10.26 Atlanta Public Schools Weekly News Tip Sheet (October 26 - 31)

Office of Communications and Public Engagement
130 Trinity Avenue SW | Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Ian Smith, Executive Director
404-802-2855, office
404-603-6934, cell



Seth Coleman, Media Relations Manager
404-802-2891, office
404-406-5570, cell


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

October 27, 2020


Atlanta Public Schools Weekly News Tip Sheet (October 26 - 31)


Editors/Producers/Reporters: The following is a list of events, programs, accomplishments and/or initiatives occurring in Atlanta Public Schools (APS) this week. Please use it as a guide as you develop your coverage plans.


Members of the media are invited to attend all events on the Weekly APS News Tip Sheet. If you have an interest in these stories, please contact Seth Coleman, Media Relations Manager.  Thank you for your interest in Atlanta Public Schools!



APS Students Have Read Nearly 1 Million Minutes in Annual Race2Read Challenge

Even in the era of coronavirus (COVID-19), Atlanta Public Schools’ dedication to improving student literacy remains.

This year APS is once again partnering with Urban League of Greater Atlanta to challenge students, teachers, staff, parents, community members and business partners to read daily to help collectively reach 10 million minutes of leisure reading this academic year, through the APS Race2Read Challenge. Learn more and see photos of some of the District’s top readers for the month here.

In the first month of the third annual APS Race2Read Challenge, APS students have helped log 798,566 minutes of leisurely reading.

“Encouraging our students to leisurely read remains a priority for Atlanta Public Schools, particularly during the pandemic that has presented many students with stresses,” said Patrice Laird-Walker, APS Media Services Coordinator. “Reading 20 minutes a day for pleasure can help alleviate stress, and it helps students maintain or improve their reading proficiency levels. If you are looking for something fun to do while socially distancing, try reading. And the cherry on top is that it’s totally free.” 

The citywide Race2Read Challenge kicked off Sept. 21 and aims to erase the critical literacy gap by uniting schools, families, churches, businesses and public and private sectors to help increase reading proficiency of APS students. To help APS reach the goal of 10 million minutes for the new school year, register as an individual or a family at www.race2read.org. For more information on Race2Read and volunteer opportunities, contact EducationEquity@ulgatl.org.






Grady Debate Team Gives Another Impressive Showing

Not even COVID-19 can slow down the Grady Jesters!


The Jesters, the Grady High School speech and debate team, had the most students advance and place than any other school participating in the Wildcat at Winnersville Speech and Debate Tournament, hosted by Valdosta High School, last weekend. Schools from Georgia, Tennessee and Florida attended the tournament.


The Jesters have won the state championship – the Georgia Forensics Coaches Association championships – for 11 consecutive years. Top performers at the Winnersville Tournament included:


Original Oratory: Salaam Awad, 5th Place; Oliver Gray, 2nd Place 

Informative Speaking: Bryant Hodgson, 4th Place; Nora Ball, 3rd Place 

Extemporaneous Speaking: Bryant Hodgson, 5th Place; Maeve Malaney-Lau, 4th Place; Oliver Gray, 3rd Place: Jorge Navarrete, 2nd Place; George Lefkowicz, CHAMPION 

Public Forum Debate: Duncan Tanner & Cole Parker, CHAMPIONS 

Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Aran Sonnad-Joshi, 3rd Speaker; Lauren Scaffidi, 1st Speaker; Lauren Scaffidi, 2nd Place Overall 



The Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Public Schools have announced a formalized partnership for “Hawks at Home.”


“Hawks at Home” is an innovative online program created to educate and help youth stay active during this time of social distancing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hawks have empowered kids across the state of Georgia and beyond to learn basketball skills from Atlanta Hawks coaches, players, and Hawks Basketball Academy instructors, all from the comfort of their own homes.


Launched at the beginning of the 2020 summer, more than 10,000 area youth have participated in the program and enjoyed the unprecedented access to a safe, fun and free extracurricular activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“The pandemic has limited student access to extracurricular programs,” said Atlanta Hawks’ Vice President of Basketball Development Jon Babul. “We are thrilled to partner with Atlanta Public Schools to bring the Hawks at Home program to the APS community. Working together to promote healthy living and providing physical, social and emotional learning opportunities to students is teamwork at its finest.”


As part of this new partnership with APS, “Hawks at Home” will now be offered as a resource to teachers, coaches and students of APS as part of a weekly program that focuses on various health and wellness efforts.


“Time and again, we have been humbled by the support of the Atlanta Hawks and we are especially excited about Hawks at Home,” said APS Executive Director of Partnerships and Development Rachel Sprecher. “Every week, our students and our school community look forward to working out with the team’s trainers and pros and we’re so grateful for this outlet for them to get moving and have fun!”


APS has been a longstanding partner of the Atlanta Hawks, and in the past, both have worked together on multiple youth basketball programs in addition to various health and wellness efforts. In September, during APS’ ‘Back to School Bash’, the Hawks presented a special ‘Hawks at Home’ live class, which hundreds of students attended.


For more information on Hawks at Home, including school partnerships, please email hawkscamps@hawks.com. To register for upcoming live classes, visit Hawks.com/HawksatHome


To watch a recent “Hawks at Home” lesson that streamed live on Oct. 15, click here.




About Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 52,000 students across 87 schools. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 58 traditional schools, 18 charter schools, six partner schools, two citywide single-gender academies and three alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter (@apsupdate), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at www.atlantapublicschools.us.