Buford High School’s baseball field, Gerald McQuaig Field, has already undergone several upgrades over the last couple of years and will soon get one more upgrade as the Buford Board of Education has voted to approve the construction manager for the second phase of the BHS Baseball Bleacher Addition Project at the board’s Feb. 20 meeting.

At the Feb. 20, 2023, meeting of the Buford Board of Education, winners of the 3rd annual BCSS Black History Month Poetry Contest read their winning poems before meeting attendees. Those winners are Claire Neubauer, 7th grade, “You’re There for Me”; Olivia Jones, 6th grade, “A Tree From Up Above”; Jennifer “Jae” Tudor, 8th grade, “Voice” and Hailey Conwell, 11th grade, “Words of Wisdom”. Photo by Alicia Payne

The board unanimously approved Charles Black Construction Company as the project’s construction manager. Charles Black Construction Company will be responsible for installing additional bleachers in between the two existing sets of bleachers where the old press box was located. Construction on this addition will begin after baseball season is completed.

At the meeting, Black History Month was celebrated as students from Buford City Schools read their winning poems that they had entered into the district’s annual Black History Month Poetry Contest before the meeting attendees. Also honoring Black History Month was an all-male choral group directed under the leadership of BMS Chorus Director Meredith Drake. The group sang an African spiritual or hymn titled, “The Chariot Spiritual”.

In the February meeting, the board also voted to approve:

  • A new policy regarding EGAA Workers’ Compensation
  • To surplus technology items from Buford Academy, Buford Middle School and Central Office
  • To approve pay requests to Charles Black Construction Company in the amounts of $183,137 for the new BHS baseball field restrooms, $412,475 for the new BMS addition and $60,172.74 for the new BHS football stadium.
  • To approve pay requests to Breaux & Associates in the amounts $49,005.43 for the new BHS football stadium and $923.16 for the new BHS baseball field restrooms.
  • To approve the appointment of Breaux & Associates as the architect for the new BHS stadium project
  • To surplus 60 chairs from the old team meeting room at BMS that were not able to be reused elsewhere 
  • Eight field trip requests and five fundraiser requests
  • A resolution that would allow for the children of families that the Buford Housing Authority is having to temporarily house outside of the city limits until their new apartments were constructed to still attend Buford City Schools without penalty
  • To increase the weekly rate for the daycare that is available to employees of the city of Buford and Buford City Schools. The rates will be increased by $25 per week per child enrolled starting for the 2023-2024 school year.

Mark Graves, principal of Buford Elementary School was the first to give his report. The enrollment at BES is 374 students. They have been busy celebrating Black History Month with the highlight of the celebration was when three-time Olympic gold medalist Gayle Devers and Ex-Braves player Brian Jordan read to students. On Feb. 3 was Dad’s Day kickball game with the students winning the game. Read Across America week will be celebrated Feb. 27-Mar. 2 with 130 BHS lifetimers will come to read to students on Mar. 2. District-wide kindergarten enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year will begin on Mar. 6.

Buford Academy principal Elena Hernandez-Vo said BA’s enrollment is 1,282 students and they too have been celebrating Black History Month. The school continues to partner with the Buford branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library to offer services to students and their families including making Chromebooks with hot spots available for families to check out. The media center has received the majority of its new furniture for the media center. 

Kaleen Pulley, principal of Buford Senior Academy said the school has 868 students currently enrolled and Black History Month has been focused on during the month. The BSA PTO served school staff with a delicious Valentine’s Day lunch. Band and Chorus students have been busy preparing for their upcoming spring concerts. The Drama club has been hard at work to perfect their upcoming play “Alice in Wonderland”. 

Buford Middle School’s current enrollment is 1,395 students as reported by Keith Johnson, principal of BMS. Staff are hard at work to prepare rising 9th grade students and their families for a smooth transition to BHS. This includes an information session for parents on Mar. 6 at the BHS Performing Arts Center. Buford Middle School’s soccer and track and field seasons are underway. BMS students participated in All-State Chorus Feb. 17-18 at The Classic Center in Athens.

Teresa Hagelthorn, Buford High School’s principal said the high school’s current enrollment is 1,793 students. Announcements and other activities have been taking place all month in honor of Black History Month. 

In Academics, 102 students completed 118 Credit Repair courses in January to stay on track to graduate on time. Ten DECA students placed at their recent state competition and will attend the international competition in Orlando, Florida in April. Six students have advanced in the Governor’s Honors Program. Caleb Ledford is a National Merit finalist. Buford High School earned the following 2023 AP honors — AP Humanities School, AP Humanities Achievement School, AP School of Distinction, AP STEM School and AP STEM School of Distinction. The region literary competition will take place at the Buford Community Center Mar. 6 and admission is free to everyone. The state literary competition will be held at the BHS PAC on Mar. 18.

In Athletics, the wrestling team was runner-up in the State Traditional Championship and had two individual state champions, Drew Gorman and Gavin Pope.  Both girls and boys basketball teams won their region championship. They begin play in the state playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Buford Arena. The competition dance team placed fourth in the state in both the pom and jazz divisions. On Saturday, Feb. 25 teams will compete in the State Game Day Cheer and Game Day Dance competitions at Columbus State University. The many spring sports are all underway.

In the Arts, 13 students participated in All-State Chorus in Athens Feb. 17-18 and 11 students will participate in All-State Band Mar. 2-4 in Athens as well. The BHS dance show is going to be Mar. 2-3 at the BHS PAC. The first ever BMS/BHS orchestra concert will take place on Mar. 7 at 6 p.m. at the BHS PAC. 

A brief presentation was by Dr. Lacrecia Smith on the school district’s Diversity and Inclusion committees’ work, as well as the school district’s efforts to diversify their workforce.

After no additional comments/business was brought before the Board of Education, Chairman Phillip Beard adjourned the meeting to go into executive session. The next Buford Board of Education meeting will be on Mar. 20 at 7 p.m. at Buford City Schools Central Office, 2625 Sawnee Ave. 

FEATURED PHOTO:  The all-male choral group from Buford Middle School sang an African spiritual or hymn titled, “The Chariot Spiritual” to honor Black History Month during the Feb. 20, 2023, Buford Board of Education meeting. Photo by Mafe Gwin.

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