Redistricting of students offers great
possibilities for future
Gwinnett County School Board
Special to GwinnettForum.com
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Dec. 21, 2007 -- As residents of Gwinnett County
know so well, the growth that our school district continues to experience
is huge. To address these needs, our voters very wisely and generously
adopted SPLOST to place as many students as possible in permanent
buildings with the construction of new schools. Gwinnett citizens
clearly feel strongly that more schools need to be built and are
willing to financially support these plans. Obviously, enrollment
needs to be balanced and attendance lines redrawn, to meet the growth
patterns. Consequently, we face re-districting.
An intricate process filled with many outlets for community input
was put in place this fall. Boundary committees, online forms, suggestion
sheets, transportation analysis, attendance maps, public forums,
revised maps, community involvement, neighborhood newsletters, Board
contact, and Planning Department calls were encouraged and received
to design the best plan for as many students as possible.
The entire redistricting process was a difficult and involved process,
one that in no way could honor all citizen requests. Without a doubt,
analyzing all input and suggestions was a Herculean task, but the
main purpose was to balance the enrollment at existing and new schools.
Unfortunately, lines do have to be drawn somewhere, and boundaries
can and do create emotional responses because students and families
are tied so closely to their schools. This connection is a wonderful
bond which fosters a sense of unity, pride, and belonging in a particular
school cluster. Such bonding is a very positive tie that benefits
all involved families particularly in today's world when community
life is so valuable and sometimes fragile. Presently in Gwinnett
County, our school clusters partially fulfill our need for community
similar to the small towns of yesteryear. When the bonds families
have to school clusters are tampered with during the process of
redistricting, it is only natural that many people feel distress
at the change.
However, after all the data and suggestions were analyzed, a plan
was devised that will house students in settings that will definitely
enhance their learning and allow them to develop to their fullest
academic height. These settings may be different than what some
parents wanted initially for their children, but they are ultimately
in the best interest of all students. The Board of Education is
confident that this adopted plan is the best possible one.
Students in new schools and new clusters have a wonderful and exciting
opportunity ahead of them. Obviously parents who have taken the
time to share input, comments and concerns throughout this process
are ones who care deeply about public education and about their
schools. These concerned and involved citizens are exactly the ones
who will create a brand-new and even better environment for students.
What an exciting proposition this is to combine the creative elements
in existing schools with fresh approaches and ideas!
New schools and clusters have every opportunity to become even
better than the original schools as the schools develop their own
identity. We in Gwinnett have seen this phenomenon repeatedly with
the birth of additional clusters. Furthermore, the original schools
themselves differ because the student population evolves as new
schools open. Consequently, as change occurs even the old and known
is not the same. Even though these ideas seem obvious, the emotions
experienced are very real and give us the opportunity for a fresh
I challenge all of us to meet these changes with enthusiasm and
aplomb to ensure that all Gwinnett County Public Schools continue
to strive to be world-class with our students achieving the highest
levels possible. Many thanks go to everyone who participated in
this process to improve our school system.
Easily recharge your engine on peaceful Jekyll
Editor and Publisher
JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. -- There are many ways to enjoy this idyllic
island on the Georgia coast. Many flock to its beaches, still others
go for its 63 holes of golf, kids flock to the south end of the
island for the soccer fields; some study the wild birds on the 65
per cent of the island not developed.
Others, like us on a recent long weekend, come to the Jekyll Island
Club Hotel and find peace and restfulness in the subdued quiet of
the island. We were there at a particular delightful time: the weather
during the day was in the low 70s; the sun was shining; and all
through the day and night, the feeling of peace and contentment
It didn't hurt that we had a nice porch to sit on, looking toward
the river through the giant, sprawling oaks, with limbs sometimes
gracefully touching the ground, the moss hanging from them. It didn't
hurt that at night the hotel had draped its trees in lights of the
Christmas season, providing a festive feel. (The road from the park
entrance to the beach was also colorfully displayed with colorful
lights outlining the shape of the trees.)
