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Board of Education hears update on fine arts program, approves spending on school computers
07152020 Board of Education 1

A Forsyth County Schools official spoke to the Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday, May 18, about the district’s fine arts program and its continuing strategic plan before board members also approved the purchasing of computers both for new and older schools in the county.

Fine arts strategic plan

Fine Arts Content Specialist Catherine Keyser spoke to the board Tuesday, first laying out the accomplishments the fine arts students were able to reach during an unprecedented year.

She said, despite the pandemic, all of the student groups were able to safely continue with their creations and performances throughout the school year, “which was exciting for us.”

Performing arts students were able to play at and attend several events this year. Keyser noted that Otwell Middle School’s band performed virtually at the Southeastern Regional Concert Festival; South Forsyth Middle School’s band also virtually attended the UGA Middle School Festival; and North Forsyth High School’s chorus attended the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference.

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Aside from these specific festivals and conferences, band, chorus and orchestra programs from across the district also had the opportunity to receive feedback on performances at the Large Group Performance Evaluations. Another 98 middle and high school students also represented Forsyth County at the GMEA All-State band and orchestra competitions.

Theater students in the county had the opportunity to compete at GHSA’s One Act competition, and Denmark High School’s students ended up winning the 7A state championship. Denmark students also walked away with wins at the Literary 7A State Individual/Group competitions along with students from North and South Forsyth high schools.

Keyser also spoke on the accomplishments of the county’s visual arts students, congratulating winners of the All-State Art Symposium, National Arts Society National Juried Show, Scholastic Art Awards and more.

The district also hosted its annual Arts Honor Day just last month where they offered six different day-long classes taught by college professors from across the state. Participating students had the opportunity not only to learn artistic skills, but also to make connections at different colleges and universities.

Keyser said more than 240 of these performing and visual arts students who are graduating this year are also recipients of the GaDOE Fine Arts Diploma Seal.

After speaking on these accomplishments, Keyser informed the board on any updates regarding the fine arts program’s strategic plan, which works to “promote and advance arts education in Forsyth County Schools, increase our partnership with the community and eliminate barriers to increase participation and ensure quality arts education experiences for all of our students.”

In trying to expand the capacity of FCS’ arts program, Keyser said they are planning to start an East Forsyth Youth and Community Orchestra for kids in grades 3-12 that will open alongside East Forsyth High School at the beginning of the next school year.

On top of that, they are expanding the music therapy program, which helps to support students with special needs, and they have implemented a new high school Forsyth Virtual Academy visual arts course.

Access will also open up to the larger community through the Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center opening in November.

“We are excited about the tremendous benefit to our students and increased arts access to the community through the FoCAL Center,” Keyser said.

Code of Conduct

David Feuerbach, School Safety and Student Discipline Coordinator, presented small changes to the school system’s Student Code of Conduct for the upcoming school year.

These changes include the changing of staff titles and addition of new staff members, including Tara Davis, recently hired as School Climate Coordinator, and Lindsey Adams, who was voted in as a new board member this year.

They also added the word “derogatory” to the code of conduct to show that students cannot use “vulgar, derogatory or profane language” directed toward staff members, administrators, other students or visitors.

The board members passed the changes unanimously.

Purchasing of computers

The Board of Education also approved the purchasing of new computers for both the county’s new schools and some of its older schools.

FCS Technology Services requested the purchase of 180 Apple 27-inch iMac computers, half of which they plan to use in East Forsyth High School, Hendricks Middle School and the Academy for Creative Education. The remaining 90 computers will be used to replace older computers in the county’s existing Mac labs.

The department also requested 688 new PC computers, 152 monitors and 790 Acer Chromeboxes and monitors for the new EFHS, HMS and ACE buildings.

Aside from the PC computers for the new buildings, the department is also planning to replace all of the desktop computers across the district in schools’ classrooms and offices. The current computers are six years old, and department officials explained they need to be replaced to keep up with current technology.

With the current shortage of computer chips, they plan to replace half of the district’s desktops this year and the other half next year.

The board approved all of these purchases unanimously.