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Chamber of Commerce, Forsyth School system host inaugural State of the Schools event
State of schools
Forsyth County Board of Education Chair Kristin Morrissey spoke on Tuesday, July 30, before a crowd of gathered community members during the inaugural State of Schools Luncheon. During her words to the crowd, Morrissey spoke about the strength of the school system, breaking down where the system is, what it has accomplished and what is on the horizon. - photo by Alexander Popp

The state of the Forsyth County School System is strong, school officials said on Tuesday at the inaugural Forsyth County State of the Schools luncheon.

Held at the Alliance Academy for Innovation in Cumming and hosted by the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, attendees at the State of the Schools event were treated to lunch with a stunning view of the Forsyth County countryside from the new school’s second floor and heard from local leaders like Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Kevin McDonough, Board of Education Chair Kristin Morrissey and Alliance Academy Principal Brandi Cannizzaro.

With new academic accolades, multiple new schools under construction and a growing student body headed towards the 50,000 mark, officials told the crowd that there is a lot to be excited about in the Forsyth County school system.

"We're excited, there’s a lot of great things going on, as you know we're in a state of construction ... and we're going to hit the 50,000-student mark right out of the gate,” Forsyth County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden said before the event. "We knew that day was coming and it's arrived. We've been preparing for it and we feel like we're in really good shape."

Bearden said that like almost every year, during the 2018-19 school year, their teachers and students, “knocked it out of the park,” upholding the reputation for excellence that the system has become known for.

“That happens because we have such a great culture and climate at all of our schools," he said.

Overall, Bearden said that the success that Denmark High School and Alliance Academy have found in their first year of operation is probably the most important thing to happen in the school system over the last year.

"Both of them had unbelievable success, academically, athletically at Denmark, unbelievable results," he said. "You go through redistricting, a lot of people weren't sure they wanted to go to school there, weren't sure they wanted to send their kids there, and now they are beating the door down to go."

According to him, when you have schools with good leaders and a supportive community, their effect snowballs, affecting other schools, leading to more connectedness and success.

"There’s a domino effect," he said.  

In her words to the crowd, Morrissey highlighted a spread of new construction projects that the system has embarked on like Poole’s Mill Elementary School, which will open in north Forsyth next fall, and East Forsyth High and Hendricks Middle schools, which will open to students in the 2021 school year.

While those projects are undoubtedly important, Morrissey said that the system’s focus over the last few years on Social Emotional Learning and the social-emotional needs of their students has been crucial to the system’s success.

“For our system, it's a matter of building relationships – teacher to student, student to student – and that's keeping the kids feeling comfortable, feeling safe, being welcome,” she said. "That's what's going to take us to the next level in the school system. We've got it going on academically, but we're going to just make sure we have a well-rounded, happy child."

Morrissey also commented on the importance of economic development and business partnerships with the school system, stating that now more than ever the system is working to collaborate with the community to give students and teachers more opportunities.

"That collaboration between the community and businesses and us is a win-win for all of us," she said.