It was a superb time. Just a short time on Jekyll Island can give
you an understanding of why the people who live here, and those
who visit often, are upset over the proposal for sweeping changes
in the development of the island. Understandably, they don't want
to disturb what they presently have. And though the island may not
be what others want, these people have a major stake in the island,
and will most reasonably fight for their views.
from Jekyll Island Club
(photo by C. Brack)
Each time we visit Jekyll, we seem to learn more. We had never
before taken a tour of the Millionaire's Village, those "cottages"
of the super-rich that owned the Island for more than 50 years.
We were concerned about them living there during the hot season
air conditioning in those days long ago. The short answer: "This
was a winter playground. The millionaires were here only from January
to March." Now I understand.
A few more insights:
- One of the "cottage" owners, William Rockefeller,
brother of John D., had an enormous house -- over 8,000 square
feet -- and had an indoor, walk-in safe for valuables. And this
Rockefeller was 5'1" tall.
- The only Democrat of all those 100 or so members was supposedly
Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper publisher.
- All the millionaires' homes on the island were designed by northern
architects, and all have basements
..on a sandy island which
is six feet above sea level. The only house which doesn't have
a wet basement was designed by a bridge builder, who understood
how to get a dry basement.
- When J.P. Morgan arrived on his yacht, it was 347 feet long,
with a draft so deep that it couldn't dock at the Jekyll Island
Club marina. Morgan had a cannon mounted on the fantail, and fired
it when coming into the Brunswick harbor. The Island Club then
sent a smaller boat over for him.
- The Island club didn't much like automobiles on the island.
They finally relented, but posted times people could drive them,
and a speed limit of 6 mph. Even so, one millionaire was killed
in an automobile wreck when he collided with another, both going
* * * * *
.a jewel on the Georgia coast, originally acquired
by the state when M.E. Thompson was governor, for $675,000, a steal.
Georgia needs to do everything possible to keep it as pristine
as it can be -- so generations to come can enjoy the peace and serenity
we felt when there last week.
public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com
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pens tribute to the late Tom Murphy
(Editor's note: former Gwinnettian Melita Easters-White
knew the late speaker Tom Murphy well, since she was associate
producer for "The Lawmakers" on public television. She
penned this memory of the longest-serving speaker of a state House
of Representatives in the nation.-eeb)
Editor, the Forum:
While I often did not always agree with Tom
Murphy politically, I had great respect for him as a person,
political master and someone who treated others with respect.
He always protected choice for women. He stood up for Atlanta when
it counted. He gave African-Americans respect when they joined the
legislature. He could be condescending at times to women, but he
allowed them to be heard when their numbers in the legislature were
small. He gave women a voice, though he never forgot to remind them
if necessary that it was at his pleasure. He appointed women to
chair committees, not the most powerful committees and they were
never in the smoke-filled rooms, but he opened a door.
He had the great most loyalty to Wiley, who ran the house post office
and God only knew the fury of anyone who ever criticized Wiley.
I think his long-time driver Butch would have walked through hell
for "The Speaker." And, Butch was a mirror of "The
Speaker's" own civility, treating all with respect as he stood
somewhere close to the office but always close enough if needed.
The rest of his loyal staff loved him dearly and I think one can
always judge a person by how well respected they are by those who
see them in moments both public and private. I remember being in
the chamber when they had the memorial service for his wife and
how he teared up at a hymn. I don't think anyone had ever seen him
cry in public before. I also remember some sort of high school rule
change which would have adversely affected his daughter's champion
debate team; you would have thought it was the beginning of a new
The thing that Jim Galloway's masterfully written obit forgot is
that Bill Heath did defeat "The Speaker" in his "own"
district, but only because in reapportionment he had allowed "his"
district to include a whole bunch of new subdivisions and people
who did not know him. In some ways, his generosity contributed to
He was a legend and a great friend to Georgia women although his
gruff exterior might sometimes seem otherwise. After all, he was
the father of three daughters.
-- Melita Easters-White, Atlanta
Another gem from cartoonist Bill McLemore:
schedules additional Piccadilly Puppets performance
By popular demand, the Aurora Theatre is adding a performance of
Piccadilly Puppets 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' at 11
a.m. Saturday, December 22. This is the third year the Aurora has
had this holiday puppet show. Every year the audience gets bigger.
