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May 2018 Headlines​

First AVID Graduating Class

The Raiders adopted the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program​ in August 2014 with a handful of 9th grade students. In May 2018, 27 students received their high school diplomas. Proudly marching across the Cobb Energy Centre stage, wearing their AVID stoles over their graduation gowns, were Luis Alvarado-Petata, Julisa Bautista Flores, Paige Bradshaw, Amarai Brown, Angel Candelas, Denise Cervantes, Jesus Flores, Prince Gaines, Fabain Gomez Salgado, Destine Hardnett,Jose Hernandez, Olivia Lampkin, Crystal Marin Lopez, Jabari Marts, Maria Mendoza, Rosa Moctezuma-Mier, Josseline Nicacio, Xavier Palacios-Santana, Braxton Peoples, Phillia Prior, Georgia Ramos, Brittany Rhodes, Maia Stapleton, Megan Ta, Flor Valle Garcia, Byron Woodard, and Daniela Zepeda Ibarra. 

Of the 27 seniors completing the four-year program in May, all but one have already determined which college they will attend in the fall. The one remaining student is waiting to make a decision. While most are enrolling in-state schools, several are attending out of state institutions:  NYU (1), Huntingdon College (1), and Santa Monica College (1). The in-state distribution is as follows: Georgia State University will receive the most AVID graduates (10), followed by Georgia Gwinnett College (6), the University of West Georgia (3), Kennesaw State University (2), Columbus State University (1), and Young Harris College (1).

Next school year, 138 students across all grade levels will be in Riverwood’s 2018-19 AVID program. The Class of 2019 will have 24 students; the Class of 2020 will have 36; the Class of 2021 will have 35; and the entering Class of 2022 will have 43 students. Furthermore, after the summer 2018 AVID teacher training, half of the entire academic staff will be AVID trained, and will be implementing AVID strategies throughout the school.

Continued funding from the Riverwood Foundation and grants totaling more than $25,000 from The Sandy Springs Society in 2014, 2015, and 2016 provide more than simply teacher training. AVID funding also supports field trips, tutors, and technology in the classrooms. Field trips to Georgia State, UGA, Emory, and Kennesaw State (to name just a few) expose students to post-high school opportunities. Equally important, tutors provide critical academic support and have access to iPads to enhance the tutoring sessions while reinforcing digital literacy.​

Fulton County Schools Senior Spotlight:  Yazmin Tamez-Garcia​
Congratulations to Yazmin Tamez-Garcia​ (Class of 2018) for being selected by Fulton County Schools as the Raider Star Senior.


Three Raiders Traveling to Germany This Summer with GYAP
Congratulations to Malcolm Stewart, LaBrauns Stinson, and Zechiah Weekley for being chosen to participate in the 2018 Global Youth Ambassador Program (GYAP). GYAP 2018 is traveling to Germany in June and will provide a unique opportunity to foster transatlantic relationships.

GYAP 2018 starts June 1 with a two week leadership academy. Students will receive German language instruction, cultural competence training, and will learn a great deal about German history and current events. Public speaking and workforce preparedness are components of the leadership academy, too. Part of the Peer to Peer Teen Exchange Program is a homestay with local families in Nuremberg. Beginning the week of June 16, the group will be attending high school classes, touring Nuremberg’s cultural sites, and attending an official reception hosted by city officials.

Other major cities on the trip are Munich and Berlin. GYAP partners with a variety of American and German institutions, such as Amerikahaus, Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institute Nuremberg, the Atlanta-Nuremberg Sister City Committee, International Affairs, City of Nuremberg, and Goethe Zentrum Atlanta. As a result, this summer’s itinerary includes site visits to American companies based in Germany.​

Headed up by former Fulton County Chairman John Eaves, GYAP is celebrating its 10th year in providing quality global leadership training to high school students. GYAP is a comprehensive global education initiative which empowers its members to become competitive in the global economy. To be considered for the program, the students must receive a high school counselor’s recommendation, meet GPA requirements, and provide at least two letters of recommendation.​​

Congratulations, Graduates! 
The Class of 2018 graduated on Thursday, May 24 at the Cobb Energy Centre. Each year, the school bestows three special awards to outstanding seniors. Congratulations to: 

  • Atlanta Journal & Constitution Cup:  Josh​ Bennafield (pictured above, left)
    The AJC Cup recipient displays not only academic promise but also demonstrates initiative, enthusiasm, energy, and strong leadership skills. The AJC Cup winner is an exemplary student who serves as a positive role model. 
  • Faculty Cup: Whit Blass (pictured above, center)
    The Faculty Cup recipient is well-rounded, excelling in scholarship as well as extracurricular pursuits. The Faculty Cup goes to a young person whose positive behavior, extra effort,​ and “can do” attitude is emblematic of what is right with today’s youth.
  • Principal's Cup:  Destynee Jones (pictured above​, right)
    The Principal's Cup goes to the senior who best exemplifies the spirit of Riverwood. Basic criteria include academic scholarship, extracurricular depth, and demonstrated leadership. Most importantly, the recipient of this award has a history of mutual respect for those of other races, cultures, and beliefs.

Congratulations to the following Raider Athletes from the Class of 2018 who will be continuing their sports careers in college:

  • Griffin Brown, Pensacola State College, Baseball (learn​ more)

  • Paché Caldwell, Florida A&M University, Track (learn more)

  • Elizabeth Goines, Georgia Southern University, Tennis (learn more)

  • Kalia Jones, Agnes Scott College, Volleyball (learn more)

  • Brianna Lang, Coppin State University, Volleyball (learn more)

  • Kaitlyn Lauk, Reinhardt University, Soccer (learn more)

  • Kennedy Lewis, Howard University, Track (learn more)

  • Theresa Riccio, University of Montevallo, Track (learn more)

International Thespian Society Chapter Inducts New Members
The Raider chapter of the International Thespian Society (IST), Troupe 6083, inducted nine new members in May. Congratulations to Lizzie Begle, Tommy Carroll, Sam Cooney, Rebecca Eisenstein, Grace Hirsch, James Jackson, Sha​ne Kleber, Josh Lerner, and Phillia Prior.

The IST Troupe 6083 event, similar to the Academy Awards, featured presenters, envelopes, and acceptance speeches, as well as the induction ceremony of the newest members. The 2017-18 Thespian president was Harris Cohen (Class of 2018); Mary Beth van der Hoek is the chapter faculty sponsor.

The IST, a division of the Educational Theatre Association, is the honor society for high school theatre students. Membership requirements are strict, as each student must complete 100 hours of theatre work – both technical and performance – in addition to their classroom assignments. Fulfilling the requirements is usually a two-year commitment. ​

Echeverria Receives Inaugural "I Believe in You" Scholarship
Congratulations to Andy Echeverria (Class of 2018) for receiving the inaugural "I Believe in You" $500 college scholarship. He plans to pursue a career in medicine, possibly as a medical assistant or in the nursing field. The scholarship committee selected Echeverria based on his positive attitude, tremendous work ethic, and the potential effect that this scholarship has to make on his life.​

A local family created the inaugural "I Believe in You" scholarship in memory of Scott Selig, an Atlanta native and real estate developer. Selig, who died in 2017 of cancer, was a proponent of helping underserved youth​ and the family commented "Scott truly believed in people and think he'd be proud to know that through this scholarship, he continues to help…one person at a time.”​ The scholarship is for students in the Seniors Achieving in Life (SAIL) program, which pairs graduating seniors with adult community mentors who help them navigate the difficult and often daunting process of applying to a college or technical school. 

Schmidt is One of Ten Georgia STAR ESOL Teachers
Congratulations to faculty member Mary Schmidt's selection by the Georgia Department of Education as a 2018 STAR English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher.

Schmidt is one of only ten teachers statewide to be named a Georgia Department of Education STAR ESOL teacher. Started in 2016, the Star ESOL designation re​cognizes teachers who provide superior ESOL instruction in Georgia. Senior Anh Tran (Raider Class of 2018) nominated Schmidt for the award. Both Tran and Schmidt attended State School Superintendent Richard Wood’s annual “Excellence in Achievement” reception on May 7 where the Georgia Board of Education honored all of the state’s winning students and teachers.

Schmidt has taught English learners for 20 years, 14 of them at Riverwood. She remarked “I am humbled and proud that I can represent Riverwood and Fulton County as a STAR ESOL teacher in Georgia."

High Point Civic Association Awards Two Scholarships
The High Point Civic Association (HPCA) awarded $500 scholarships to two Raider seniors. Congratulations to Xavier Palacios-Santana and Rosa Moctezuma-Mier (Class of 2018) for winning the inaugural scholarships; both will attend Georgia State University in the fall. Palacios-Santana and Moctezuma-Mier went to High Point Elementary School and Ridgeview Charter Middle School -- a designation that was important to the scholarship's designers. This is the first year that the Association is sponsoring this scholarship, which is paid out of the Association's budget. Notes HPCA Treasurer/Secretary Duffy Hickey, "We are so pleased to begin what we hope will be a long time recognition of young adults like Rosa and Xavier for their impressive achievements at our public schools and also in gratitude for the fantastic teachers we have at all three of our public schools. Best wishes to Rosa and Xavier as they continue their education." The High Point Civic Association is a non-profit organization of residents living in the High Point area of Sandy Springs.​

Mittelstedt Wins Fully Funded Trip to Washington, D.C. Seminar
Congratulations to rising senior Julie Mittelstedt (Class of 2019) for receiving a "Future Leaders of America" scholarship from the Fulton County Law Week Committee. She will attend a Washington Workshop Seminar this summer. Mittelstedt ​accepted her award at the annual Fulton County Law Week ceremony on May 1 at the State Bar of Georgia headquarters.

Mittelstedt went through an extensive application and interview process for the scholarship, competing with outstanding​ high school students from across Metro Atlanta. The scholarship covers round-trip airfare, tuition, room and board, and all expenses associated with the Washington Workshop Congressional Seminar. Malone Law is sponsoring Mittelstedt’s scholarship.

The 2018 summer workshop offers a unique experience to study American government and history with 10-12th grade students from across the country. During their week in Washington, D.C., students will attend meetings of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court, and will become acquainted with other governmental offices and institutions. They will also attend an event at the historic Dumbarton house, national headquarters of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.​

McCleskey Selected to Attend Hugh O'Brian Leadership Seminar
Congratulations rising junior Chandler McCleskey (Class of 2020) for being chosen to represent the Raiders at this summer's Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Seminar. He will join over 200 other HOBY Ambassadors from Northwest Georgia at Agnes Scott College June 1-3, 2018. The ambassadors already demonstrate leadership in their schools and communities, and the HOBY seminar provides a unique leadership training, service-learning, and motivation-building experience. Founded in 1958, HOBY’s mission is to inspire and develop a global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY ambassadors develop a lifelong dedication to improving the lives of others.​

Two Seniors Win Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce Scholarships
Congratulations to Alina Cortes and Valeria Atempa (Class of 2018) for winning college scholarships from the Sandy Springs Perime​​ter Chamber of Commerce. Cortes and Atempa each received $1,​000 from the Donna Adams Mahaffey Scholarship Fund. The fund began in 2015 with the goal of inspiring female graduates to attend college. Recipients must fulfill grade and application requirements and show financial need. According to the scholarship committee, “These scholarships instill children with the concept that regardless of their financial situation, they too can receive a higher education."​


April 2018 Headlines

SAIL Marks 6th Successful Year
The Raider Counseling Center recently hosted a breakfast honoring this year's Seniors Achieving in Life (SAIL) participants. Approximately 60 students, mentors, and staff members attended the April breakfast in the school cafeteria. The Sandy Springs Education Force (SSEF), a long-time supporter of the SAIL program, funded the event. A highlight of the morning was hearing the students announce where they will be attending college.

Now in its sixth year, the SAIL program had 42 student participants and 28 mentors. The majority of the students completed the process and will be attending traditional 2- or 4-year colleges or technical colleges. The effect that SAIL has on students is life-changing. Notes SAIL participant, Auburn Jennings, “The SAIL program helped me a lot by encouraging me to go to college. My mentor was extremely supportive and is the reason why I’m attending Georgia State University this fall.”

SAIL participants partner with trained adult community volunteers who assist them in the often-daunting process of selecting and applying to colleges and technical schools. The Counseling Center identifies SAIL candidates as those who possess the grades and determination to pursue post-secondary education but who, by the middle of their senior year, have not begun the application process. Mentors work with students on a weekly basis, assisting them in applying for required testing, such as SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER. Over the course of the two months, adults guide the students through the process of filling out admissions documents, writing essays, requesting transcripts, completing financial aid documentation, and applying for scholarships. Mentors are volunteers from the community; many are current Riverwood parents, a few are former Riverwood parents, but a number are not directly connected to the school.​

The Sandy Springs Education Force provides funds to pay testing and application fees for students with financial hardships.​

Young Adult Author, Aaron Levy, Visits Sophomore Literature Classes
Young adult author, Aaron Levy, visited 10th Grade Literature Honors students in late April. Earlier in the semester, the sophomores read his debut young adult novel, Blood Don’t Lie. The book’s main character, 13-year-old Larry Ratner, is short, Jewish, and unpopular. As the story develops, Ratner copes with tough situations such as bullying, abuse, and the death of friends.

