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Ga. Connections Academy graduates Class of 2014

Ga. Connections Academy graduates Class of 2014

(WXIA) -- Georgia Connections Academy recently held a graduation ceremony for its Class of 2014.

Many classmates met for the very first time during the event at the Gwinnett Center.

"We are very proud of our graduates," GCA lead principal Heather Robinson said in a release. Altogether, the Class of 2014 secured $1.33 million in college scholarship offers.

Emily McClure of Columbus is GCA's valedictorian. She will attend Georgia College and State University on the Zell Miller Scholarship in the fall.

Learn more about Georgia Connections Academy, the state's free virtual charter school for students in grades K-12, at georgiaconnectionsacademy.com.

RELATED | Georgia Cyber Academy graduates first class

Ga. Cyber Academy graduates first class

Ga. Cyber Academy graduates first class

(WXIA) -- The Class of 2014 is the very first class to graduate from Georgia Cyber Academy, the state's free online public school.

The school will hold a graduation ceremony at noon on Saturday, May 31 at the Gwinnett Center. More than 300 graduating seniors are scheduled to walk across the stage.

"We're so proud of each of our graduates, all of whom have taken the individualized learning that comes with GCA's online curriculum and worked with GCA's world-class teachers to adapt it to best serve and support their own academic successes," GCA head of school Matt Arkin said in a release.

Members of GCA's Class of 2014 were accepted to some of the country's top colleges and universities, including Cornell University, Georgia Tech, the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia.

Students encouraged to read this summer

Students encouraged to read this summer

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

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

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

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

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

Tri-Cities HS dominates Shuler Hensley Awards

Tri-Cities HS dominates Shuler Hensley Awards

(WXIA) -- The 2014 Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards, otherwise known as the Shuler Hensley Awards, were held Thursday night, with one Fulton County school scoring the majority of the honors.

Tri-Cities High School's production of Dreamgirls crushed the competition. It won a whopping 13 awards, including Best Musical, Best Director and all the acting prizes.

Milton High School's Legally Blonde won two awards, while Pebblebrook High School's Les Misérables and Wesleyan School's Into the Woods each took home one.

Six students also received special Shuler Scholarships at the ceremony, which took place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

See this year's nominees. The winners are:

13 Cobb high schools among America's Most Challenging

13 Cobb high schools among America's Most Challenging

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

2014 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

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

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

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

Some of this year's notable nominees include:

Ga. Race to the Top 'Year Three' Report

Ga. Race to the Top 'Year Three' Report

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

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

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

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

Some highlights from the report include:

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