This favorite classic is brought to life with puppets and lots
of humor. The story is told from the point of view of a mouse that
was there and saw what really happened.
When the show sold out this week, the Aurora management placed
a few phone calls and the second performance was added so that the
young and the young at heart will be able to enjoy this holiday
Meanwhile, the theatre's annual Toys for Tots drive will still
be going on through the weekend. The theatre encourages parents
and grandparents to teach children the joy of giving this holiday
by bringing a new unwrapped toy to the show with them. This is the
fourth consecutive year Aurora Theatre is an official collection
site for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
For more information, call 678-226-6222or visit www.auroratheatre.com.
Clean and Beautiful
asks "Bring Your Tree To the Chipper"
Beginning the day after Christmas, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful
will kick off its annual Christmas Tree Recycling program. Residents
of Gwinnett County are encouraged to give back to nature and bring
their Christmas tree, stripped of all lights and decorations, to
one of the drop-off locations listed below between December 26 and
January 14. Artificial trees will not be accepted.
In addition to providing an easy and environmentally conscious tree
disposal solution for residents, recycled trees will be put to good
use through the creation of valuable mulch. Most of the mulch will
be used to help beautify local schools and parks. Precious landfill
space will also be saved as the average Christmas tree weighs twenty
pounds and fills up almost as much landfill space as a washing machine.
Once the trees are collected from the drop-off locations, community
volunteers will chip them into mulch at the Keep Georgia Beautiful's
'Bring One for the Chipper' event, scheduled for Saturday, January
19. Residents interested in the limited volunteer spots at this
event should visit the Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful website at
or call 770-822-5187. All volunteers must be at least 12 years of
age to participate.
Participating drop-off locations are listed below, and on the Gwinnett
Clean & Beautiful website, www.gwinnettcb.org.
Tree drop-off sites in Gwinnett include:
Fire Station 14, 1600 Highway 23
Fire Station 24, 2735 Mall of Georgia Boulevard
Fire Station 16, 195 Dacula Road.
Fire Station 17, 2739 Brooks Road.
Fire Station 18, 3600 Braselton Highway.
Fire Station 27, 2825 Old Fountain Road.
Fire Station 5, 3001 Old Norcross Road.
Fire Station 19, 3275 N. Berkeley Lake Road.
*City Residents ONLY: 2450 Chattahoochee Drive.
Fire Station 8, 2295 Brannan Road.
Fire Station 9, 1900 Five Forks-Trickum Road.
Fire Station 15, 275 S. Perry Street.
Fire Station 20, 1801 Cruse Road.
Fire Station 25, 3575 Lawrenceville Highway.
Fire Station 2, 12 Harmony Grove Road.
Fire Station 3, 4394 Five Forks-Trickum Road.
Fire Station 22, 2180 Stone Drive.
*City Residents ONLY: 107 Railroad Avenue.
Fire Station 4, 5550 Spalding Drive.
Fire Station 11, 5885 Live Oak Parkway.
Fire Station 23, 4355 Steve Reynolds Boulevard.
Fire Station 6, 3890 Johnson Drive.
Fire Station 12, 2815 Lenora Church Road.
Briscoe Park Soccer Parking Lot
Fire Station 26, 6075 Suwanee Dam Road.
Fire Station 21, 474 Old Peachtree Road.
Town Center Park, 370 Buford Highway
debs enjoy breakfast with Santa at Rainbow Village
Debutantes participating in The Gwinnett Pearls of Service Foundation/Upsilon
Alpha Omega Chapter's fifth Biennial Cotillion and Scholarship Ball
proved that aprons can sparkle just as brightly as tiaras during
the month of December. The debs participated in "Breakfast
with Santa" at Rainbow Village of Norcross. Rainbow Village
provides families in north metro Atlanta in domestic or economic
crisis with a healing environment to rebuild their lives through
a community based transitional housing program that promotes self-sufficiency.
The 5th Biennial Cotillion and Scholarship Ball is slated for April
12th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Proceeds will benefit the Beauty
P. Baldwin Scholarship Fund. Upsilon Alpha Omega Graduate Chapter
awards scholarships to deserving college-bound students each year.
