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Reporter’s Notebook: Nearly 250,000 donations to local Can-A-Thon, APS names new Howard Middle School principal, Zoo Atlanta mourns loss of Sumatran tiger

The week in local news.

The holiday season is upon us! The SaportaReport team is grateful for our readers and community. We’re taking a break next week, but look out for the next edition of Reporter’s Notebook on Thursday, Jan 5. Happy holidays, Atlanta! 

On to other news around the city and metro area:

Greater Atlanta Christian School students load the van with nonperishables. (Photo courtesy of Greater Atlanta Christian School.)

11Alive/Salvation Army Can-A-Thon wraps, nearly 250,000 donated

Salvation Army and 11Alive recently wrapped up their annual joint Can-A-Thon — a holiday tradition for the last 40 years. In total, the food drive collected nearly 250,000 cans for the metro Atlanta community.

A large chunk of donations came from the Greater Atlanta Christian School in Gwinnett County, whose students, teachers and faculty donated 22,563 nonperishable items. Participating in the annual food drive has been a decade-long tradition for the school.

“Can-A-Thon increases our students’ understanding of the need to give food and love to our surrounding community where there is a great need right now,” President Scott Harsh wrote in a press release. “This is about more than just canned goods. Can-A-Thon is about the people who live and work alongside us.”

— Hannah E. Jones

APS names Tekeshia Hollis principal of Howard Middle School

On Monday, Atlanta Public Schools announced Sylvan Middle School administrator Tekeshia Hollis as principal of David T. Howard Middle School beginning Jan. 17. 

Howard’s previous principal, Janet McDowell, resigned two months after she started. Her time there was marked by parental complaints regarding dress code enforcement and problems with the ways gifted students were grouped. 

“Ms. Hollis is a dedicated leader who is focused on maximizing the potential of all students and educators,” Paul Brown, Associate Superintendent wrote in a message to parents. “As a teacher and a leader, she firmly believes high expectations, coupled with effective and quality instruction, will change students’ lives.”

Hollis’s appointment will be confirmed at the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 9.

— Allison Joyner

Sparky the Sumatran tiger. (Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta.)

Zoo Atlanta honors Sparky the Sumatran tiger

The Zoo Atlanta team is mourning the loss of a furry friend — Sparky, a male Sumatran tiger. Sparky passed away on Dec. 14 at 18 years old. In the wild, their expected lifespan is ten to 12 years.

Considered geriatric for a tiger, Sparky suffered multiple age-related conditions. It was decided that the procedure to repair his fractured tooth would continue to degrade his well-being. Ultimately, the team made the tough decision to euthanize Sparky. 

The loss of any tiger is hard on the species. The Sumatran tiger is designated as critically endangered, with an estimated less than 400 in the wild. Poaching for trade is responsible for nearly 80 percent of deaths. All six remaining tiger subspecies are critically endangered or endangered, and three subspecies are recent extinctions.

“Zoo Atlanta is heartbroken by the loss of Sparky, who was greatly loved by his care team and who inspired awe and fascination in all visitors who had the privilege of seeing him here at the Zoo. Our Animal Care and Veterinary Teams pursued every avenue in his care, even in the face of unresolvable age-related conditions,” Vice President of Collections and Conservation Jennifer Mickelberg wrote in a press release. “While losing such a special and beautiful individual is never easy, we are especially disheartened by the loss of such a critically endangered animal.”

— Hannah E. Jones

A preview for the “Start It Up!” game trailer. (Courtesy of GPB’s game homepage.)

GPB launches online game to teach high schoolers about economics

Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) recently launched “Start It Up!,” an online game that aims to teach teenagers about economics, using Georgia high school standards. The game was created in partnership with the Georgia Council on Economic Education and FableVision Studios.

“Start It Up!” walks users through the process of opening a business, including the risks and rewards, how to secure funding, why small businesses can fail and how to help them succeed. The game uses real-world examples to help expose high schoolers to the complexities of entrepreneurship. 

Players will start by selecting the type of business they will open. The students will then make decisions about funding, hiring, advertising, producing and other daily tasks, and will watch their business evolve over four quarters.

“We are proud to add Start It Up! to our collection of innovative, free resources for teachers and students,” said Laura Evans, Director of Education at Georgia Public Broadcasting. “Gamifying complex topics such as starting a new business from scratch has shown to increase student engagement and comprehension.”

Click here to play.

— Hannah E. Jones

Georgia Legal Services receives $250,000 to boost tech services

Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) is set to receive a Technology Initiative Grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSP). GLSP will use the $249,825 to better leverage technology in its services to low-income Georgians with civil legal needs.

LSP is an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. GLSP is funded in part by LSP.

GLSP will use the new funds to create six legal kiosks in rural counties where legal aid offices are far away and limited. Through these kiosks, users can apply for legal services, meet with their attorney virtually and access self-help tools.

“As a voice for rural Georgians in the Senate, I’ve been laser-focused on ensuring Georgians in every corner of the state have access to the resources and services they need to thrive,” Senator Raphael Warnock said in a press release. “This funding will help improve access to justice by providing legal assistance and information at safe and convenient locations to Georgians in their communities.”

This year, LSC has selected 29 legal services organizations across the country for its Technology Initiative Grants, totaling nearly $4,700,000. Since the program’s inception in 2000, LSC has awarded 859 grants — more than $81 million combined.

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and 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 two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.


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