To prepare for Levy’s visit, additional assignments included writing a literary analysis of the book as well as conducting group discussions. As a result of their in-depth examination of the book’s themes, several students also created websites based on genocides throughout history. Language Arts teacher Christine Toledano leads two sections of 10th Grade Honors Literature. She said, “I thought it would be a great way to end our year with a Young Adult Fiction work from a local author.”

Levy read passages from his book and treated the classes to a discussion about the writing process. After his time at the school, Levy Tweeted it is “humbling how hard they’re thinking about my story.”

Levy, a former high school English teacher and Associate Professor of Creative Writing and English Education at Kennesaw State University, has been the Director of Academics for the Georgia Film Academy since 2016. His first work for young adults, Pizza With Shri​mp On Top, is a play which has enjoyed over 60 national and international productions. The play received a nomination for the 2007 Distinguished National Play Award for Middle and Secondary School Audiences.​​

Whole Kids Foundation Awards $2,000 Garden Grant
From over 1,300 applications, the Riverwood Foundation secured one of only 600 Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grants. The school will use the $2,000 to support their outdoor classroom and garden program, replacing a garden which closed in 2015 due to construction of the school’s new facilities. In addition to the funding, the school received a package of garden starter items including seeds from High Mowing Organics, a Honey Bee curriculum, and a Garden Resource Guide.

This is the second major grant secured this year by the Riverwood Foundation for the outdoor space. The Whole Kids grant, combined with an earlier $5,000 donation from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program, provides an impressive beginning to the garden. The garden will benefit a cross-section of programs and students from Environmental Science, Engineering, and Culinary Arts classes, as well as the community at large. The outdoor garden and classroom plan includes raised beds, retaining walls, a small orchard, a pollinator garden, herbs and annuals, a composting area, a walking path, and areas for small group discussions and collaboration.

Science Department Chair Patti Lawrimore said, “This project is the consummate opportunity to bring a diverse group of students together to learn important STEM lessons with real-world applications, while also benefiting the school and greater Sandy Springs community. Riverwood is unique in its ability to include and challenge students from a broad range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.” Added Culinary Arts Chef Elissa Oliver, “This is an amazing opportunity for students to understand where their food comes from and how to prepare it in a healthy and tasty manner. We are so lucky to have them support of our community as we venture into collaborative and inquiry based education.”

Principal Chuck Gardner added, “We are excited about providing our students with real world learning opportunities. Making the connection to where food comes from provides valuable, life-long lessons. We thank the Whole Kids Foundation for generously supporting this project.”

The Garden Grant Program, created in partnership with FoodCorps, helps schools and organizations connect students to real food through gardening. Whole Kids Foundation programs give school children in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as educational opportunities to learn about where their food comes from. “We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the Garden Grant Program,” says Nona Evans, executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “It is so inspiring to see the diversity and creativity in the types of gardens that will be planted across the country and the interaction between kids and their communities.”​

Revived French Honor Society Inducts New Members
The newly re-established French Honor Society, Société Honoraire de Français (SHF), inducted thirty-three new members on April 16, 2018. The induction ceremony, called “La Course du Flambeau” is based on the “passing of the torch” that took place in Ancient Greece.

The Raider chapter, chartered in 2012, fell inactive after only two years. Fortunately, passionate students and supportive teachers in the foreign language department worked together to revive the Society. Two seniors, Tate Poole and Jacky Martinez, played an integral role. According to French teacher and Society sponsor, Michelle Bohlen: “They did a lot of polite ‘nudging.” The students created an organizational structure, planned the induction ceremony, and helped with candidate selection. They were committed to helping the club get off the ground. Bohlen credits the students with a commitment to “leaving a great legacy for future Riverwood French students.”

Congratulations to this year's inductees: Katie Abbott, Anaïs Acree, Shelby Arrigo, Madeline Celestino, Remy Clayman, Alex Edge, Mahri Fair, Joey Fleming, Sophie Galvani, Haley Gruensfelder, Samantha Johnson, Isabel Jones, Trevor Kosloski, Josh Lerner, Elaina Levy, Jacky Martinez, Leslie Martinez, Chandler McCleskey, Julie Mittelstedt, Ella Morgan, Lillian Oelkers, Tate Poole, Sonya Reznikova, Rain-Marie Robertson, Natalie Roverse, Katie Scales, Marley Seymour, Eashan Sims, Julia Stahlman, Hannah Suggs, Khalil Thompson, Viha Umashankar, and Emily Woody. Tate Poole serves as president and Jacky Martinez is vice-president. ​

SHF joins the growing list of the school's honor societies. The American Association of Teachers of French first established the SHF in 1949.The aim of the SHF is to stimulate interest in the study of French, to promote high standards of scholarship, reward scholastic achievements, create enthusiasm for and an understanding of francophone culture and civilization, to promote and perpetuate international friendship, and to reward efforts toward furthering solidarity in the French-speaking world.​

PTSA Awards Five Class of 2018 Scholarships
Congratulations to Ellie Addington, Justin Coleman, Jocelyn Gonzalez, Sonya Reznikov, and Daniela Zepeda for each winning a $1,000 college scholarship from the PTSA. The winning applicants exemplify well-roundedness, academic achievement, leadership ability, motivation, and character, as well as demonstrating financial need. The PTSA is grateful to the generous support of the parents and teachers who provide funding for the scholarships and many other campus programs. ​

Raiders Announce Three Governor's Honors Students
Congratulations to Riley Mehrman (Engineering), Shreya Rekapali (History), and Jayden Richardson (Music) for being selected to attend the prestigious 2018 Governor’s Honors Program (GHP) this summer.

The 2018 GHP will be held on the campus of Berry College in Rome, Georgia. The Governor’s Honors Program is a four-week, summer residential program for gifted and talented high school students in the state of Georgia. The instructional program is designed to provide enriching and challenging educational opportunities for intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students. Those attending GHP are nominated by teachers and then must pass two rigorous interviews and/or auditions. Less than 1% of Georgia’s high school students qualify for this honor. ​

Pargman Wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
Congratulations to junior Syd Pargman for receiving the 2018 Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Representing the Atlanta region, he joins award-winning students from 26 other regions across the country.

Pargman, an International​ Baccalaureate (IB) Programme Candidate, was chosen for his work related to his project called RALI: Race Across Lines Initiative. For his Middle Years Project (MYP), a component of the IB Programme, he questioned how a racially diverse school such as Riverwood could be so racially separate. Said Pargman, “This obviously is not Riverwood’s fault; this is just a matter of how kids are more comfortable around other kids of the same race. This led me to begin RALI.” He began his project by interviewing student athletes of diverse races. Added Pargman, “I found that when working for a common goal, racial barriers break down when everyone works together to win.”

Aside from summarizing his findings for his MYP Project, he also held a “Quiz Bowl” to encourage students of different races to experience working together for a common goal. The Quiz Bowl provided a place other than the playing field or court for over 70 youth to work together. Added Pargman, “We succeeded in bringing together teams of people from diverse backgrounds. As predicted, each participant brought something different to the table and it was great to see the participants work together and form new bonds.”

Pargman has a love of math and physics and plans to study finance or biomedical engineering in college. He is on the Raider Varsity Baseball team and serves as a tutor in the Raider Writing Center. Christy Toledano, head of the Writing Center, added, “ Syd Pargman is a dynamic tutor in our Raider Writing Center. He is a Renaissance man who can tutor in all subjects including IB math, AP World, APUSH, IB Physics, and any Literature class.”

Pargman flew to Princeton at the end of April to meet the other recipients. The winners receive a cash prize of $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid weekend to a national symposium on race at Princeton University.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations (PPRR) recognizes and awards high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities through their volunteer efforts. The PPRR was founded in the fall of 2003 by Henry Von Kohorn '66, who recognized the need to support and encourage young high school students committed to fostering positive race relations within their communities. Von Kohorn's vision was founded on the notion that early encouragement, reward and support for these students would motivate them to continue this critical work in college and beyond. Since its inception, the PPRR has awarded over 300 prizes. ​

Abney and Schneider are National Merit Scholarship Finalists
Congratulations to Seniors Saya Abney and Lily Schneider for advancing from the semifinalist to the finalist stage of the 2018 National Merit Scholarship program. They are in the running to compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, plus over 1,200 corporate scholarships, and approximately 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarships. 

Abney, the Class of 2018 Valedictorian, is yet undecided about where she will continue her education, but aspires to attend law school after college. Schneider will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology where she plans to study chemistry and engineering.​

Raider Artists at 2018 Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Friday, April 13 - Sunday, April 15
Atlanta High School Art Exhibition
Congratulations to the three Raider artists with works in the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition. On display during the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, visitors can vote for their favorite pieces in the Audience Choice Awards. Representing the Raiders are Mary Crawford Esslinger (painting), Arthur Miltner (print), and Clara Bensimon (drawing). The exhibit is near the Piedmont Road entrance, just past 10th street,​ in the same building as Moe's.

Advanced Placement Test Results Earn Honors
The Georgia Department of Education named Riverwood a 2018 AP STEM school, an AP Humanities School, and an AP Access and Support School based on the Spring 2017 Advanced Placement scores. Congratulations to the students and teachers for their hard work.

The STEM award recognizes schools with achievement in AP Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics courses. An AP STEM school has students testing in at least two AP Math and two AP Science courses. 213 high schools in Georgia earned this designation in 2018.

An AP Humanities School has students testing in all of the following AP courses: at least one English/Language Arts course, two social science courses, one fine arts course, and one world language course. The Georgia Department of Education added the AP Humanities category in 2015 and Riverwood has earned this designation every year since it began. In 2018, only 134 high schools in Georgia made the AP Humanities list.

An AP Access and Support School has at least 30 percent of their AP exams taken by students who identified themselves as African American and/or Hispanic, and 30 percent of all AP exams earning scores of three or higher. Only 68 high schools in Georgia earned this designation in 2018.​

Winterguard Wins First Place at National Championships
The Raider Winterguard, formed just over a year ago, wrapped up their 2018 season by attending the Southern Association for Performance Arts (SAPA) Championships in Chattanooga on Saturday, April 7. The 2018 season began in January and the Raiders participated in five shows in the metro area, garnering medals and accolades as they progressed to the National Championships. Their award-winning show featured “Seize the Day” from the Broadway show “Newsies.” Congratulations to the Raiders for scoring the highest of any group in their classification (Scholastic Regional A) in addition to winning the gold medal for their division. View the 19-member Winterguard's winning performance, directed by Marshelley McGhee and instructor Daniel Chung (link) 

Raiders Return to Nicaragua During Spring Break 2018
Twenty-four students and four faculty spent their 2018 Spring Break supporting the 28 de Mayo community, a neighborhood in the city of Leon, Nicaragua. This was the Community Service Club’s second spring break in Leon. Last year, the major project was assembling and distributing water filters; this year’s project was much more ambitious: building homes for two families. Over the course of the week, the volunteers built two homes and brought joy and encouragement to the community.

In addition to building the houses, the group donated care packages to eighty-seven families. Each family received enough rice, beans, toilet paper, cooking oil, coffee, and sugar to last from one to two weeks. Amanda Weaver, Raider Community Service Club Co-Advisor and Math Teacher said, “It was easy to see how much this meant to the families. There were huge smiles, hugs, and even some tears as we handed out the bags.” During the week, the student volunteers led arts and crafts, played soccer and other games with the children, and held an ice cream social.

Earlier in the school year, the Community Service Club held its Second Annual “Run for a Reason 5K” to raise funds for the construction materials and supply bags. While individual students raised funds to pay for their travel, the Riverwood Foundation’s Global Citizenship Initiative enabled the faculty and staff to take the international trip.

Said Assistant Principal Scott Kent, Administrative Liaison to the Riverwood Foundation, “These programs help our students gain real experience and a first hand view of real life beyond our borders.” The Riverwood Foundation raises funds and develops partnerships to ensure success for the school’s long-term strategic academic objectives, including Global Citizenship.

Added student Kaci Kruglewicz, “This was my first service trip, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I can’t believe that I built a house for someone. The best part of the trip by far was seeing how our work affected not only the family we built the house for, but the community. In just one short week, coming in not knowing any Spanish at all, I developed such strong bonds with the people there. I would love to return to Nicaragua and help more people in need.” While in Nicaragua, the group took a cathedral tour in city of Leon and a boat tour in the city of Grenada. A highlight of the week was a group dinner on the beach.

