The week in local news.

Get down this weekend at the three-day BeREGGAE Music and Arts Festival at Piedmont Park. Now in its 10th year, what began as a block party is regarded today as the largest reggae festival in the south. The annual program is a celebration of music, arts, culture and business of Afro-Caribbean and African-Diaspora roots. 

On to other local news:

APS announces interim superintendent ahead of first day of school

On Monday, the Atlanta Board of Education selected Dr. Danielle Battle as Atlanta Public School’s (APS) interim superintendent. 

The current superintendent, Dr. Lisa Herring, will transition her role to Battle by the end of August after an early departure from her contractual agreement with the board. 

“We appreciate Dr. Herring for her leadership, vision and service to APS, especially during an unprecedented time that impacted us all,” said Eshé Collins, Board Chair for the Atlanta Board of Education. 

In addition to selecting Battle as interim superintendent, Herring will transition to consultant for APS until the end of the year.

“As a long-time champion for student success, I am exceedingly proud of the progress made in the classroom and across the school district during my tenure,” Herring said. “I welcome working closely with Dr. Battle over the next few months to capitalize on the growth and gains achieved by our young scholars and to build upon our rich history of educational excellence.”

Battle has a 19-year career with APS and has served in several leadership roles, including principal of Parkside Elementary and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, associate superintendent and interim chief of schools and academics.

— Allison Joyner

The GRN team champions the protection of the Okefenokee Swamp, one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders. (Photo courtesy of the Georgia River Network.)

Georgia River Network celebrates 25 years

Georgia River Network (GRN), the only statewide advocacy organization dedicated solely to protecting in-state rivers, is hosting a celebration to mark 25 years of conservation work. Held on Sept. 8, conservation leaders and outdoor enthusiasts are invited to a night of live music, dancing and a sit-down dinner.

During the program, three local changemakers will receive Okefenokee Swamp Champion awards, including:

  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief David Hill, selected for declaring Okefenokee Swamp’s Trail Ridge as a Muscogee Sacred Site.
  • U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, chosen for his efforts to establish the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Representative Darlene Taylor, picked for her proposal of the Okefenokee Protection Act bill to ban mining on Okefenokee’s Trail Ridge.

For additional gala and ticketing information, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Georgia State Researcher awarded multi-million dollar grant to expand mental health offerings in schools

According to a 2020 CDC survey, from 2009 to 2019, there was a 40 percent increase in high schoolers who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

As one step in addressing this startling trend, Georgia State University’s Catherine Perkins — a clinical professor in the College of Education & Human Development— was recently selected for a five-year, $3.6 million grant. With this funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Perkins will help spearhead an effort to expand school-based mental health services for students at high-need schools.

Through this grant, metro Atlanta students will have more access to school-based programs and a stronger candidate pool for mental health professionals in districts with the most need. Additionally, the Paulding and Gwinnett county school districts are partnering with GSU to foster a community of providers who are trained to work in high-need schools.

“What we know is that there is a documented shortage of school psychologists in Georgia and nationwide,” Perkins wrote in a release. “We also know that the demographics of our profession do not represent the diversity of our K-12 students. With this grant, we will be able to address these challenges by increasing the number and diversity of school psychology students in our combined M.Ed./Ed.S. program.”

— Hannah E. Jones

The recent storms hit Grant Park hard. (Photo courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.)

Grant Park Conservancy seeks funds for storm recovery efforts

In the last week or so, Atlanta has weathered several severe thunderstorms. 

In Grant Park, a greenspace known for its tree canopy, 21 trees have toppled or been severely injured. The fallen trees have caused damage to the Milledge Fountain plumbing and fence, along with flooding near the pavilions.

To fund the repairs from the storm damage, the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) will use all August donations to support park restoration efforts. In addition to immediate clean up, this will include structural pruning (reducing the risk of fallen limbs), soil care (to nourish the trees’ health) and growth regulation (to strengthen the root systems).

In the meantime, the GPC team will assist the city with cleanup and work to replace the fountain’s fence. To support the storm recovery efforts, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Toneyce Randolph.

Morris Brown selects new provost ahead of fall semester

Earlier this month, Morris Brown College (MBC) announced Dr. Toneyce Randolph will be its new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

Randolph was previously the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Clinton College in Rock Hill, S.C., and will create a strategic plan, research agenda and academic objectives for the Historically Black institution. 

“As we navigate through a transformative phase known as ‘the hard reset,’ we are elated to welcome Dr. Randolph to our team,” said Dr. Kevin James, President of MBC. “Her strategic insights will undoubtedly propel Morris Brown College’s academic department and programs to unprecedented heights in our storied legacy.”

— Allison Joyner

Chamblee PD hosted back-to-school bash for local school kids, families

Last month, the Chamblee Police Department and their nonprofit, Chamblee Cop-N-Stuff, hosted an event to prepare children for the first day of school. 

The fifth annual back-to-school bash took place on the lawn in front of city hall for kids pre-k to 8th graders and their families. 

Over 500 backpacks filled with notebooks, colored pencils, binders and glue sticks for the students to be ready for school in August.  

— Allison Joyner

Henry County Sheriffs, Morehouse School of Medicine celebrates first graduates in life skills training program

Last month, 29 graduates completed the life skills training program hosted by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and Morehouse School of Medicine. 

The “a step in the right direction: pathway forward reentry program” gave soon-to-be-released incarcerated people from the Henry County jail skills training needed to adapt to life outside effectively. 

The six-week program launched in March and provided personal development, job readiness and procuring housing curriculum for the participants to use at the end of their sentence. 

Graduates received a certificate and participated in a graduation ceremony funded by a grant from WellPath.  

— Allison Joyner

The event will be held in SHA’s warehouse, where the team packs 8,000 meals every Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Second Helpings Atlanta.)

Second Helpings Atlanta hosts Feed Atlanta: A Night of Giving & Grooving

In celebration of Hunger Action Month in September, Second Helpings Atlanta is hosting its “Feed Atlanta: A Night of Giving & Grooving” on Thursday, Sept. 21. From 6 to 8 p.m., guests can enjoy a night of live music and food, including The Blaxican and The Patty Wagon.

The night will serve as a fundraiser to support the nonprofit’s mission to collect and distribute fresh, excess food around the city. Last year, the team rescued 4.1 million pounds of food that would’ve otherwise gone to the landfill.

Visitors can also meet the organization’s new executive director, Paul Clements, who stepped into the role in July.

Tickets are $45. Additional information can be found here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is a Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for...

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