Evermore CID renews
landscaping contract along U.S. 78
The Evermore Community Improvement District (CID) recently renewed
its landscape maintenance contract with Leach Landscaping. During
construction, Leach Landscaping crews will expand their service
boundaries to include several U.S. Highway 78 access streets.
Evermore CID Board Member Dwight Harrison says that although the
appearance of Highway 78 will be impacted during median construction,
"Our landscape and clean-up efforts are more important than
ever and must continue." The revised plan calls for additional
services to include litter removal and extended right-of-way maintenance
on most U.S. 78 access streets within the Evermore community. These
new provisions provide the opportunity for Leach Landscaping to
work cooperatively along side of Georgia DOT's construction clean-up
One of the first projects under the Evermore CID's enhanced highway
maintenance plan is the significant effort recently concentrated
on Paxton Lane extending parallel to Highway 78 from Killian Hill
Road to Jessica Daron Court. Paxton Lane's curbs were edged, the
gutters cleaned, trash and debris removed and the shoulders bush-hogged.
Web site: Time-Life Pictures
Pictures is an unparalleled collection of striking imagery,
documenting past and present events in politics, culture, celebrities
and the arts. The collection includes some of the greatest photographers
of the 20th Century, such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White,
Andreas Feininger, John Dominis, Nina Leen and Gjon Mili, whose
photographs have adorned the pages of Time, Life and other publications.
The online collection comprises over 425,000 digital files, representing
millions of original prints and negatives archived by the Time Inc.
-- Roy McCreary, Dacula
- An invitation: What
Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your
best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have
read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus
what book you plan to read next. --eeb
vital part of vast ecosystems along Georgia coast
where freshwater mixes with saltwater, are dominant and vital ecosystems
along Georgia's coast. They are transition zones between river and
sea and provide critical habitat for an assortment of plants and
animals. More than 70 percent of Georgia's recreationally and commercially
important fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish spend at least part
of their lives in estuaries.
In general, an estuary is a semi-enclosed body of water with a
free connection to the ocean. There, saltwater from the ocean is
measurably diluted with freshwater from a river or stream. Freshwater
also may come from local storm runoff and groundwater.
The major estuaries of Georgia generally connect with the Atlantic
Ocean through large bodies of water called sounds, which lie between
coastal barrier islands and separate them. From north to south on
Georgia's coast, they include Wassaw Sound, Ossabaw Sound, St. Catherines
Sound, Sapelo Sound, Doboy Sound, Altamaha Sound, St. Simons Sound,
St. Andrews Sound, and Cumberland Sound.
Saltwater in the sounds is diluted by freshwater from five major
Georgia rivers that originate inland and flow to the coast: the
Altamaha, Ogeechee, Satilla, Savannah, and St. Marys rivers. The
Altamaha, for example, contributes freshwater to Altamaha Sound;
the Ogeechee to Ossabaw Sound; the Satilla to St. Andrew Sound;
and the St. Marys to Cumberland Sound. Some estuaries, however,
may have little or no input from major freshwater streams. No large
freshwater river, for instance, enters Wassaw Sound near the city
of Savannah. Its freshwater sources include direct rainfall, local
drainage, and groundwater.
Georgia's estuaries have formed integral relationships with tidal
salt marshes. The marshes develop in estuaries where the rate of
sedimentation equals or exceeds the rate of rising sea level. Tidal
creeks link the marshes to estuaries. Together, the estuaries and
the marshes are some of the most biologically productive ecosystems
Sediment and nutrients are delivered to the estuaries by the freshwater
rivers and by tides and currents from the sea. The mixing of nutrients,
sediments, and water from land and sea creates a murky brown, biologically
rich mixture. The enriched estuarine water flows into the marshes
with the tide and nourishes Spartina alterniflora, or smooth cordgrass,
and an array of other organisms. The marsh, in turn, produces huge
amounts of food that flow back into the estuaries with the tide.
Taking a view of what
the Advent season is all about
"Advent----the wonder keep us open-eyed, expectant, alive
to life, that is always more than we can account for, that always
exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can
-- Retired newspaperman Eugene Patterson
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