March 2018 Headlines

2018 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Announced
Congratulations to Saya Abney, Valedictorian, and Dori Balser, Salutatorian. Graduation 2018 is at 3pm on Thursday, May 24, at the Cobb Energy Centre.

Valedictorian Saya Abney (pictured left) is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme Candidate and plans to double-major in physics/aerospace engineering and sociology/ethnic studies. She is yet undecided about where she will continue her education, but aspires to attend law school after college. Abney is the Raiders' 2018 STAR Student, a National Merit Scholar Finalist, and an AP Scholar. She received the Georgia Certificate of Merit as well as the Harvard Prize Book Award. As Co-Captain of the Raider Policy Debate Team, Abney helped restart the team as a Freshman, has coached other team members for four years, and has had many successes in debate competitions​. Passionate about education and social justice, Abney serves as an AP World History Tutor, tutors ESOL students in math, and volunteers to coach and judge middle school debate tournaments through the Atlanta Urban Debate League. Abney is a member of the National Spanish Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the National Beta Club.​

Salutatorian Dori Balser (pictured right) plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall. She is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme candidate and is the Student Body Vice President. Earlier this year, Balser received the Princeton Club’s 2017 Woodrow Wilson Community Service Award and was honored at the Georgia State Capitol. She is one of only 16 high school students selected to serve on the Youth Board of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, and currently serves as a co-chair. Balser was a 2016 "HOBY Ambassador," representing the Raiders at the Hugh O'Brian Summer Youth Leadership Conference. She is a school​ Ambassador and an AP World History Tutor. Balser is a member of the National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, the National Spanish Honor Society, and the National Beta Club.​

National Art Honor Society Conference Awards
The Raider Chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) sent 20 art students to the 28th Annual NAHS Conference in Columbus. Held over two jam-packed days in early March 2018 at Columbus State University, the Raiders participated in an Art Throwdown, attended a variety of workshops, and glimpsed the possibilities of life as a college art student. The Raider artists won first place in a collaborative painting project, advanced to the finals in “the Great Face Off” challenge, and enjoyed entering pieces in several other competitions. A highlight of the weekend was seeing their teacher, Dana Munson, receive the 2018 Dr. Helen Fleming Stone Distinguished Teacher of the Year award.

Munson said “I am so honored to be the second recipient of the distinguished teacher of the year award. Although I was surprised and humbled to be recognized by my peers, the best part of the evening was that my students were with me. It was a special evening.”

The award, named after Dr. Helen Fleming Stone, began in 2017. Dr. Stone was a Georgia art educator for 49 years. She was also a gifted sculptor and potter. Stone started the Helen Fleming Stone Foundation and sold her own artwork to create a scholarship fund for National Art Honor Society students.

The State NAHS Conference, taught by Art Educators, Professors, and Museum Educators from across the state, brings high school artists together for not only for instruction but also for a chance to exhibit their work. Additionally, students had the opportunity to have their portfolios reviewed by Columbus State faculty. ​

2018 State Science Fair Awards
Four Raiders received a combined ten awards at the 70th Georgia Science & Engineering Fair. More than 750 students from across Georgia competed in Athens for more than $30,000 in prizes and awards during the March 22-24 event. Max Seidel, Tyara Thompson, Coleman Alvarez, and Ryan Stoddard advanced from the February 2018 Fulton Regional Science & Engineering Fair to exhibit in the State fair.

Max Seidel's project, entitled “Achieving Superhuman Strength with McKibben Air Muscles,” won seven different awards. Seidel (pictured left) won the Biophysics Award, the Inspiring Excellence Award, the Prosthetics and Orthotics Wearable Technology Award, as well as the Georgia Science & Engineering Fair “Best in Category: Robotics & Intelligent Machines Senior Division” Award.

Tyara Thompson's entry, named “Combating the Impact of Sub-concussive Hits on the Brain,” won two awards, including the Augusta University Award. (Thompson, pictured right)

Coleman Alvarez and Ryan Stoddard received the 4th Honors Award for their project “Using Robotics to Teach Sign Language.”

“Science Fair is very valuable for students because it challenges them and gives them hands-on experience in conducting research, collecting data, analyzing data, and growing as budding scientists,” notes Science faculty member and Science Fair Coordinator Lakshmi Anumukonda. “It also helps students to go beyond what they are learning in the classroom using scientific experimentation. This is a stepping-stone for their success. I am really proud of these students, who are our future leaders.”​

Silver Medalists at State Hot Food Competition
Coming off a win earlier in the semester at the Regional contest, three students from the Culinary Arts program advanced to the March 2018 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) State Hot Food Culinary Competition. Congratulations to Senior Julia Dias and sophomores Silvia Diaz and Christel Wallace for ​winning silver medals for their outstanding menu and culinary creations. In the state challenge, the students received an 8 oz. piece of pork loin and were asked to prepare a salad and entrées that included the pork. Their salad creation was a Wedge Salad with Buttermilk and Blue Cheese Foam, Cherry Tomatoes, and Lardons. For their entrée, they created a Pork Trio that consisted of Pork Sausage wrapped in Prosciutto over Sweet Potato Mash, Sautéed Collard Greens with Fried Black Eyed peas and Bacon Powder, and Smoked BBQ Pork Loin over Cheese Grits. The judges awarded points for flavor, presentation, safety, and sanitation. The competition took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Atlanta.

​Raider FBLA Wins State Awards, Three Students Advance to Nationals
The Raider Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter attended the FBLA State Leadership Conference in March. The conference included workshops and competitions in a variety of business-related events.

At the state conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta from March 23-24, 2018, three Raiders received Business Achievement Awards. Congratulations to David Antonino, winner at the America Level, and to Chandler McCleskey and Shreya Rekapalli, acknowledged at both Future, Business, and the Leader Levels. Antonino received an invitation to participate at the National Leadership Conference (NLC) taking place in Baltimore, Maryland this summer. The Business Achievement Awards Program recognizes levels of leadership achievement, each consisting of business, education, and leadership elements.

In addition to Antonino, two other Raiders won at the state event and qualified to advance to the NLC. Luca Maddaleni placed 1st in Help Desk and 6th place in Computer Problem Solving. Chandler McCleskey placed 2nd in Sales Presentation and 4th in Introduction to FBLA. Both Maddaleni and McCleskey will attend and compete at the NLC.

The Raider chapter also won the Bronze Award for Chapter of the Year. This award recognizes chapter management, membership recruitment, public relations, service projects, conference participation, and FBLA programs and projects. FBLA advisers are Paula Chesser, Michelle Finley, and Veronica Randolph. ​

​March 2018 Novice & JV National Championships
Congratulations to the three JV Debate teams -- Neha Devinei and Noel Crenshaw, Cecilia Palmar and Blake Jones, and Ricardo Ruiz and Luke Powell -- ​for successfully competing in the 2018 Novice and JV National Championships. Held at Woodward Academy the weekend of March ​23, the tournament featured 47 teams from 12 states. Each of the three Raider JV teams earned a 2-4 record. Seniors and Debate Co-Captains Julia Dias and Saya Abney supported the Junior Varsity members by coaching and judging rounds. Saya Abney received special recognition from the tournament with an “Outstanding Student Judge” award.  ​

GMEA All-State Music News:  Four Musicians Represent the Raiders

​Through a series of highly competitive auditions, the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) selects high school musicians from across the state for the annual All-State events. The Raiders are proud to announce four winners participating in this year's competitions which concluded with weekend workshops and performances at the Classic Center in Athens. 

Congratulations to seniors Robert Breeser (trumpet) and Arthur Miltner (trombone) for making both the 2017-18 All-State Jazz Ensemble and the 2017-18 All-State Band. The GMEA All-State Jazz Ensemble was January 25-27, 2018; the GMEA All-State Band was March 1-3, 2018. Congratulations to sophomore Neha Devineni (pictured far right) for earning a spot in the February 15-17, 2018, All-State Chorus. And congratulations also to freshman Madeline Chen​​ (harp, pictured far left​) for being chosen to the All-State Orchestra. The All-State Orchestra was March 1-3, 2018. 

Raiders Hosting Two French Students
The Raiders are hosting two exchange students from France this year. Louis Galli travelled from Perigueux in southwest France on a Rotary International exchange program. Jean Deroubaix hails from Lille, on the Belgian border, and is here through an AFS Intercultural Program. Both students, native French speakers, are taking a full schedule of classes during the 2017-18 school year.

“Riverwood has been fun because it’s an American school,” notes Galli (pictured right). “It is completely different from France. I like that the teachers are friendly and you get to select your own schedule. In France, the administration gives you a schedule.” Galli, a 10th grader, is a member of the Raiders Junior Varsity Basketball Team, as well as the French and Photography Clubs. He lives with a host family in Sandy Springs and will stay with three different families over the course of his nine-month stay. He chose to come to the United States in order to experience the culture and language. His father is a Rotarian, which made him eligible for the exchange program.

Deroubaix (pictured left) is a senior taking advanced level courses, including AP Calculus and AP Statistics. He came to the United States to “discover something new” and finds the US to be “totally different from France.” He joined the Cross Country team and made many friends during the fall. Additionally, Deroubaix made the Varsity Boys Tennis team this spring. He hopes to be able to participate in the school's commencement ceremony on May 24, even though he will receive a diploma from his private high school in France.

Both students indicated that the food in the United States pales in comparison to what they enjoy at home. However, they did note that American people eat more and eat out more often.​

Counselor Sally Page is the foreign exchange coordinator. She remarked​, “Having exchange students at Riverwood fits perfectly with the "International" focus in our school's name and mission. Giving our students the opportunity to interact with students from other countries enriches their lives and broadens their experiences." 

2017-18 Teacher of the Year & Professional of the Year
Congratulations to Jerome Dunson for being named the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year and to Tami Walton for being named the 2017-18 Professional of the Year. Faculty and staff nominated and voted for this year’s recipients. New to the process this year was the participation of the student body. The honorees received their awards at a March faculty meeting and, as a surprise, had their families present in the auditorium to witness the presentations.​

​​Jerome Dunson joined the Raider faculty in 2013 and teaches US History, International Affairs, and Economics. He works with students in the Career Technology Instruction (CTI) program, serves as Assistant Varsity Boys Basketball Coach, and is a member of the school’s Governance Council. 

Dunson, an Atlanta native, grew up in College Park and earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a minor in History at the University of West Georgia. Outside of school, Dunson is an avid basketball enthusiast and movie connoisseur, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. 

When asked about the best part of his work, Dunson replied, “[it is] being able to make a difference academically and socially in the lives of students as they transition into young adulthood. I am truly thankful to be able to work in an environment with such wonderful students and professionals, doing a service I’m passionate about.” 

Principal Chuck Gardner added, “His students receive top notch instruction every day and his calm demeanor is a stabilizing force for so many students.”  ​

​Tami Walton joined the Raider Administrative Team in 2016. She is responsible for all of the school finances, including receiving and disbursing funds, and maintaining the cost center and local school budgets. 

Walton came to Fulton County via Cobb County Schools where she worked for 12 years as a Bookkeeper. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Walton holds a degree in Human Services from Mercer University. She is currently working to complete a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. 

Married with three children, she also enjoys time with her 10 year old Shih Tzu named Gizmo. 

About Walton, Principal Gardner stated, “She always has a smile on her face and stays calm under pressure. Her patience is incredible and she is a comforting presence to everyone.”​​

Choral Groups Earn High Marks at Large Group Performance Evaluation
Congratulations to the Raider Choral groups for their outstanding performances at the Spring 2018 Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE). The Advanced Men’s Chorus, the Intermediate/Advanced Women’s Chorus, and the Riverwood Singers, totaling more than 125 students, traveled to Grace United Methodist Church in Midtown Atlanta on Thursday, March 1, 2018 for their biggest and most important performance of the year. Each group sang extremely well. The Men's group and the Mixed Ensemble received overall "Superior" ratings; the Advanced Women received an "Excellent" rating.

February 2018 Headlines​

Raiders Welcome Actress Reece Odum & Filmmaker James Hammond to Campus
Audio Video Technology and Film (AVTF) students welcomed Reece Odum and James Hammond to their alma mater in February. Odum and Hammond conducted a live studio information session before AVTF students about preparing for a career in TV and Film. The production, directed by current student Mikelah Rodolfo, consisted of an all student crew. Students were treated to open and honest conversation about how to present themselves in public, reminders about online etiquette, and the importance of getting hands-on training while in high school. In addition to making a real-world connection to alumni in the industry, bringing Odum and Hammond to campus was a natural complement to this semester’s nine week Georgia Film Academy (GFA) Film curriculum.

Odum, (Class of 1991) is an award winning actress and native of Atlanta. She spent time with students, sharing her experiences as an actress, model, and producer. During the event, Odum received a 36x24 poster commemorating her homecoming.

Odum recently landed recurring roles on season eight of CW's "The Vampire Diaries" and Bounce TV's "Saints and Sinners" season two. Her film and television shows include: TV One's "The Secret She Kept," Oxygen's "Killer Posts," BET Centric's "What Love Will Make You Do," BET's "Mr. Right," UPtv's " Lyfe's Journey" and "The Wish."

Hammond (Class of 2001) is the founder of Ikon Filmworks, a full service video production company that offers an expanded suite of high quality Audio & Video services. Ikon clients include the American Cancer Society, the City of Atlanta, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Turner Broadcasting, and more. ​

Ceremonial Groundbreaking:  Foundation Wins $5,000 Lowe's 
Toolbox for Education Grant
With a generous donation from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program, the Riverwood Foundation will create an outdoor classroom and garden. The new outdoor space will benefit a cross-section of programs and students, and the community at large. The $5,000 grant is for a cooperative, student-led garden. The planning group includes students from Environmental Science, Engineering, and Culinary Arts classes. A major goal is to include meaningful participation from not only the Science, Engineering, and Culinary students, but also the Community Based Instruction (CBI) students as well as members of the Recycling Club.

The students’ vision for the outdoor garden and classroom includes raised beds, retaining walls, a small orchard, a pollinator garden, herbs and annuals, a composting area, a walking path, and areas for small group discussions and collaboration. The Environmental Science students will explore soil systems, human population carrying capacity, biodiversity, and conservation. Engineering students will address soil management, erosion, and harvesting methods. Culinary Arts classes will use the edible forest to practice and understand sustainability and farm to table cuisine. The CBI students will gain life and job skills training, while experiencing hands-on STEM studies and working side-by-side with their peers. The Recycling Club plans to compost coffee, shredded paper, and food waste to reduce the school’s solid waste stream.

Due to construction of new facilities at the school, the previous outdoor garden closed in 2015. The Lowe’s grant allows the school to create an even better outdoor learning environment that will connect even more disciplines and learning methods. Students also plan to share the bounty of their garden with the local Sandy Springs community by providing seasonal vegetables to elementary students attending the Sandy Springs Mission’s after school tutoring program.

Says Science Department Chair Patricia Lawrimore, “Permaculture (trees, bushes, etc.) is the way of the future when you have an urban environment. This space will help these students understand where their food comes from and how easy it is (with proper planning) to supply food without all of the environmental costs associated with industrialized farming, transporting that food, and processing. The school will continue to reduce its ecological footprint while teaching how to live more sustainably in an urban environment.”

This new garden area is designed to scale-up in size as the program grows. The plan is to add more active beds and create access to even more curriculums over time. Instruction will eventually tackle topics such as how to prune fruit trees to maximize harvest and how to maximize herb growth. Students will examine questions like “will a polyculture site produce more than a monoculture site?” or “what watering system is best for different crops and the environment (drip, soakers, aerial sprayers) while maintaining economic efficiency?” Eventually, the space will support lessons on solar panels, windmills for pumps, and on how to maximize harvest with organic/inorganic mix soil supplements.

Principal Chuck Gardner added, “We are excited about providing our students with real world learning opportunities. This project will allow us to create an interdisciplinary learning experience involving our science department, engineering program, and culinary arts program. We thank our community partners at Lowe’s for generously supporting this project.”

Since its inception in 2005, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education has provided more than $45 million in grants to more than 10,000 schools, benefiting more than 6 million schoolchildren. 
Learn more: ToolboxforEducation.com.

Spanish National Honor Society Inducts New Members
The Raider chapter of the Spanish National Honor Society inducted 26 new members on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. The Spanish National Honor Society is an academic organization dedicated to promote the study of the Spanish Language and the culture of Hispanic countries. The 2017-18 officers are ​Saya Abney, Samaria Driver, Mary Crawford Esslinger, Abigail Flores, and Ethan Wells​. Donna Vargas is the faculty sponsor.

Congratulations to the newest members of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica:  David Androsch, Edgar Avalos Loaeza, Samantha Berke, America Betancourt, Will Boa, Caitlin Bozarth, Anaya Chennault, Jan Colon, Oliver Davidson, Neha Devineni, Rachel Drakeford, Graci Goldstein, Eemil Harkonen, Hayes Miller, Nora Powell, Regan Price, ​Sarah Rosenbloum, Martha Ross, Max Seidel, Finn Shuster, Kiara Simmons, Samantha Smith, Sofie Stroeva, Angela Velez, Mya White, and Robbie Winn.​

Stahlman Wins Prudential Community Service Award
Congratulations to junior, Julia Stahlman, for being named a Distinguished Finalist in the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. One of only six Georgia Distinguished Finalists, Stahlman received an engraved bronze medal from Leilani Plendl, Prudential Financial Professional, on February 26. The Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Stahlman, an IB Diploma Candidate, founded “Art for Art,” a non-profit organization that supports children living in poverty in Africa. “Art for Art” showcases the African​ children's artwork in the U.S. and raises money for education programs. She also created a student-led initiative to promote safe drinking water and raise awareness about a common contaminant. ​

Winterguard Wins 1st Place at Villa Rica
Congratulations to the Raider Winterguard for their First Place finish at the 2018 Villa Rica competition. Held Saturday, February 24, 2018, the "Newsies" won the Novice class division by five points. In an exciting trend, the Raiders scored 15 points higher than their previous performance. 

Next on the schedule is the Flowery Branch Invitational. The Newsies perform at 12 noon on Saturday, March 17. 

Local, State, and Regional Art Competition Success
At the local level, ten Raider artists had pieces selected for the 2018 ​North Fulton High School Art Exhibition and Competition. Sponsored by the Roswell Visual Arts Center and the Roswell Fine Arts Alliance, the show highlights the exceptional work of public high school students from across the North Fulton area. Congratulations to Reina Abernathy, Ellie Addington, Molly Antebi, Clara Bensimon, Mary Crawford Esslinger, Josephine Johnson, Destynee Jones, Fernanda Lopes, Isis Mayfield, and Arthur Miltner for having their artwork selected for the exhibition and competition. Congratulations also to Clara Bensimon for winning “Best in Show." Her entry (pictured right) advances to the Georgia Kiwanis District Art and Music Showcase. The district showcase is at the Mercer University, Macon campus in early March, 2018.

At the state level, six Riverwood students had pieces on display at the 2018 Georgia Capitol Art Exhibition. Congratulations to Molly Antebi, Michelle Brannon, Becky Greenberg, Holly Hunsaker, Rina Loubatan, and Nodoka Shimizu. (Shimizu, pictured left) Sponsored by the Georgia Art Education Association, this annual exhibition provides a showcase for student artwork and allows Georgia legislators an opportunity to see the beautiful results of arts education in schools.

At the regional level, six Riverwood students had work selected to the Southeast Region Scholastic Art and Writing Program. Congratulations to Becky Greenberg and Clara Bensimon for receiving the Silver Key Award. Honorable Mention went to Ellie Addington, Jenny Barnes, Camile Grout, and Maeve Munson. Special commendation goes to Clara Bensimon as her entire art portfolio also received Honorable Mention. The prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing program recognizes the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth, and provides opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated.​

Japanese National Honor Society Induction
Congratulations to the eleven newest members of the Raider chapter of the Japanese National Honor Society:  Renee Al-Noubani, Yuuki Ando, Hind Eddouh, Eemil Harkonen, Holly Hunsaker, Isabella Newstead, Nodoka Shimizu, Brianna Smith, Collin Stice, Madison Ta, and Max Valente. These students joined the ten other Society members in a ceremony on Thursday, February 22, 2018. All members are honor students in the Japanese language program, taught by Dr. Azusa Callaway, who also serves as the Japanese Honor Society faculty advisor. Junior Maddy Nagley and sophomore Sharon Lim are this year's officers.​

FCCLA Trio Qualifies for State Hot Competition
Congratulations to Senior Julia Dias and sophomores Silvia Diaz and Christel Wallace for their outstanding performance in the recent Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Regional Hot Food Culinary Competition. The students qualified to advance to the FCCLA 2018 State Culinary hot competition in March. 

In the regional event, the students received a 4-ounce piece of pork loin and were asked to prepare a salad and an entrée that included the pork, as well as a vegetable and a starch accompaniment. They created an Asian Crunch Salad, Pork Bulgogi with Jasmine Rice, and a Trio of Pickles for evaluation. The judges awarded points for flavor, presentation, safety, and sanitation. 

While the Raider FCCLA club has advanced to the state level competition before, this is the first time they have qualified in the hot foods category. The state competition is March 10 in downtown Atlanta, with the winners proceeding to the national contest, also being held this year in Atlanta.

National Honor Society Induction
The Raider chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) inducted fifty two new members on Tuesday, February 15, 2018. The 2017-18 NHS officers are Whit Blass (President), Caroline Price (Vice President), Morgan Finch (Secretary), and Anna Davis (Event Coordinator). Laura Taylor is the NHS faculty advisor. NHS students seek to promote service, leadership, scholarship, and character.

Congratulations to the following inductees:  Celine Al-Noubani, David Androsch, Nate Arney, Edgar Avalos Loaeza, Jordan Balkcom, Lizzie Begle, Khyla Lynnett Bell, Yotam Ben-Bassat, Caitlin Bozarth, Mariette Jian Brannan, John Emery Buehner, Sara Eve Caruthers, Remy Olivia Clayman, Sarah Melissa Cohen, Jordan Coleman, ​Justin Coleman, Srujani Das, Rachel Drakeford, Native Sioux Ling Ervin, Graci​ Goldstein, Emily Greenslade, Haley Gruensfelder, Eemil Harkonen, Grace Hirsch, Ethan Gabriel Hunt, Kavan Husney, Sam Jenkins, Sam Johnson, Daisy Grace Leepson, Elaina Rose Levy, Taylor Lundell, Julie Mittelstedt, Madison Nagley, Rachel​ Nichols, Sydney Pargman, Luke Christian Pollydore, Ella Ponsell, Mahzuza Rahaman, Shreya Rekapalli, Martha Ross, Hayden Daniel Rubin, Katherine Susan Scales, Marley Seymour, Kiara Ivola Simmons, Anahla Kielle Sparks, Julia Stahlman, Michelle Grace Stanek, Sofie Stroeva, Ethan DeBruicker Terrell, Armani Thompson, Ethan James Wells, and Hannah Miriam York​.​

Orchestra Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE)
Congratulations to the three Raider ​orchestra groups which participated in the Spring 2018 Large Group Performance Evaluations. Held over two days at Roswell High School, the Raider Orchestra is proud of their results:
Mastery earned a "Superior"
Advanced earned an "Excellent"
Intermediate earned an "Excellent"

Fall 2017 Honor Roll and Principal’s List Announced

Honor Roll students achieved a cumulative average between 90-94.9 and will be recognized during the school day on Wednesday, February 14. Principal’s List students earned a cumulative grade point average of 95 or higher; they will be recognized during the school day on Thursday, February 15. Congratulations to these outstanding scholars for a successful semester and for their demonstrated commitment to academic excellence.  
                             2017 Fall Honor Roll and Principal's List

JV Debater is 10th Speaker at State Championship

Carrollton High School hosted 26 Novice teams and 16 JV teams February 9-10, 2018 for the 1st & 2nd Year State Debate Championship. 

​Congratulations to Raider debater Neha Devineni for placing as 10th Speaker in the JV Championship. Other JV debaters were: Noel Crenshaw, Cecilia Palmar, Blake Jones, Ricardo Ruiz, and Luke Powel. Competing in the Novice Division were Ysabella Lopez and Jonah Hirsch

2018 Georgia Thespian Conference (ThesCon)
Thanks to the teacher and parent chaperones, 12 Raiders were able to attend the 2018 Georgia Thespian Conference (ThesCon). Ellie Addington, David Antonino, Harris Cohen, Lucy Howard, Sam Johnson, Isabel Jones, Jack Kurlander, Adir Man, Lillian Oelkers, Caroline Price, Christian Terrell, and Joe Virgin  participated in a weekend of theatre from the inside-out. Held in downtown Columbus February 8-10, more than 5,000 students from all over the state converged for a full slate of workshops, performances, and even college auditions. Among the variety of workshops this year, the Raider Thespians explored dance, stage combat, and acting skills. Over the three-day conference, students saw five shows -- both musicals and dramas -- as well as a showcase of exceptional individual performances. Sponsored by the Georgia Thespians, a chapter of the Education Theatre Association, ThesCon encourages, promotes, advocates and celebrates theatre excellence in schools and communities.​


Raider FBLA 2018 Region Conference News
The Raider chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competed at the 2018 Region 9 Leadership Conference. Held at Alpharetta High School on February 5, 2018, students competed in a variety of business events throughout the day. Several Raiders claimed top honors and qualified to participate at the upcoming State competition. The Georgia 2018 State Leadership Conference is March 23-24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta. Paula Chesser and Michel​le Finley are the FBLA chapter advis​ors.

Congratulations to the following students:

     Help Desk:  Luca Maddaleni, 1st place (advances to state)

     Intro to Information Technology:  Jordan Tyner, 7th place (advances to state)​

     Job Interview:  Shreya Rekapalli, 2nd place

     Marketing:  David Antonino, 2nd place (advances to state)

     Sales Presentation:  Chandler McCleskey, 2nd place (advances to state)​

Beta Club Induction
The Raider chapter of the National Beta Club held its annual induction ceremony in the school auditorium on Thursday evening, February 1, 2018. Beta Club members demonstrate academic achievement, character, and leadership, plus a commitment to community service.

Congratulations to the newest members:  Anais Acree, Mallory Arrigo, Michael Arsic, Jazmin Beard, Tal Ben-Bassat, Samantha Berke, Ian Cannell, Selene Chancellor, Anaya Channault, Phillip Clendenin, Shayna Coffsky, Simon Coffsky, Oliver Davidson, Neha Devineni, Hind Eddouh, Brandon Embree, Davis Esslinger, Cole Fitzgerald, Joey Fleming, Elizabeth Frederick, Morgan Freeman, Sophie Galiano, Aleydys Hernandez, Monie Holligan, Eliana Horwitz, Cory Howlette, Kavan Husney, Bliss Igbokwe, Haag Johnson, Samantha Johnson, Samuel (Cody) Kaplan, Jessica Keen, Sean Khademi, Kaci Kruglewicz, Janiya Lamisere, Daniel Lewis, Sharon Lim, Jaren Linowes, Mariko Malm, Samantha Martin, Lila Mayers, Isis Mayfield, Chandler McClesky, Hanna McDaniel, Jahlyn McKie, John McLendon, Harry Mehre, Rachel Menikoff, Hayes Miller, Cindy Morales-Mier, Kristen Mosley, Adam Mualem, Jake Muse, Jill Olson, Joshua Peljovich, Lleyton Poole, Nora Powell, Regan Price, Mikelah Rodulfo, Casey Scheele, Caroline Shutley, Julia Sibert, Kiara Simmons, Eashan Sinha, Ciara Smith, Katie Sprung, Alisa Steel, Malcolm Stewart, Ryan Stoddard, Samuel Sullivan, Jake Surdykowski, Jermiya Tarrance, Ivan Tlasera-Espinal, Leslie Tornez-Cruz, Gavin Vines, and Zion Vital. This year's officers are:  Andrew Frinks and Ben Segal (Co-presidents), Becky Greenberg (Vice-President), Julie Mittelstedt (Treasurer), Syd Pargman (Secretary) and Elizabeth Brune (Historian). Richard Clayton is the faculty sponsor.​

January 2018 Headlines​

Freshman Wins Spot in Harvard Debate Council's Diversity Project
Congratulations to freshman, Jada Sweeting, for being selected to the inaugural class of the Harvard Debate Council's Diversity Project. Sweeting is one of only 25 metro Atlanta students to be selected. As such, she was also simultaneously accepted to the prestigious Harvard Debate Council’s summer residential program​ at Harvard College. The students, whose detailed applications indicated that they represent the three pillars of the program, Scholarship, Leadership and Culture, will meet twice a month for six months. Over the course of the six months they will cover a rigorous curriculum centered on critical thinking, research, analysis, and academic debate. They will also participate in leadership training, political activism, and cultural exploration focusing on the embodiment of the principle, “Lift as you Climb.” Harvard instructors will provide the intensive training to prepare the Diversity Project members for their study at Harvard College in July.

Sweeting, a member of the Student Government Association, serves as President of the Ninth Grade Class. She is also a Raider cheerleader and a member of the Raider Community Service Club. As a hobby, Sweeting creates tutorial/DIY videos for her YouTube channel. Her mother is Shamona Harrell, Riverwood's Head Counselor.

The Harvard Debate Council Diversity Program is an Atlanta-based diversity pipeline program designed to raise the young social and political voices in urban Atlanta and matriculate African-American students into the Harvard Debate Council’s summer residential program at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ​

Abney is STAR Student; Gribble is STAR Teacher
Saya Abney is the 2017-18 STAR Student; she chose Social Studies faculty member Daniel Gribble as her STAR teacher.

To obtain the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR), high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three-part SAT taken through the November test date of their senior year and be in the top ten percent, or top ten students, of their class based on grade point average. The STAR program honors Georgia's outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.

Abney is an IB Diploma Candidate and plans to major in physics or aerospace engineering. Already holding an acceptance from the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, she also has UC Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Emory, and Georgia Tech in her college choices. Abney aspires to attend law school after college.

Abney’s STAR teacher is Social Studies faculty member Daniel Gribble. Abney said, “ I picked Mr. Gribble as my STAR teacher because his classes encourage students to learn skills beyond the course content: reading comprehension, critical analysis, and time management. He cares about and supports his students while trying to ensure they can succeed on their own.”

Abney has an remarkable list of honors and achievements. She is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, received the Georgia Certificate of Merit, is an AP Scholar, and received the Harvard Prize Book Award. A member of the Principal’s Honor Roll for four years, she also received academic achievement awards in AP US History, AP World History, Spanish 4 Honors, Engineering and Technology, and Chinese 1. Abney was selected as a “Riverwood VIP” by her AP US History Teacher. In both 10th and 11th grades, her literature entry in the PTSA Reflections contest won at the school level; her 10th grade entry was the North Fulton Council Level Winner.

A vital member of the Raider Policy Debate Team, Abney led the effort to restart the team during her freshman year. She, along with her debate partner, Julia Dias, have been coaching the novice and JV debaters on the team for the last three years. Abney has had many successes in debate competitions, including winning the 15th Speaker out of 166 at the NDCS National Debate Championships in 2017. Coming in April 2018, she will compete at the prestigious Tournament of Champions. Abney brought the now annual “Big Questions Debate” tournament to Riverwood which serves to not only teach public speaking skills to fellow students but also serves as a critical fundraiser for the team. Reaching over 140 students, her efforts earned $5,000.

Passionate for education and social justice, she serves as an AP World History Tutor, started a weekly tutoring program for ESOL students, and volunteers to coach and judge middle school debate tournaments through the Atlanta Urban Debate League. Abney is a member of National Spanish Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the National Beta Club.

Says Gribble, “In an era where civil discourse is increasingly rare, Saya is a beacon of hope for civil society. Her ongoing efforts to promote debate within our community are rooted in a deeply held belief that rhetoric should not be weaponized, rather, it should be used as a tool that unites a diversity of peoples by breaking cycles of economic, educational, and social inequity.” During Gribble’s 17 years at Riverwood, he has taught 23 different subjects. He started his career in Math and transitioned to Social Studies via the world of competitive policy debate. He currently teaches AP World History and IB Theory of Knowledge courses. Gribble is the Extended Essay Coordinator, working with IB Diploma students to support them in their work as they research their subject; he coordinates mentor selection and sets program expectations and deadlines. He added, “To be named STAR Teacher by a student of Saya’s caliber is extremely rewarding both professionally and personally. I consider myself blessed to teach students that are curious, intellectually driven, and passionate about their studies. Saya represents the best of those characteristics and adds humility, kindness, and a gentleness of spirit that is exceedingly rare today.”

Abney and Gribble will be honored at a breakfast by the Midtown Rotary Club this spring at the annual PAGE Foundation STAR Banquet.​

Raiders Win​ Second Place Medals at Tech Fair
Congratulations to Senior Jose Venancio-Olea (left) and Sophomore Zoe Osborne (below, right)​ for their outstanding success at the 2018 Fulton County Technology Fair. Venancio-Olea received Second Place in Digital Photography Production for his piece “Beautiful Nature.” Osborne's Digital Video Production, “The Colour Red,” also won a Second Place award.

Held at Westlake High School on Saturday, January 27, this year's technology fair had more than 500 projects on display. The work of over 100 volunteers made possible the huge event for Fulton County School's Technology Department, classroom teachers, and student participants. Dr. Futrell, the Raiders' AVTF teacher and the 2018 Fulton Technology Fair Liaison reports, “this was the best run technology fair I have participated in during my 23 years with Fulton County Schools.” The next competition for the AVTF students is a national event March 15-18 at the Student Television Network in Nashville, Tennessee.

Two Tournaments in Five Days:  Pace Academy & Emory University
Congratulations to Debate Co-Captains Saya Abney and Julia Dias for their 5th place finish at the Pace Justin Wilson Round Robin held January 24-25 at Pace Academy, and their 17th place finish at the Emory University Barkley Forum Tournament January 26-28, 2018.  

It was a true honor to be invited to the Pace Academy Round Robin tournament. Only seven teams received invitations and, of the seven invited, six are ranked within the top 19 high school teams in the nation. The Raiders can be very proud of their 5th place finish (photo right)​. 

Following their success at Pace, the Raiders went to Emory for the three-day Barkley Forum. The Barkley Forum is the largest annual debate tournament held in the state. Individually, Dias won the 12th Speaker Award and Abney won the 16th Award out of 204 competitors.  ​

Raiders Announce Five Governor's Honors Semi-finalists
Congratulations to Neha Devineni (Mathematics), Samantha Johnson (Communicative Arts), Riley Mehrman (Engineering), Shreya Rekapalli (Social Studies), and Jayden Richardson (Music). These five students made it through the first round the 2018 Governor’s Honors Program (GHP) competition. Following interviews at the end of February, the students will find out in March if they have been selected for this year's GHP. 

GHP is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students; this year’s GHP is at Berry College in Rome. While living on campus, students attend classes in the mornings and afternoons in specific areas of study, and participate in a wide variety of social and instructional opportunities every evening. The academic, cultural, and social enrichment provides skills to the rising juniors and seniors to help them become critical thinkers, innovators, and leaders.

Winterguard Opens Season at Etowah With 2nd Place Trophy
Congratulations to the Raider Winterguard for opening the 2017-18 season with a Second Place Trophy. The team, formed in February 2017, participated in its first competition of the year at Etowah High School on Saturday, January 20, 2018. Under the direction of community coach Marshelley McGhee, the Raiders were one of 11 units in the Novice class (for introductory and beginning levels). This year's team, which practices twice a week, has 19 young men and women. They plan to take their show, featuring music from the Broadway show "Newsies," to six competitions this spring. ​

Alpharetta Treasure Hunt Debate ​Tournament News

The Raiders sent 15 students to​ the 2018 Alpharetta Treasure Hunt Tournament on Saturday, January 20. Special mention goes to sophomore Josh Lerner for placing as the 9th Speaker Award in the Novice division. 

Varsity Division: Neha Devineni, Noel Crenshaw, Cecilia Palmar, Blake Jones, Ricardo Ruiz, and Luke Powell.

JV Division: Ysabella Lopez and Jonah Hirsch.

Novice Division: Josh Lerner, Macy Medlin-Hall, AJ Powell, Parker Pouncie, and Chandler Davis.

Coaching & Judging: Saya Abney & Julia Dias​

Zibitt is DAR 2017 Good Citizen
Congratulations to senior Atara Zibitt for being selected by the Sandy Springs chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), as the chapter’s 2017 Good Citizen. The NSDAR Good Citizen Award and Scholarship Contest, created in 1934, recognizes high school seniors who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities. These students are selected by their teachers and peers because they demonstrate these qualities to an outstanding degree.

​In addition to being judged on academic performance and school and community involvement, Zibitt wrote a compelling essay on this year’s topic “Our American Heritage and our Responsibility for Preserving It: How Has America Advanced the Cause of Freedom in the Rest of the World?” She also submitted two teacher recommendations. As a chapter winner, she now has the opportunity to advance toward a national scholarship.

Zibitt's many school activities include serving as an officer in the National Honor Society chapter, as well as in the Choral Department. She is also an involved member of the Model UN club. Zibitt spends six days a week on the Chattahoochee River rowing for the St. Andrew Rowing Club, a passion she intends to pursue when she matriculates at The University of Georgia next fall. Notes Zibitt, “I really am honored and humbled to have been chosen for this award. I generally strive to be a good peer, student, teammate, daughter, sister, and mentor; however, I realize now that I may have overlooked what it means to really be a good citizen. I think with the acceptance of this award, and throughout the process of writing and submitting my application(s), I have learned how to incorporate all aspects of my experiences -- whether that be supporting my boat-mates, driving my siblings to and from soccer practice, or being a Teacher's Aide for younger chorus classes -- to shape myself into the best citizen I can be.” ​

The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children. Membership in the National Society is open to any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. ​

Lauk is Riverwood's Wendy's High School Heisman Winner
Congratulations to Senior Kaitlyn Lauk for being named the school's 2017 Wendy’s High School Heisman Winner for her role as an outstanding student athlete. Lauk is a four-year member of the Varsity Girls Soccer team, for which she has received numerous awards. She has the honor of breaking the Lady Raiders' record for Most Goals in a Season and Most Goals in a Game. Off the pitch, Lauk is a member of the Community Service Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Future Business Leaders of America. She intends to study Nursing in college.

The Wendy’s High School Heisman Candidate program recognizes seniors who are proven leaders and role models within their school and community. They also must maintain a GPA of 3.0 (B average) or better. ​Learn more at WendysHighSchoolHeisman.com.​

Raider Debate Attends Samford University Competition

In addition to team captains Saya Abney and Julia Dias, six JV debaters moved up to Varsity to participate in the 2018 Samford University Bishop Guild Debates. The competition, held at Samford Friday, January 12 through Sunday, January 14, 2018, drew high school teams from a four-state area. Congratulations to Saya Abney and Julia Dias for their Quarterfinalist finish and to Abney for winning the 7th Speaker award out of 80 debaters. The team is greatly encouraged by the experience Neha Devineni, Noel Crenshaw, Cecilia Palmar, Blake Jones, Ricardo Ruiz, and Luke Powell gained during the three-day event.

Finch Named to Reporter Newspaper's "20 Under 20"
Congratulations to Senior Morgan Finch (Class of 2018) for being named one of twenty outstanding high school students in the Metro Atlanta area. The Reporter Newspaper's 9th annual "20 Under 20" feature ​showcased students aged 19 and younger who are committed to community service. Nominations came from teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, siblings, fellow students, and community leaders. 
Read or download the January 5, 2018 edition of The Sandy Springs Reporter​

Raiders Film Four TedX Youth Talks

Seven seniors (class of 2018) organized and led a TEDx Youth event at the end of fall semester 2017. The IB Diploma Candidate students created and organized the TEDx Youth event, and filmed it in the auditorium. More than 100 students, friends, and families attended the production. The event fulfilled the Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) Project component of the IB Diploma Programme.

Whit Blass and Pouya Pak served Co-Coordinators of the event. Destynee Jones and Breanna Munson were responsible for set design. Arthur Miltner worked on the event website and was in charge of social media. Working with Miltner on the website was Isaiah Ortiz, who also served as the event photographer. Hal Olson was the videographer. The event took ten months to plan and required a great deal of coordination within the group as well as with the faculty. Ultimately, the group received an official Tedx license.

The four featured speakers (with links to their segments) were:

Mr. Joe Alterman - Jazz Musician and Riverwood alum (Class of 2007)
The Intersection of Music and Life   

Mrs. Rose Scott - Journalist and Radio Broadcast Host
The Reporter and their Audience

Dr. Gordon Ramsay - Professor and Researcher of Children's Neuroscience
Detecting Autism with Vocal Biomarkers​

Mr. Josh Yudin - Founder, The Academy of Marketing

Co-coordinator Blass said, “I had always loved TED talks, and I was aware that anyone could apply to host a TEDx event. Thus, given the open-ended nature of the CAS project, it seemed natural that I should pursue hosting a TEDx talk. Of all the challenges we faced in organizing the TEDx talk, the issue of finding speakers was by far the most pressing.” There are plans to host another TEDx Youth Event at school in the Fall of 2018.

Diane Kopkas is the IB Coordinator and the Co-Titleholder of TEDxYouth@RICS. Link to the Raider TEDx Youth website: https://tedxyouthrics.wixsite.com/tedxyouthrics

The TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations, and individuals spark conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences. TEDx events for youth bring together educators, youth organizations, and young people for live presentations, activities, and storytelling that encourage learning about and experiencing the world in new and different ways. The TEDx format is a perfect medium for engaging and inspiring youth, and to highlight young voices from diverse communities.​

​December 2017 Headlines

Arney Selected to Georgia State School Superintendent's ​Council
Congratulations to Junior Nate Arney for being chosen for Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ 2017-18 Student Advisory Council. Arney is one of 142 students selected from over 2,500 applicants from public schools across the state. One male and one female were chosen to represent each school district in Georgia; Arney represents Fulton County Schools.

Applicants were asked to explain their ideas for impacting the overall quality of public education in Georgia and to indicate their commitment to community service. Students on the council serve as liaisons between the Georgia Department of Education and the students of the state. Over the course of four meetings at the Superintendent’s office, the students can expect to discuss a variety of topics that, in the past, have included student leadership, Georgia graduation rules, dropout rates, school climate, nutrition, and career, technical, and agricultural education.

Arney has enjoyed his participation thus far, noting: “The diversity of students on the council has been extremely interesting to me. Talking with all students about how their schools function and comparing their school experiences to mine has been very interesting. I am fascinated by the variety of high school offerings a Georgia high school student experiences.” Arney, an IB Diploma Candidate, is an active member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish and Science National Honor Societies, and Beta Club. He also serves on Mr. Gardner's Principal’s Student Advisory Council. Arney is a peer tutor and member of the Varsity Lacrosse team.​

Culinary Arts Fall Field Trips
Chef Elissa Oliver led two unique field trips with her students this semester. The first trip was to Inland Seafood, the largest distributors of seafood in the southeast and an Atlanta institution for more than 35 years. Students learned not only about seafood cooking methods, but also about sustainability and seafood production. Once back at the school, the students cooked fresh lobster and several varieties of fish.

​The second outing was the annual visit to the Whole Kids Foundation Educational Farm in North Fulton. The Whole Kids Foundation Educational Farm's mission is to provide experiential learning about food in an outdoor learning environment. The farm and its programs support the local community, including schools and neighborhood residents. Students learned about Farm to Table, healthy eating, food sourcing, and also sustainability. They enjoyed harvesting, washing, and eating mixed greens and carrots straight from the field -- and were delighted to taste the flavors of just-picked vegetables. In the experimental kitchen, the aspiring chefs created a meal from the day’s bounty. ​

2017-18 Winterguard Announced
Following four days of workshops and auditions, judges named the 2017-18 Winterguard members. Congratulations to the following students:
​​​Isaiah Ortiz, Rifle Captain​
Julia Jones, Flag Captain
Shira Alperin, Co-Captain
Flag Line:
Aisha Abundez
Jada Bates
Michelle Brannon
Sasha Cottrell
Mahri Fair
Julia Jones
Carmen Hernandez
Kevin Hernandez
Kevin Muniz
Niejah Reels
Rifle Line:
Shira Alperin
Shelby Arrigo
Summer Coleman
Jesus Flores
Mia Hill
Julie Mittelstedt
Ella Morgen
Isaiah Ortiz
Sophia Vandat
Lise Xu


November 2017 Headlines​

Raider FBLA A​ttends Fall 2017 Leadership Conference in Athens
The Raider Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter traveled to the 2017 FBLA Fall Leadership Conference in Athens. The two day conference, held November 15-16, brought more than 3,000 students and advisers together from across the state. Members and faculty sponsors attended sessions on Leadership, Professionalism, College Readiness, and Public Speaking. Students were also given the opportunity to take a campus tour and visit the UGA Bookstore​. Paula Chesser, Michelle Finley, and Veronica Randolph are the FBLA faculty sponsors.​

Fulton County Honor Band News
Congratulations to Haley Gruensfelder (Clarinet), Skyler Gupta (Percussion), Jonathan Radney (Trombone), Drew Kaplan (Trombone), and Aiden Jones (Percussion) for being chosen to play in the 2017 Fulton County Honor Band. The students (pictured with Raider Band Director Carlos Rodriguez)​ joined musicians from across the county for the two-day event at Centennial High School. Under the leadership of guest conductor Dr. Robert M. Carnochan of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, the students attended workshops and rehearsals to prepare for the joint concert Tuesday evening, November 14. 

Raider Singers in New York City
After months of planning and hours of rehearsals, 39 choral students traveled to New York City to take in the city and take their music to one of the musical capitals of the world. The trip, taking place from November 10th to 13th, included a combination of three groups:  the Riverwood Ensemble, the Advanced Men’s Chorus, and the Advanced Women’s Chorus. In addition to the performances and sightseeing, the students participated in a Broadway Drama Workshop and attended “Come From Away” and “The Play that Goes Wrong” on Broadway. The three day trip concluded with an evening with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.

Under the direction of Choral Director Michael Dauterman, the groups sang at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and in Central Park. St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the United States, was the setting for a stunning thirty minute performance in the sanctuary. In Central Park, the students sang two Beatles songs at Strawberry Fields, the famed John Lennon memorial site. View a video of “Blackbird” and “Imagine” from Strawberry Fields

“The trip was a  wonderful opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in a vibrant city and culture and bring their talent to the stage,” said Dauterman. Accompanying Dauterman were Assistant Principal Leon Fowler and several parent chaperones.  

The students held four fundraising events to finance the trip. In addition to Cheesecake Sales, Spirit Wear Sales, and a Chipotle Fundraising Night, they brought a dilapidated piano onto campus for a “piano smash.” Held during the fall Homecoming Game festivities, donors could choose between a hammer ($1), a baseball bat ($3), or a sledgehammer ($5) and take a swing at the piano. After a few hours, and after raising over $300, the piano was in pieces.​

National ​Digital Citizenship Certification Renewed
For the second year in a row, Common Sense, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children and families thrive in a world of digital media and technology, recognized the Raiders as a Common Sense School.

The school demonstrated its continued commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing students to use the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect, and learn. At the same time, students learned about the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyber bullying. The Common Sense recognition acknowledges the school’s commitment to creating a culture of digital learning and citizenship. Certification required the involvement of the entire school – teachers, students, and administrators.

"We applaud the faculty and staff of Riverwood for embracing digital citizenship as an important part of their students' education," said Liz Kline, VP, Education Programs, Common Sense Education. "Riverwood deserves high praise for giving its students the foundational skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and participate ethically in society at large."

"We're honored to be recognized as a Common Sense School," said principal Charles Gardner. "By preparing our students to use technology safely and responsibly, we are providing them unlimited opportunities to maximize and personalize their learning."​

Raider Marching Band, Percussion, & Color Guard Win Awards

Congratulations to the Marching Band for their award-winning performances at the 13th Annual White Columns Invitational competition. Held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at Milton High School, the Raider Marching Band won First Place in their classification. The Band and Percussion earned "Excellent" ratings, while the Color Guard and Drum Majors earned "Superior" ratings. Best in Class awards in Class A went to the Raiders for Color Guard, Percussion, Visual Performance, Musical Performance, and Overall General Effect.

Raiders Send Four Teams to Sequoyah Debate Competition
The Raider Debaters sent four teams to the 2017 Sequoyah Autumn​ Argument Tournament on Saturday, November 4. Senior team co-captains Saya Abney and Julia Dias served as coaches and judges to the Novice and Varsity competitors. 

​Congratulations to Noel Crenshaw for placing as 8th Varsity Speaker. In the Novice division, Ysabela Lopez finished as 5th Speaker and Jonah Hirsch placed as 8th Speaker.

Dia de los Muertos Display
The Raider HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education) club organized the 2017 offrenda in the atrium lobby (old building) to provide​ a glim​pse of Mexican culture for the week of Halloween. Signs explained the symbols and meaning of the altar.​ The Day of the Dead -- which coincides with All Saints Day and All Souls' Day -- is a Mexican remembrance of loved ones and a celebration of their lives. In 2010, the Raider Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) hosted the first offrenda at school with club members on hand to explain​ its significance. After six successful years, students, parents, faculty, and staff now anticipate the annual event and participate by bringing symbolic mementoes and photographs to fill the table in the atrium. ​

October 2017 Headlines

10 Selected for District 5 Honor Choir

Congratulations to Sam Cooney, Rebecca Eisenstein, Jesse Gibbons, James Jackson, Jennifer Millan-Salinas​, Lillian Oelkers, Rain Robertson, Joe Virgin, Isaiah Warren, and Atara Zibitt​ for being selected to the 2017 District 5 Honor Choir. The two-day event took place Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2017​ and concluded with a beautiful concert at Grace United Methodist Church in Midtown.

Raiders Have Two National Merit Semifinalists
Congratulations to Seniors Saya Abney and Lily Schneider for being selected as semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship program.

