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Deaf Valedictorian gives inspirational speech

Deaf Valedictorian gives inspirational speech

COBB COUNTY, Ga-- Evan Mercer was born deaf, but it wasn't discovered until he was four years old. Specialists told his parents he would never read, and speaking was out of the question. Evan defied the prediction in his valedictorian speech at Harrison High School May 22nd.

"Deafness has taught me to never give up," he said from the stage. "Not when experts tell you it can't be done. Not when you've fallen so far behind, quitting seems the only way out. Not when achieving your dreams seems an absolute impossibility."

Evan told the crowd it took him seven years to say a simple three-word sentence. "Understand and quitting is easy," he said. "It's also permanent."

His speech is full of wisdom out of place in a high school auditorium.

"If you want something, refuse to allow the skeptics to poison it."

"Find your own impossible and bring it to its knees."

Students encouraged to read this summer

Students encouraged to read this summer

(WXIA) -- The Georgia Department of Education has created a 2014 Summer Reading Challenge for students in all grades.

The program was announced Thursday at Timber Ridge Elementary School in Cobb County. Its goal is to close the achievement gap that widens during the summer months, when children often don't read.

"No student should have to start the school year having fallen behind," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "That's what we know, and that's what we're committed to preventing, because that loss is preventable."

The challenge encourages students to read for at least 15 to 30 minutes every day. The GDOE outlined suggested summer goals for children based on their school years:

* K-2: 10 books
* 3-5: 8 chapter books
* 6-12: 5 fiction books and 5 nonfiction books

Little River ES principal wins KSU award

Little River ES principal wins KSU award

WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- The principal of Woodstock's Little River Elementary School is this year's Distinguished Graduate for the Specialist in Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University.

Christian Kirby was presented with the award during a ceremony last week.

Cherokee County Schools' deputy superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower said Kirby shows "tremendous potential as an educational leader."

"We are proud to have Mr. Kirby serve as a principal within our school district," Hightower said in a release.

13 Cobb high schools among America's Most Challenging

13 Cobb high schools among America's Most Challenging

(WXIA) -- The Washington Post has unveiled its 2014 list of America's Most Challenging High Schools.

The newspaper determines the annual rankings through a ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests a school gives each year, divided by the number of graduating seniors.

Thirteen Cobb County schools made the list, which features more than 2,000 high schools across the country. The listed numbers are each school's national ranking.

183. Walton HS
495. Lassiter HS
755. Harrison HS
936. Pope HS
1082. Campbell HS
1133. Wheeler HS
1184. North Cobb HS
1206. Kell HS
1334. Sprayberry HS
1474. Hillgrove HS
1523. Kennesaw Mountain HS
1718. McEachern HS
2001. Pebblebrook HS

Additionally, Marietta High School, which is part of a charter system, is No. 1058 on the list.

2014 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

2014 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

(WXIA) -- The nominees for this year's Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, known casually as the Shuler Hensley Awards, were revealed Wednesday.

The awards program celebrates some of the best high school musical theater productions in the state. The award is named for metro Atlanta native Shuler Hensley, a seasoned Broadway performer who originated the role of the Monster in Young Frankenstein and won a Tony Award for playing Jud Fry in the revival of Oklahoma!

Sixty-one public and private high schools from 24 counties are vying for this year's awards. The winners will be announced on Thursday, Apr. 17 during an awards ceremony at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $23 for the general public and can be purchased at shulerawards.org.

Some of this year's notable nominees include:

Ga. Race to the Top 'Year Three' Report

Ga. Race to the Top 'Year Three' Report

(WXIA) -- The U.S. Department of Education recently released its "Year Three" Report for the 12 states participating in the Race to the Top grant initiative.

Educational practices and successes in Georgia were highlighted throughout the report.

"We have taken on some major initiatives and our success is a direct reflection of the collaborative efforts between our department, other education agencies and the hundreds of participating teachers, principals and district leaders around our state," Dr. Susan Andrews, Deputy Superintendent of Race to the Top Implementation in Georgia, said in a release.

"While educational reform work is never easy, we are pleased with the significant progress that our state has made as reflected in this report," Andrews added.

Some highlights from the report include:

* Nearly 300 Georgia teachers were placed in state public schools from alternative certification programs.

Ga. Connections Academy accepting students for 2014-15 school year

Ga. Connections Academy accepting students for 2014-15 school year

(WXIA) -- A few seats are still available at Georgia Connections Academy for the 2014-15 school year.

Georgia Connections Academy is a virtual K-12 public school that allows students to learn at their own pace. It is fully accredited and open to all school-age Georgia children.

"We are enrolling 1,000 additional students across all grade levels for the coming academic year," lead principal Heather Robinson said in a release. "We have a waiting list as we open enrollment, so we encourage parents to get their applications in now."

Georgia Connections Academy will hold a number of information sessions across the state for parents who want to know more. Additional enrollment information is available at connectionsacademy.com/georgia-virtual-school.

Upcoming information sessions in the Atlanta area include: