Board of Education Honors Students Joining Military, Talks Graduation, and Georgia’s Pre-K Teacher of the Year Finalist

Habersham Co. - With the end of the school year for Habersham County students being next week, May 22, some students will be missed during the July 31 graduation ceremony, because they will be preparing to start their careers in the United States military.

The Habersham County Board of Education (BOE) decided to honor the six students who would be missing their high school graduations by recognizing them during the most recent BOE meeting. 
“We certainly wanted to give them an opportunity to be recognized,” Habersham Central High School principal Jonathan Stribling said. 

Each one of the board members went on to commend the six students for their future military services. Those students included: Robert Benton, Bowen Brooks, Kimberly Fernandez, Anthony Primavera, Devin Watts, and Grant Williams.

“As your principal, I was not going to let you earn your diploma, becoming a member of the United States Armed Forces, miss your graduation because of your deployment, and do nothing,” Stribling said to the students. “I am proud of each of you, and thank you for your service.”

Graduation talk
Regarding graduation, Cooper told the board that Principal Stribling and himself would be “bulldogs” when it came to giving the seniors a normal graduation ceremony. 

“When I say we’re going to bulldogs, what I mean is your high school principal and your superintendent are going to be very determined to make this ceremony happen,” Cooper said. “I’ve talked to people in other systems that decided not to try to have a real ceremony and you can only imagine the disappointment and the heartbreak of those students and families.”

Cooper did note that Habersham always held their graduations outside, which he says is a “huge advantage.” 

As of right now, HCHS graduation is set for July 31 at 8 p.m. in Raider Stadium. Full graduation plans can be found here.

Upcoming school year
Cooper went on to tell the board that he has been asked what the upcoming school year would look like and if students will be able to resume a normal school schedule. 

“The reality is that it’s much too soon to make a decision regarding what school will look like on August 4,” Cooper said. “Our system will be ready for all possible scenarios.”

Cooper said that if local school systems are responsible for making the decision on what the upcoming school system will look like, then there are three possible scenarios.

The first being that students return to in-classroom teaching with new protocols in place including new protocols for hygiene, sanitation, and social distancing where possible. The second scenario is a later start date to in-person classroom teachings. The third possible scenario Cooper outlined is a “new and improved learning from home plan” and a hard date for returning to classrooms later in the year.  

“We pray and we’re optimistic that scenario one will be possible,” Cooper said.

Other meeting items
Cooper went on to brag on the teachers, nutrition department, transportation department, and the Board of Education members. “Our school system is still standing strong,” Cooper said.

The Habersham County School System plans on providing meals to students throughout the summer. Find out more here.

The board approved a purchase of 2,000 more Chromebooks as an effort to further learning from home experiences. “These new Chromebooks will serve many purposes,” Cooper said.  

Rhonda Andrews shared the news with Cooper that Dena Snowden, a Pre-K teacher at Demorest Elementary School was named one of the top three finalists for Georgia’s Pre-K teacher of the year.

“That is exciting and remarkable,” Cooper said. A winner will be determined next school year.