Based on their outstanding scores on the PSAT taken during their Junior year, Abney and Schneider join an elite group of approximately 16,000 high school seniors from across the country. As semifinalists, the students now must fulfill several requirements in order to advance to the finalist round. They must have a record of high academic performance, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm their earlier qualifying test performance. Additionally, the semifinalists will complete a detailed scholarship application, which includes a self-descriptive essay and information about participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Spring 2017 Honor Roll and Principal’s List Announced

Honor Roll students achieved a cumulative average between 90-94.9 and were recognized during the school day on Wednesday, October 25. Principal’s List students earned a cumulative grade point average of 95 or higher; they were recognized during the school day on Friday, October 27. Congratulations to these outstanding scholars for a successful semester and for their demonstrated commitment to academic excellence.  

2017 Spring Honor Roll ​a​nd ​Princip​al's List, revised​

Raider Debate Brings Home Trophies from Wake Forest Fall Classic

Wake Forest University hosted high school debate teams from across the country for their three day Fall Classic Tournament. The Raiders sent both Varsity and JV teams to North Carolina from Saturday, October 21 through Monday, October 23, 2017. 

Congratulations to Raider Debate Co-Captains Saya Abney and Julia Dias for an outstanding weekend and a semifinalist (top four teams) finish. Out of 114 competitors, Dias placed as 3rd Speaker and Abney as 5th Speaker. Additionally, their performance qualified them for the April 2018 Tournament of Champions, the most selective national debate championship.

JV debaters Neha Devineni and Blake Jones continued their fine fall season winning second place in their division.

Culinary Arts Student Cater Principal's Circle Luncheon
Under the direction of Chef Oliver, Culinary Arts students catered and served a three course meal for the Tuesday, October 17, 2017 Principal's Circle Luncheon. The Principal's Circle Luncheon was for Gold ($500-$​999) and Platinum ($1,000+) PTSA donors. 

The 50 attendees enjoyed an engaging talk with Mr. Gardner and dined on a Mixed Green Salad (pictured right) with CalyRoad Creamery Feta Cheese, Spiced Pecans, Apples, and Balsamic Fig Preserve Dressing. The entree selections were Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast or Portobello Mushroom accompanied by Sautéed Green Beans and a Loaded Mash Potato Waffle with Apple Drizzle and Pomegranate seeds. Dessert was an Apple and Cranberry Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Crème Anglaise.

Teachers Complete Ironman Triathlon​
Congratulations to Laura Bradley (pictured left) and Lauren Fogarty (pictured right) for completing the 2017 Louisville, Kentucky Ironman. 

Bradley became an Ironman on Sunday, October 15 by completing a 2.4 mile swim down the Ohio River, a 112 mile bike ride through the country roads of LaGrange, and a 26.2 mile run in the heart of downtown. “The journey to becoming an Ironman is what I like to call a pilgrimage,” notes Bradley. “It is many grueling hours before the world is awake spent swimming at the pool, riding on the bike, or hitting the pavement. As I continued through my journey and posted my progress along the way on social media, I soon found out that I had so much support. After only a matter of time it was no longer about me… I was representing my family in a major competition and I was teaching young minds that hard work pays off.” This was Bradley's first Ironman; it was Fogarty's fourth.

Both faculty members shared their experiences with their students as a means to teach life lessons. Fogarty told her class: “You are capable of much more than you realize; no reward of great magnitude comes easily. You need to learn to set small goals along the way to reaching a greater goal, otherwise it is easy to become frustrated and give up.  And in the end, the sacrifice is always worth it!” Bradley kept her students abreast of her training schedule, races along the way, and the difficulties she overcame. She showed them videos of IRONMAN events as well as videos and photos from her personal race experiences. She has been asked to speak to the school's Achieving Via Individual Determination (AVID) students on how determination, dedication, and overcoming obstacles can help them achieve their dreams.

When not swimming, running, and biking to the extreme, Bradley and Fogarty are members of the Raider English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) faculty. Additionally, Fogarty is the faculty sponsor of the Raider Vegetarian Club; Bradley is the Lady Raiders Golf Coach. Both have plans to compete in future triathlons and Fogarty is training for the 2018 Boston Marathon.​


Homecoming Piano Smash Fundraiser
Performing Arts students transformed an abandoned piano (warehoused and deemed "surplus") into a huge stress-buster just in time for Homecoming. Situated on the practice field in front of the school on Friday afternoon, October 13​, the piano stubbornly resisted destruction. Donors could choose between a hammer ($1), a baseball bat ($3), or a sledgehammer ($5) and take a swing. After a few hours, and after raising over $300 for the upcoming Chorus and IB Theatre trip to New York City, the piano was in pieces. 

2017-18 Raider Ambassadors Announced
Student Ambassadors assist with prospective student visits and other special campus events throughout the year.

Congratulations to this year's Ambassadors: Ellie Addington, Celine Al-Noubani, Shelby Arrigo, Dori Balser, Lizzie Begle, Ryan Belfi, Isis Bell, Joshua Bennafield, Carys Bennett, Whit Blass, Cassidy Campa, Chloe Campa, Harris Cohen, Kelsie Constable, Anna Davis, Rahkel Dixon, Britney Dugarte, Native Ervin, Graci Goldstein, Camille Grout, Elizabeth Hernandez, Lucy Howard, Destynee Jones, Olivia Koenig, Daniel Lewis, Sharon Lim, Fernanda Lopes, Chandler McCleskey, Imani Mack, Jake Markland, Jacky Martinez, Arthur Miltner, Carmen Morales, Brenna Munson, Maeve Munson, Madison Nagley, Isaiah Ortiz, Eldina Paco, Pouya Pak, Ella Ponsell, Caroline Price, Julia Sibert, CeCe Street, Ivan Tlaseca, Leslie Tornez, and Austin Warren (Not pictured: Shelby Arrigo & Britney Dugarte)

FBLA Attends Fall Motivational Rally at Georgia National Fair
The Raider Chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) sent 40 students to the 2017 Georgia National Fair on Thursday, October 12. The students, with faculty chaperones Desmond Atwell, Paula Chesser, Michelle Finley, and Veronica Randolph, traveled to Perry for a full day of programs (and fun at the fair). The ​Georgia FBLA conducted workshops, competitive event entries, contests, and open testing events for high school students from across the state. ​

Model UN Team Wins Awards at Georgia Tech Conference
The Raider Model UN team competed in the 2017 Georgia Tech Model United Nations Conference in October. The following students modeled the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Portugal:  Chris Bauguss, Haley Gruensfelder, Ethan Hunt, Samantha Johnson, Trevor Kosloski, Alex Lipsky, JP Lutz, Lauren McDonald, Hayes Miller, Shreya Rekapalli, Shahir Sarasiya, Atara Zibitt, and Jacob Vayle.​

Congratulations to Junior Samantha Johnson (class of 2019) for winning the Best Delegate award, the highest honor in the committee, for her work representing the Lusa News Agency of Portugal.

Congratulations also to Senior Jacob Vayle (class of 2018), for being named an Honorable Delegate for his model of Portugal within the NATO Committee. This was a crisis committee which dealt with unannounced international incidents developed by Georgia Tech students. The committee considered Russian interference in the Catalonian independence movement and struggled with ​a division within NATO as Latvia and Estonia inched toward war over a border dispute.  

The two-day conference brought dozens of metro schools to the Georgia Tech campus for the competition. The students, representing 72 countries, explored issues such as NATO’s relations with Russia, bioterrorism, and gender equity in government. The conference included a Press Corps which tasked students to cover the conference as if they represented a particular nation’s news agency. The students wrote articles, produced videos, and interviewed delegates to provide up to date coverage.  

Faculty Advisor Joshua Williams said, “I am interested in international affairs and global issues. So it’s a club I’m interested in rather than just work. Having a passionate teacher makes it interesting for the students as well.”  Thanks to a PTSA grant, Williams was able to travel with the students to the conference. Williams, a member of the Raider faculty for nine years, teaches AP US History, Economics, and International Affairs.  ​

Raiders Accept Purple Hair Challenge
The Raider community contributed more than $1,000 to Team Summer and the 2017 Purple Hair Challenge. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, the Purple Hair Challenge set a goal to raise $20,000 for Atlanta-based Team Summer. Everyone who accepted the challenge and met their individual fundraising goal agreed to dye their hair purple at the end of September. The tremendous community response led to a staggering $42,000 raised (and increased sales of purple hair dye).

Summer Dale, a former Riverwood student diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, started Team Summer to provide gifts to other children also coping with cancer. She made an effort to get to know the children and purchased thoughtful gifts to make their lives easier. Although Summer lost her battle with cancer in 2012, her legacy, her love of the color purple, and the Team Summer foundation live on. Many children who received gifts from Team Summer are now part of the effort to help uplift children fighting cancer. This idea of the Purple Hair Challenge came from some of Summer's high school friends. Raider students coordinated two bake sales in September and sold Raider spirit flags designed by National Art Honor Society students at home football games.

These efforts, along with private donations, garnered over $1,000 during the four-week challenge. Visual Arts and IB Film Studies Teacher Dana Munson accompanied the students to Salon Skanda, a local salon, for the hair transformations. Thanks to the Sandy Springs salon for providing the free hair coloring. ​


​September 2017 Headlines

Raiders Attend Chattahoochee Cougar Classic Debate Tournament
The Raider Debate Team sent four teams to the Chattahoochee Cougar Classic​ the weekend of September 29-30, 2017. The Varsity and JV teams did extremely well. The
 Varsity team of Saya Abney and Julia Dias finished as the second place team after going 6-0 in the prelims. Dias placed as 1st Speaker, and Abney placed as 6th Speaker. 

The JV debaters Neha Devineni and Blake Jones finished as the fourth place team. Devineni placed as 8th JV Speaker. Cecilia Palmar and Ricardo Ruiz were Quarterfinalists in the JV division. 

Successful Joint ​College Fair
The Riverwood and North Springs Counseling Centers hosted their second annual joint College Night on September 28, 2017 at Ridgeview Charter School. Over 70 public and private universities, colleges, and technical schools participated in the fair. Approximately 1,000 parents and students from Riverwood and North Springs, as well as Ridgeview and Sandy Springs middle schools, came to the college fair. In addition to the gym full of college representatives, parents and students could choose to attend an array of workshops. The sessions addressed topics such as College Essay Writing, Standardized Testing, Financial Aid and Scholarships, Post-Secondary Educational Resources for Latino students, and College Planning Tips for the 8th and 9th Grade Student. Some attended a panel discussion on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

This joint event was well attended and enabled students to speak with leading national universities and colleges, representatives from over 25 Georgia schools, branches of military institutions, as well as technical schools. Some of the workshops were designed for middle school students and their families, as the counselors recognize that students need to begin the process of preparing for life after high school graduation much earlier than they have in the past. According to Head Counselor Shamona Harrell, “It is our job as a counseling staff to ensure that students are exposed, educated, and able to engage in the college planning process. We are excited that we can offer College Night as a valuable tool to facilitate that process.” ​

Ensemble Chorus & Jazz Band Perform ​at Sandy Springs Festival
The Ensemble Chorus shared the stage with the Raider Jazz Band at the ​2017 Heritage Sandy Springs Festival. 

The Raider musicians were on the main stage Saturday, September 23 and wowed the crowd with their talent and poise. Congratulations to all of the students who performed. 

Balser Wins Woodrow Wilson Community Service Award
Congratulations to Senior Dori Balser (Class of 2018) for winning the Princeton Club of Georgia Woodrow Wilson Community Service Award. Balser will be honored at the Georgia State Capitol in October.

Balser, an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme candidate, is the Student Body Vice President. She is one of onl​y 16 high school students selected to serve on the Youth Board of the United Way of Greater Atlanta. As a Youth Board member, Balser helps plan service projects for Atlanta teens. One such project is the annual "shoebox" project, which collects and distributes shoeboxes filled with basic necessities to homeless women and children in Greater Atlanta.

Balser was the Raiders' 2017 "HOBY Ambassador," representing Riverwood at the Hugh O'Brian Summer Youth Leadership Conference. HOBY ambassadors, selected for their potential to lead others, discover and sharpen leadership skills at the conference, and come face-to-face with current leaders in such fields as government, media, business, and education.

Balser said "Service has always been an important part of my life. I believe that it is our responsibility as humans to be there for other humans in times of need. As teens, we need to value the importance of service and helping other people, because we are the future. One day, our parents and teachers will not be there to help us, so we need to learn how to be there for each other."

The Princeton Club of Georgia established the Woodrow Wilson Community Service Award in 1985. The award honors Atlanta-area high school juniors who, through community involvement and personal initiative, best exemplify the ideals of service and volunteerism espoused by Woodrow Wilson, former President of the United States and of Princeton University. The ideal candidate volunteers out of a passion to improve the community, not to fulfill school requirements or to build a resume, and for whom service is a part of everyday life.

