Breaking News

Local News

September 17, 2013

Big 10: Mountain Creek Academy celebrates zero suspensions, new policies

Principal wants to disprove labels given to students, school

CHATSWORTH — “Boom.”

Writing that word in a Bagley Middle School bathroom sent then sixth-grader Corey Tilson to Murray County Schools’ Mountain Creek Academy, a school for middle and high school students who have faced disciplinary action.

So it’s a big accomplishment, said Tilson, now a 16-year-old senior, when the school goes 10 days with zero reported suspensions or referrals. The school celebrated its 10 days Monday afternoon. Within the first 10 days of school last year, there were about 45 suspensions or referrals, officials said.

Most of the students are there because “they did something stupid,” Tilson said, adding that his own actions as a pre-teen fall into that category. Ultimately being transferred to Mountain Creek “is for the best” for most, he added.

Tilson stayed at Mountain Creek even after he would have been allowed back to a regular school because of the one-on-one teaching style it offers. In that time he says he’s seen the place go from “basically prison” to “a real alternative school.”

“The place has gotten better,” Tilson said.

That’s because Mountain Creek staff have spent the last two years trying to change the school’s focus by making changes and adding new policies, Principal Marcus Richardson said.

A safer school?

Richardson said he’s “excited” for the new policies he credits for the reduction in the number of suspensions and referrals (when a student is moved from the student’s “home school” to Mountain Creek for a period of time).

One of those changes is using hand-held metal detectors — or wands — to search students for weapons, a policy put in place after Richardson said a Mountain Creek student was arrested after he took a sawed-off shotgun to Bagley Middle School on Sept. 11 of last year.

Richardson said the student, who was expelled from Murray County Schools after a school tribunal, had been at Mountain Creek two days after moving to Chatsworth from North Carolina. No one was hurt and the shotgun was never fired, school and law enforcement officials said.

But it was a close call, school officials said, so implementing a search-at-the-door policy was important.

“It does affect us,” Richardson said. “But what have we done? We now search our students. We take their shoes off and their personal electronic devices go into a locker while they are here. At first, students were upset. But when they realize it is for their safety they became OK with it. Now it’s just part of the day.”

A survey last year provided by Richardson said 78 percent of the approximately 65 students at the school felt safe. This year, 92 percent of students said they feel safe.

Tilson is one of those students.

“There’s been less fights, less students sneaking in drugs, less — well — anything negative,” he said. “It’s better.”

Ashley King, a senior one class shy of graduating a year-and-a-half earlier than her peers, agrees. King said she came to Mountain Creek both in seventh and 10th grade for drug use, opting to stay for an early graduation in a place that lets her “work at her own pace.”

Now, King said, she’s been avoiding bad influences and is on her way to starting tech school and getting a forensics nursing degree. She will always remember Mountain Creek as “a great place,” she said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Longtime Dalton business Green Spot to close

    Larry Green says he made the decision more than a year ago.

    July 29, 2014

  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    Money.
    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo