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Garrettsville – On or around June 1st of every year, children begin to realize summer break is quickly approaching for the James A. Garfield Schools. After nine long months of exerting academic rigor, athletic competition, artistic prowess and community service, our students gain a little extra energy as the end of the school year nears. While our students are excited for the long summer break, our staff begins to take an emotional roller coaster ride. They are excited to begin planning another year with students, but are sad to see a group of familiar students move to the next grade. They are inspired by the speeches of our graduating seniors, but feel a brief sense of emptiness as the seniors walk out our doors for the final time. Whether you are a student or staff member, the one common feeling we all share is a sense of pride in what we have accomplished this year. Here is a quick glance in the 2014/15 rearview mirror:

A Campus of Excellence – In August the district opened the school year with a brand new configuration….. a Campus of Excellence. The completion of a 17,500 square foot addition welcomed our Park Avenue fifth and sixth grade students and staff back to our campus. This cost-saving measure was made possible by a $5 Million grant from the Ohio Department of Education, meaning no local taxpayer dollars were used!

New Partners – The YMCA of Greater Cleveland opened a location at the Park Avenue building in September.

Offering youth athletic programs such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, track and flag football, the YMCA started spreading their strong roots through our community. The YMCA is now offering older active adult programming and has plans to offer before and after school care for the 2015/16 school year.

Elementary School Honored – In October JAG Elementary School was recognized as a School of Promise and a High Performing School of Honor. The awards are extremely prestigious. There were only 98 Schools of Promise and 48 High Performing Schools of Honor from around the entire state!

A Right to Bare Arms – In November, under the direction of middle school teacher Mr. King, our students performed “A Right to Bare Arms”. In doing so,  JAG students continued a rich history of quality performances in the Iva L. Walker Auditorium.

Snow Days – We were faced with another brutal winter that caused the district to miss school for a total of seven days due to a combination of recordsetting cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. It was one of the first years in which students were calling the schools in hopes they would be open!

Testing Struggles – New online tests captured our attention in the spring of 2015. There was so much controversy over the amount of testing that our State Representative, Sarah LaTourette, visited our district to listen to the concerns of parents and staff members. This meeting helped plant the seeds for statewide legislation that is currently working to reduce the amount and type of testing!

Local and Global Travelers – While students in the sixth and eighth grades continued to learn by traveling to Washington D.C. and Niagara Falls some of our students set their sights on faraway lands. This year Rachel Schwan spent her senior year studying abroad in Thailand, and Garfield Junior Kyle Collins prepared to spend his senior year studying abroad in Japan!

Stellar Seniors Graduate – In May, the Garfield High School class of 2015 made history as one of the highest academic-achieving classes to ever graduate. They were the first class to score over 93% on all sections of the Ohio Graduation Test. They earned 241 college credits while in high school and garnered nearly $800,000 in scholarships! They are one of the most outstanding groups of students to ever walk the halls of our schools.

Track Stars – Senior thrower Edie Svonavec became the first AllAmerican athlete to walk the halls of Garfield High School in March as she placed fifth in the national indoor track meet in New York City with a shotput throw of 47 feet, 9 inches. Just last weekend Ms. Svonavec was the first Garfield track athlete to defend her State title and become a two-time State Champion!

Sophomore Lauren Jones qualified for the state track tournament in three events (shotput, long jump and discus). Jones’ toss of 141 feet, 1 inch earned her a state title for the discus.

These athletes (pictured above) demonstrate the excellence we all strive to achieve!

We are all proud to be a part of the culture of excellence that is well established in our community. While we take great pride in reflecting on the events in our rearview mirror, we know what lies ahead of us is even more promising. Thank you for making our school district the greatest place to live, work and learn!

Go, GMen!