Be
Ibrahima Diallo & Imani Smith, Weakening Legionella
Jaylin Billings & Jaden Lamar, Electrolysis of Water: An Alternate Fuel Source
***All 1st & 2nd place winners advance to the regional competition.***
Pictures are available at http://lshsstem.weeb_ly.com/photos--videos.html
Ethan Harrison, Engineering - Mechatronics
Brandon Jacks, Engineering - Design
Jordan Mills, Communicative Arts
Ronan Patel, Engineering - Mechatronics
Sebastian Torres Wilcken, Engineering - Mechatronics
Nick Tysver, Mathematics
Chris Vazquez, Engineering - Mechatronics
Nana Zanlerigu, Science
Good luck at your interviews!
Sandws Ahmady, 9th Grade
Jaylin Billings, 10th Grade
Blair Cowan, 9th Grade
Erica DeNova, 9th Grade
Ibrahima Diallo, 11th Grade
Nicholas Gorzynski, 9th Grade
Ethan Harrison, 11th Grade
Brandon Jacks, 11th Grade
Jaden Lamar, 10th Grade
Lizbeth Murillo, 9th Grade
Christian Parker, 11th Grade
Ronan Patel, 11th Grade
Anthony Russo, 10th Grade
Tyler Sargent, 10th Grade
Bailey Sharpe, 9th Grade
Imani Smith, 10th Grade
Kenneth Thomas, 11th Grade
Sebastian Torres-Wilcken, 11th Grade
Zacarrah Venning, 10th Grade
Nana Zanlerigu, 11th Grade
Shad Ahmady, 9th Grade
Nailah Carr, 10th Grade
Chase Cooper, 9th Grade
Ally Edwards, 11th Grade
Izzy Edwards, 11th Grade
Nyeemah German-Bey, 9th Grade
Amelia Glaser, 9th Grade
Noah Lamb, 9th Grade
Lauren McCord, 9th Grade
Shontia Price, 9th Grade
Rebecca Tripp, 9th Grade
Tiersly Wanka, 9th Grade
Christopher Vazquez, 11th Grade