"It is such an honor to receive this award." Balser stated. "I hope this inspires people my age to get involved in service. Not only does it help others tremendously, but I have grown so much as a leader and as a person through my service to others."​

Junior Wins Global Entrepreneurs Competition; Interviewed on NPR
Junior Shreya Rekapalli won first place as part of a five-person team in this summer’s TiE Young Entrepreneurs Global Competition at the University of California, Irvine. Rekapalli and her teammates, representing schools from across the Atlanta metro area, first won a regional competition, qualifying them for the June 2017 global event. Rekaplli and her teammates, Anuj Das (Alpharetta High School), Ananya Ganesh (The Westminster Schools), Alex Gonzalez (Cristo Rey Atlanta), and Anushka Korantana (Northview High School), developed Chill Wipes, an all-natural essential oil-based cooling wipe with sun protection. The wipe, packaged in a compact, economical, and customizable pack, won first place in the Global Competition, as well as the Best Elevator Pitch award. They were the first team ever to win both a special award and the best team award. Notes Rekapalli, “I learned so much from the TYE Program… especially the fact that the entire process of building a product is not easy whatsoever. I loved that we got a sense of the real business world, and what it is really like to be an entrepreneur.” The winning team recently made an appearance on 90.1 WABE fm radio (lis​ten to the 15 minute interview), and were featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Rekapalli, an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme candidate, says her favorite academic subjects are math and history. She is the president of Raider Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter and also takes part in the Model United Nations, Student Government, Beta Club, and the Science National Honor Society. Furthermore, she is a member of Lady Raiders Girls Cross Country and Soccer teams. ​

Community Service Club Collects Hundreds of Solar Eclipse Glasses
The Raider Community Service Club collected more than 500 solar eclipse glasses in September. The glasses will go to Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), a worldwide astronomy community,​ which will distribute them in South America and Asia when eclipses cross those continents in 2019. AWB will provide the donated glasses free of charge to schools and organizations.


University of Kentucky Debate Season Opener
Congratulations to the Raider Debate Varsity team of Saya Abney and Julia Dias for their Octafinalist (top 16 teams) finish at the University of Kentucky Season Opener. Abney and Dias traveled to Lexington, Kentucky for the three day tournament (September 9-11, 2018) featuring 128 debaters from 17 states. In the preliminary competition, they earned an impressive 6-0 record. By the end of the weekend, Abney emerged with the 13th Speaker trophy; Dias was 17th Speaker. 

​Laura Guill and Marjorie Bernard-Evans are the debate team sponsors.

​August 2017 Headlines

Freshman Wins Seat & Award in Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra

Congratulations to Freshman Madeline Chen (Class of 2021) for winning a seat in the 2017-18 Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) as harpist. This is her second year playing in the ASYO and she is one of the youngest members of the orchestra. Congratulations also to Chen for winning Honorable Mention in the 2017 ASYO Concerto Competition. 2017-18 marks the 44th Season of the ASYO, and is the first season with new Music Director, Stephen Mulligan. The first performance of the season is the Overture Concert Sunday, November 5, 2017 and the second is the Crescendo Concert Sunday, March 18, 2018.  ​Learn more about the ASYO

Youth Leadership Sandy Springs Inducts Nine Raiders
In August, Youth Leadership Sandy Springs (YLSS) inducted nine Raiderss to the 2017-18 class. Congratulations to Lizzie Frederick, Jessica Keen, Jaren Linowes, Hayes Miller, Ricardo Ruiz, Julia Sibert, Alisa Steele, Spencer Vise, and Charles Woodman for being selected. They join 26 other Sandy Springs area high school students in the year-long program designed to enhance and enrich their understanding of the city. Throughout the year, they will examine the environment, city government, non-profits, and law enforcement, as well as business and public safety. 

Launched by Leadership Sandy Springs in 2011, YLSS is based on Leadership Sandy Springs’ successful 30-year-old program developing community leaders. The Raiders have​ been well-represented in each of the seven YLSS classes.

Raider Band & Orchestra Program Receives $5,000 Grant

With a generous grant from Sandy Springs Society, the Instrumental Music Program purchased new instrumental music folders and music stands. The $5,000 grant enables the ever-growing music program to provide critical equipment. Band Director Carlos Rodriguez instructs over 170 students in the Intermediate, Mastery, and Jazz bands. Additionally, the Raider Marching Band now numbers close to 60 musicians. New to the school, Orchestra Director Jessica Luhrs takes over three curricular string orchestras with approximately 80 students.

Due to increasing participation, the band and orchestra are no longer able to share a rehearsal room. Having new music stands extends the rehearsal space for both groups. The new music folders will raise the professionalism of each production and will allow each student to store their music properly.

Luhrs adds, “I’m excited to give the students these new materials now as we wait for our brand new performing arts wing to be built onto the school. It’s an exciting time for our orchestras, and I look forward to seeing this grow into a program of musical prestige and honor. It’s my goal as a director to create a program that serves the school and community by providing high quality musical performances, so that when my students look back at their time in spent in orchestra, they’re proud to have been a part of it.” The school greatly appreciates the Sandy Springs Society’s continued support of the Instrumental Music Program.​

​July 2017 Headlines

Raiders Return to Spain:  Summer 2017
The Raiders sent thirteen students and two teachers to Spain this summer for a total language and cultural immersion experience. The group spent two weeks in Seville, Spain and surrounding areas as part of the second year of Riverwood’s Spanish language and culture study abroad program. The students lived with local families, attended classes, and participated in cultural activities each day. According to Spanish teacher Lorraine Lynch who led the trip for the second consecutive year, “It was truly an authentic cultural experience, as we lived like locals. Total immersion is the best way to learn a language and to expand your worldview, which is essential to becoming a true global citizen.” The program was offered in conjunction with Centro MundoLengua, a private language school and educational tour operator. Lynch and Donna Vargas, World Language Department Chair, accompanied the rising 10th-12th grade students.

Over the course of twelve days, the students attended structured language courses each morning and, after lunch, experienced Spanish culture through various group activities. Highlights included visits to Seville’s cultural treasures such as the Alcazar and the Plaza España. They also kayaked on the Guadalquivir river, attended an authentic flamenco show, learned to cook paella, and experienced the traditional Arab baths, which date to the 9th Century. Their visit coincided with Corpus Christi, a very important religious and cultural festival. During the festival, the students enjoyed traditional music, processions, and public displays. As an added treat, they also spent a weekend in Tavira, Portugal. All classes, lessons, and tours were conducted completely in Spanish. Friends and family of the students traveling followed their adventures on social media and via their student-led blog.

In support of its international studies and IB curriculum, the school organized several international trips in 2017: a service trip to Nicaragua over Spring Break 2017, and separate trips to Spain, France, and Japan during summer 2017. The school plans to add additional international trips in the future. The 2017 trips received support from the Riverwood Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to support initiatives that enhance the learning experience for students.​

Freshmen Compete at National FBLA Conference in Anaheim, California
Two Raider Freshmen competed in the summer 2017 Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference. Congratulations to rising Sophomores (Class of 2020) Luca Maddaleni (pictured left) and Chandler McCleskey (pictured right) for qualifying at the state level to advance to the June 29-July 2 national conference. At the state level, Maddaleni won first place in the Introduction to Information Technology division; McCleskey won fourth place in Public Speaking. The four-day national conference in Anaheim, California, considered the pinnacle of FBLA events, brought together thousands of high school students from across the country (and world) to compete in leadership events, share their successes, and learn new ideas through workshops and exhibits. Faculty advisor Paula Chesser accompanied the Raiders to Anaheim. The Raider FBLA chapter looks forward to another strong year under faculty advisors Paula Chesser and Michelle Finley and is already setting their sights on next summer’s 2018 national conference in Baltimore, Maryland.​


June 2017 Headlines

C’est la Vie! Raiders Live and Study in France​
In June 2017, two ​French teachers chaperoned nine students for two and a half weeks in Paris and Aix-en-Provence as part of the school's inaugural French language and study abroad program. The students lived with local families, attended classes, and participated in activities and/or excursions each day. According to French teacher Holly Fitchette, who travelled with the students, “We are so excited that the school has begun a French immersion program. Our students have the opportunity to participate in French home life and experience the culture firsthand by living like a local with locals.” French teacher Brett Edeker also travelled with the group.

The rising 10th through 12th grade students began their trip in Paris, where they spent three days touring the city and visiting landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. Other highlights were stops at world-famous museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay and monuments such as the one to the Victims of the Deportation during World War II. After sampling the sights, sounds and, especially, the tastes of Paris, the students took the high-speed train (TGV) to Aix-en-Provence where they lived with local families and attended a local school. Students attended classes in the morning and participated in cultural activities each afternoon. They visited the nearby city of Nimes where they toured ancient Roman ruins and enjoyed a holiday festival full of music, parades, and even a traditional bullfight. The itinerary included visits to the seaside towns of Marseille and Casis. While on the coast, they toured local art museums and frequented the world-famous outdoor markets in Aix-en-Provence. 10th grade student Lexie Bailey offered: “The best part of the program was the learning experience as a whole. I learned more about the language than I can ever learn in a classroom.”​

Raiders Explore Japan for Two Weeks
Japanese language teacher Dr. Azusa Callaway accompanied five students to Japan in June 2017 for a two-week language and culture immersion experience. Japanese language students Jordan Allen, Celine Al-Noubani, Robert Breeser, Holly Hunsaker, Jose Portillo, and Holly Hunsaker flew to Tokyo to start their summer adventure. In Tokyo, they visit​ed museums and palaces, tasted Japanese cuisine, and shopped. One of the most impressive sights was from the top of the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan. While in Tokyo, the students stayed at the National Olympic Youth Center.

The students then traveled to nearby Shizuoka Prefecture to begin their home stay program, attending Inatori High School and experiencing Japanese day-to-day and family life. In addition to attending classes, the students learned about Japanese flower arranging, calligraphy, and martial arts, and volunteered at a preschool. They aided their host families with cooking and other daily routines, and accompanied host “siblings” to classes and activities. After the week-long home stays, they boarded the Shinkansen (“bullet train”) to Kyoto, where they visited temples, shrines, museums, and other sites.

Callaway noted, “In the classroom, I try to provide authentic contexts for my students to practice Japanese skills and increase knowledge of Japanese culture. However, it is difficult for them to connect what they learn in class with Japan since they don't have many occasions to interact with Japanese people in Atlanta. Travelling to Japan is an invaluable opportunity for my students to interact with real people, see real things, and experience daily life. They have acquired a cultural awareness and understanding they cannot get here at home.”

Jordan Allen appreciated the cultural differences he experienced in Japan. “When I got to Japan, I noticed the airport was quieter than those in America. The trip opened my eyes to an entirely new perspective about how people treat each other. I loved the culture so much; I didn’t want to leave.”

The students travelled to Japan with Callaway as part of the Laurasian Institute’s New Perspectives: Japan program. In the past year, Riverwood sponsored student travel to Nicaragua, Spain, France, and Japan. In an effort to continue supporting the school's international studies and IB curriculum, the school is in the process of planning additional international trips for the coming year.​

Miranda Named to All-South Team
Congratulations to Senior Victor Miranda (Class of 2017) for being named to the National Soccer Coaches Association o​f America (NSCAA) 2017 All-South Boys High School Soccer team. Miranda is one of only six Georgia High School Boys Soccer players selected to this year's All-South team. He was a vital member of the Raiders Varsity Boys Soccer team for three years, contributing to a successful streak of post-season tournament appearances. This year, he scored 31 goals and provided five assists in the Raiders' run to the Elite Eight in the State Class AAAAA Tournament. Miranda will attend Brewton-Parker College in southeast Georgia in the fall and continue his soccer career with the Barons.    learn more

Teachers Attend Summer Training in Colorado
Thanks to the Riverwood Foundation for sponsoring eight teachers to attend the Summer 2017 Teach for Excellence (T4E) training in Colorado. Paul Ankerich, Jodi Davis, Laura Guill, Lucia James, Lorena Lupas, Monica Olier Toloza, Jeanne Urban, and Greg Sanchez participated in the Performance Excellence for All Kids (PEAK) summer institute in June and will bring back an arsenal of T4​E tools to improve their classrooms next year.

McQuary Named Georgia Girls Cross Country Positive Athlete of the Year
Congratulations to Senior Madison McQuary (Class of 2017) for winning the State Positive Athlete Award in Girls Cross Country. McQuary, a North Fulton Region Award winner, accepted the State honor from former prof​essional and University of Georgia football player Hines Ward at the June 2017 banquet. 

The 2016-17 school year marks the third year of Riverwood's participation in the Positive Athlete Georgia program. Two Raider student athletes won the 2017 North Atlanta Region Positive Athlete of the Year award in their sports:  Senior Mia Hodges (Girls Tennis), and Senior Madison McQuary (Girls Cross Country).    
learn more​    (photo courtesy of PositiveAthlete Georgia & Rob Saye)​​

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