Our network

Schools

Back to school surprise: Weekend roadwork canceled

Back to school surprise: Weekend roadwork canceled

(WXIA) -- This weekend will be a holiday for Georgia families in more ways than one.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has suspended construction-related lane closures on all major interstates and highways within five miles of malls and shopping districts.

This will allow parents and students to enjoy the tax-free shopping weekend without the added stress of road delays.

"The sales tax holiday is an opportunity for Georgians to save a little money during these challenging economic times," GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden said. "The department is glad to offer some relief from lane closures as families prepare for school."

11Alive Ways to Save reporter Valerie Hoff has some of the best tax-free weekend deals. Find out how to get the most bang for your buck.

Thousands enroll in Ga. Pre-K Program

Thousands enroll in Ga. Pre-K Program

(WXIA) -- More than 80,000 Georgia children are enrolled in the state's Pre-K Program for the 2014-15 school year.

Pre-K is open to all 4 year olds, regardless of household income. Assistant commissioner Susan Adams said that it is the first school experience for many children.

"For this reason, we take our roles very seriously, and we work really hard to provide Georgia's children with positive and meaningful experiences," Adams said in a release.

In Pre-K, students study language, literacy and math while making new friends and building foundations for lifelong learning. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning recommends parents visit their children's classrooms in advance to familiarize them with their new surroundings, and dress them in comfortable clothes and shoes every day. If students have a tendency to feel lonely, parents can send them to school with family photos to cheer them up, and blankets or stuffed animals to snuggle at naptime.

Ga. libraries launch college savings sweepstakes

Ga. libraries launch college savings sweepstakes

(WXIA) -- Public libraries across Georgia will participate in this year's Summer Reading Program and college savings sweepstakes.

The initiative, which is hosted by Georgia's Path2College 529 Plan, will award one grand prize and four regional scholarships to five lucky participants. The winners will be chosen at random from five groups.

The grand prize is a college scholarship worth $5,529 and a $1,529 grant for the winner's library. The runners-up will each get $1,529 to put toward a Path2College 529 Plan and $529 for their libraries.

Georgia parents, grandparents and legal guardians can sign up their children at path2college529.com. Entry closes on Aug. 10.

The program provides students with activities throughout the summer and encourages them to read by giving them prizes for finishing books, ebooks, audiobooks and magazines.

Participating library groups include:

DeKalb schools join Jobs for Georgia's Graduates

DeKalb schools join Jobs for Georgia's Graduates

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- AT&T and Jobs for America's Graduates have teamed up to curb the dropout rate at five DeKalb County high schools.

Clarkston, Cross Keys, Lithonia, McNair and Towers high schools will participate in the Jobs for Georgia's Graduates program, which helps students in underserved communities through tutoring, mentoring and other social services.

"I want to bring the JGG program to our schools in DeKalb County to share (the) opportunity for success with our high school students that need it the most," DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond said.

AT&T recently gave Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) a $1 million grant; some of that money will benefit DeKalb students.

JAG has helped nearly 1 million disadvantaged students go to college and secure good jobs. In 2012, the organization reported a 93 percent high school graduation rate among its participants, compared to 78.2 percent nationwide.

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