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December 2017 Headlines

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. 

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

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 Triath​lon
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. When Fogarty crossed the finish line, she was named a 4X Ironman. When not swimming, running, and biking to the extreme, Bradley and Fogarty are members of the Raider ESOL faculty. Additionally, ​Fogarty is the faculty sponsor of the Raider Vegetarian Club; Bradley is the Lady Raiders Golf Coach.


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 Buisiness 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.

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 chaparoned 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)​

May 2017 Headlines

Congratulations, Graduates! 
The Class of 2017 graduated on Thursday, May 25 at the Cobb Energy Centre. Each year, the school bestows three special awards to outstanding seniors. Congratulations to: 

  • Atlanta Journal & Constitution Cup:  Troi Young (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: Elijah Jenkins (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:  David Taylor (pictured above​, right)
    The Principal's Cup goes to the senior who best exemplifies the spirit of Riverwood. Basic criteria include academic scholarship, athletic participation, and demonstrated leadership. Most importantly, the recipient of this award has a history of mutual respect for those of other races, cultures, and beliefs.

Horn Awarded Inaugural Scholarship to Attend UNCS
Class of 2017 valedictorian Katie Horn was awarded the inaugural Eve Marie Carson Carolina Way Scholarship for study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). She will attend UNC this fall where she will also join the UNC Scholars Program. 

​UNC established the Eve Marie Carson Carolina Way Scholarship in memory of Eve Marie Carson ’08, UNC student body president and Morehead-Cain Scholar. According to the guidelines, the scholarship is for the one student who embodies several of the characteristics that defined Eve’s life: academic excellence, observable optimism and enthusiasm, and a proclivity to connect and engage diverse people. During the interviewing process for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, the Morehead-Cain Foundation nominated Horn for the new Eve Marie Carson Carolina Way Scholarship and she is honored to receive this prestigious award.​

Fulton County Schools Senior Spotlight:  Rebecca Langfelder
Congratulations to Becca Langfelder (Class of 2017) for being selected by Fulton County Schools as the Raider Star Senior.


Raider Seniors Honored at Atlanta Zoo Event

Fulton County invited standout seniors Linsey Cohen (salutatorian, second from left), Jeremy Colton (STAR student, far right), Katie Horn (valedictorian, third from left), and Becca Langfelder (Fulton Schools Star student, far left) to a reception at Zoo​ Atlanta on Wednesday, May 10. The Fulton County Scholars event, only in its second year, included the Class of 2017 valedictorians, salutatorians, and STAR Students of both Fulton County and Atlanta public schools. The County hosted the students for dinner and added a ​special animal encounter to the evening. 

Culinary Arts Students Cater Sandy Springs Education Force VIP Breakfast
Nine students, under the leadership of Chef Elissa Oliver, arrived at school before dawn Tuesday, May 9th to prepare for the Sandy Springs Education Force (SSEF) annual VIP breakfast. During the morning event off campus at the Williams-Payne Home in Sandy Springs, the students met the Sandy Springs Mayor, the Fulton County School Superintendent, and other dignitaries. They fed more than 145 people and earned many compliments for their hard work and delicious meal.

Head Counselor Sally Page Named "Supervisor of the Year"

Congratulations to Head Counselor Sally Page for being named the 2016-17 Supervisor of the Year by the Fulton School Counselors Association (FSCA). The FSCA presents three awards each year:  Counselor of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, and Advocate of the Year. The FSCA honored Page at the FSCA Annual Awards banquet Tuesday evening, May 9 at the Colon​nade Restaurant.

2017 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Announced
Congratulations to Katie Horn, Valedictorian, and Linsey Cohen, Salutatorian. Graduation 2017 is at 3pm on Thursday, May 25, at the Cobb Energy Centre.

Valedictorian Katie Horn (pictured left) will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall. She received the inaugural Eve Marie Carson Carolina Way Scholarship​ and will join the UNC Scholars Program. Horn is an IB Diploma Candidate pursuing Higher Levels in chemistry, literature, and m​athematics. Horn is a member of the National Honor Society and President of the Science National Honor Society. She also belongs to the FBLA, the National Spanish Honor Society, t​he Beta Club, the Interact Club, and the Science Olympiad team. Horn ​tutored local elementary school students in science and served as a peer tutor in both AP World History and IB Economics. A four-year member of the Lady Raiders Cross Country team, Horn also played Girls Lacrosse as a freshman. In addition to her school activities, Horn has been very active in Girl Scouts and Venture Scouts; she earned her Gold Award in 2015.​

Salutatorian Linsey Cohen (pictured right) will attend the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in the fall. She intends to double major in Cognitive Studies and Child Development, with plans to attend law school and ultimately pursue a career in education policy.​ Cohen is an IB diploma candidate pursuing Higher Levels in chemistry, psychology, and literature. She has been actively involved in numerous clubs and organizations including Beta Club, Student Ambassadors, Student Government, National Honor Society (Secretary), and the Science National Honor Society (Co-President). Cohen has been a peer tutor in various subject areas.​ Cohen partnered with Lake Forest Elementary's STEM Club to provide meaningful educational opportunities in science for both high school volunteers and elementary students. In the larger community, she was selected to serve in Youth Leadership Sandy Springs, the Creating Connected Communities Leadership Training Program, and the Atlanta Jewish Teen Foundation philanthropy board. 

Peek Receives Princeton Prize in Race Relations
Congratulations to Senior Natalie Peek for receiving the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, an awards program for high school students doing exceptional volunteer work to advance the cause of race relations. Peek received $1,000 cash and an expense-paid trip to Princeton University for a race symposium for winning the prize. Also this spring, and related to the Princeton Prize, Peek earned her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Peek received the Princeton Prize in Race Relations based on her volunteer project, titled “March On,” which she did in the process of earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. “March On” arose out of her alarm over the lack of awareness of the past and present struggles with African-American civil rights, and current threats to voting rights. She researched the Implicit Association Test, a computer-based survey that shows, regardless of the race of the test-taker, most people have a positive association with white faces and a negative association with black faces. She learned that those subconscious biases will persist, except when people are exposed to more black history and learn about stereotypes in society.

Determined to help address the situation, Peek set out to continue to increase racial awareness at school, her church, and the community. For the school, she collected a set of 36 copies of the John Lewis graphic novel about civil rights titled March: Book One. Peek worked with social studies and language arts faculty to incorporate the graphic novel into an interdisciplinary lesson plan which included both 9th grade literature as well as social studies classes. The productive discussions at school inspired her to broaden her reach to the larger community.

Using her Girl Scout Gold Award project as a vehicle, Peek expanded the discussion to 1st and 2nd graders at her church, the Optimists Club, the Rotary Club, and the Horizons Day Camp. The feedback she received confirmed the positive impact of her work: students who had never known of the civil rights struggles were enlightened, and adults who did not speak about "race issues" became more open and engaging on the topic. During the scope of her year-long project, more than 180 students and 150 adults benefited from her activities. In addition, the inclusive lesson plans she helped write will become a continuing part of the school's curriculum, reaching an estimated 200-300 students each year.

Peek received her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest and most prestigious award that Girl Scouts can earn, on February 26, 2017.  She has been a member of Troop 25408 since she started as a Daisy and Brownie at High Point Elementary. Peek embodies the attributes of Gold Award recipients as she has made a positive mark on her community and a lasting impact on the lives of others.​


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