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Class notes: North Hall students give hope to homeless
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Students from North Hall High School are trying to give the homeless youth in the area, and abroad, some hope.

Since the end of January, 78 students from North Hall have been doing a research project exploring a social issue: homelessness among youth.

“As a part of this project, I ask the kids to consider the question: ‘Now that you know, what will you do?’” said Tessa Shirley, the teacher who prompted the research.

The students chose the topic and the culminating component of the project is community service.

This Friday night, the students will host a “Hope for the Homeless” walk to raise awareness and funds to help fight youth homelessness in the area, state and world.

“I think doing the project makes people realize (homelessness is) not just in major cities like Atlanta or New York,” said Maggie Tolson, a freshman at North Hall. “The statistics and the facts are really shocking for a lot of us because we didn’t think it was in Hall County as much as it was.”

According to, in 2009, there were almost 60,000 homeless children in Georgia.

That includes children living in alternative housing (hotels, campgrounds, etc.), shared housing and on the streets.

“I feel it’s important, specifically to the students attending this high school, because they really don’t know how close the problem is to us,” said Brannan Vitek, a freshman. “One of the most important parts is getting the word out.”

And the students are spreading the message.

Over 80 teams have registered to walk in Friday night’s event at the North Hall track from 8-10 p.m. Organizers are still looking to add more.

The goal is to raise $7,800, slated to be donated to four nonprofits: My Sister’s Place, The Covenant House, Street Grace and Give Us Names.

A representative from each will be speaking Friday night.

But students wanted to take it one step further.

About 32 students will spend the night in a makeshift homeless community in an attempt to experience what it’s like for just one night.

“I think we can create a large impact with this,” said Ashlyn Balch, a freshman.

For more information or to register, email Shirley at

Piedmont College names vice president of advancement
Bill Loyd has been named as vice president for institutional advancement at Piedmont College, said James Mellichamp, interim president.

Loyd will direct the development, marketing and public relations functions at the college.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position,” Loyd said. “The development team now in place does a phenomenal job of promoting the college. Each member has an energetic attitude, an ability to lead, and the willingness to serve. I look forward to being an integral part of this endeavor and to serving an extraordinary institution like Piedmont College.”

He comes to Piedmont from South Carolina Bank and Trust, where he served as the senior vice president and public relations consultant.

Lee Johnson covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:,

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