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Class Notes: More than 700 graduate from University of North Georgia
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More than 700 students received degrees during the four commencement ceremonies the University of North Georgia held Saturday and Sunday.

One of the speakers was U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who reminded the graduates this was not an ending, but a beginning.

“Graduates, when I sat where you (are) 25 years ago, I didn’t think I’d get to come back and go to the bookstore, much less stand before you speaking,” Collins said. “The University of North Georgia has given you the tools to start, not to finish. It’s given you the tools to dream, not to quit dreaming.”

The other speakers were former state Sen. Jane Hemmer and Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James McCoy.

“We recognize what it took to get to this moment, and all of us are proud of you and optimistic about your future,” said UNG President Bonita Jacobs. “We are confident that, as graduates of UNG, you will add value and meaning to the lives of others.”

Spring commencements take place May 9-10. For more information, visit

Gainesville schools consider restoring furlough days

Gainesville City Schools plans to recommend the restoration of two or three teacher furlough days at the next work session of the board, Jan. 6.

As it stands now, there are four days left from which to choose: Feb. 14, Feb. 17, April 4 and May 29. The Feb. 14 and April 4 dates were for both students and staff.

There were 10 scheduled furlough days for this school calendar year, and the system has previously restored Oct. 15, Dec. 19 and Jan. 3. It costs approximately $244,180 to restore each furlough day, according to Chief Financial Officer Janet Allison.

East Hall academy becomes newest program of choice

East Hall High School’s blended learning academy is Hall County School District’s newest program of choice.

The academy, deemed by students as Endless Possibilities in Creativity and Collaboration, was approved for open applications at the Monday meeting of the Hall school board. A program of choice is a separate entity, almost like a “school within a school,” allowing for more flexibility and creativity in academics. Another example of a program of choice would be the Da Vinci Academy of South Hall Middle School.

Classes taught for the 10th- and 11th-grade program are Spanish, mathematics and literature. School officials are considering adding history and science.

John Hardison, one of the lead teachers at EPICC, said the faculty expects the numbers to double and possibly triple for next year. There are around 60 students in the program, he said.

“We’re hoping most of these kids will go ahead and roll on over into their next courses in here,” he said. “Then if we had, let’s just say 60 more, from the upcoming 10th-graders, immediately that gets you to 120.”

There’s no set date yet, but the application process will begin early in 2014. Hardison said the faculty is working on information to distribute; a link will also be set up on

Hall, Gainesville schools off through beginning of January

Finals are (almost) over, and books are closing across Hall County, at least over the next couple of weeks.

The last day for classes before the winter holiday in the Hall County School District was Tuesday; Gainesville’s last day will be Thursday. Students in Gainesville return Jan. 6, while Hall County has an extra day — students go back Jan. 7.

Carly Sharec covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: