FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MAY 15, 2020
District Implements Increased Screening Procedures for Building Entry
Pickens High School Reopened
Pickens High School was closed earlier in the week for detailed cleaning due to an employee
accessing the building while awaiting test results for COVID-19. It was determined later the
same day that the employee tested positive although asymptomatic. The school has now been
The district has intensified its procedures for employees and visitors who wish to enter any
building, including schools. All individuals will be required to answer a questionnaire posted on
the front door of each building, as well as sign-in and out if they meet entry requirements.
Hand sanitizing stations have been set-up at the entrances as well. Additionally, notification of
these procedures has been sent out through email to all staff.
Graduation activities will continue to take place at Dragon Stadium provided the weather
cooperates Friday evening and Saturday. Volunteers and staff members will be available to
assist families and graduates. The PHS Welcome Center will have specific directions when you
arrive on campus.
The school district appreciates the support of its stakeholders during this time. The district will
continue to adhere to health and safety precautions and guidance provided by the Department
of Public Health and CDC in order to protect our students, their families, and our staff.
Destini Shope, Director of Community Engagement and Public Relations
706-253-1700 ext. 328
Pickens County School District was notified this evening that an employee of Pickens High
School, who was in the building today, has since received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
Out of an abundance of caution, the district has immediately closed the building for extensive
cleaning and will continue to follow guidance from the Department of Public Health and the
Graduation activities scheduled for this week will continue as planned. Although the staff
member was not in the area planned for filming, the location of the graduation ceremony has
been moved to a different section of the PHS campus and not in the main facility. We have
multiple locations on campus where filming can take place if needed. Graduates, families and
guests will receive specific directions regarding the location through Infinite Campus messenger
and email, as well as at the Welcome Center upon arrival.
Volunteers and staff members will be available to assist families and graduates. The district will
continue to be vigilant in following necessary precautions in order to maintain the health and
safety of our students, their families, and our staff.
Destini Shope, Director of Community Engagement and Public Relations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEBRUARY 6, 2020
Congratulations to the Pickens High School Esports Rocket League team who brought
home their second State Championship title after winning at Mount Vernon Presbyterian
School – Glenn Campus in Sandy Springs on February 5, 2020. This year’s team members are
Captain Mason Watkins (Senior), Carter Logan (Sophomore), Tristan Warren (Sophomore),
Colby James (Senior), and Dalton Garner (Sophomore). Many fans were on hand to support this
Esports stands for electronic sports, not to be confused with video games. What sets
Esports apart is the level of organized competitive gameplay between teams and its own strict
set of rules and guidelines. Esports is about teamwork, communication, strategic thinking, and
leadership – in all the same ways that traditional sports are and then some. Esports popularity
continues to grow with over 400 million fans worldwide. Numerous colleges and universities
offer almost 10 million dollars in scholarships for Esports. The opportunity to participate in
Esports offers our students the opportunity to do what they love and enjoy, and provides
Carter Logan is one of the top scorers in Georgia and averages over 10 goals a game.
Tristan Warren and Mason Watkins both lead in assists. In last nights win, Mason was the top
scorer! The Fastest Dog, a local business in the community, provides the computers the team
uses, and they also provide team jerseys. Last year, The Fastest Dog graciously helped to
sponsor the team’s state championship rings. If you would like to view this year’s winning
game click here!
Pickens County School District is proud of this team of students. Behind every winning
team, you will find a coach who inspires and motivates his team. Mr. Will Nix continues to do
an outstanding job working beside and coaching the Esports program, and we appreciate his
leadership. Congratulations to Mr. Nix and Pickens High School two-time State Champions,
JASPER, GA – Citizens of Pickens County packed out the high school’s performing arts center to voice their opposition and support of the new transgender restroom procedure, leading Superintendent Wilson to temporarily suspend the administrative action.
The meeting scheduled to last only two hours went well into the three-hour mark as close to 50 parents, students, and citizens passionately discussed their opinions on the transgender restroom procedure enacted last week.
You can watch the entire transgender restroom procedure public forum below.
Approximately 800 people came out to hear Wilson’s response to their concerns during the public discussion. Wilson asked everyone in attendance to remember that each student is a child with the right to be listened to, nurtured and loved.
Many cited faith, safety, and bullying as their main concerns about the change in policy.
“I would never in my life use a restroom in which a female is in,” said Nathan Barfield, a veteran, and father of two, “No person’s rights are more important than anyone else. My son has a huge heart and he doesn’t want to say anything for fear that he is going to be labeled a bully.”
The audience burst into an uproar of applause after Barfield’s comments.
Supporter Kayla Hollyfield spoke out, “You should be able to use any restroom that you want to use. This is not about left or right. It’s about equal rights. It’s not an agenda.”
Throughout the meeting, speakers were interrupted by their opposition and later on for calls for Wilson to answer the growing list of concerns that the school’s attorney added to with every speaker.
The administration kept a running list of concerns with every speaker during the policy hearing. One even suggested documenting all transgender students, so everyone would know who could go into which restroom.
Wilson stated that with the current procedure teachers could ask students going to the bathroom if they identified as a boy or girl before entering.
Kino Ciel Stanfield quietly approached the podium and revealed that he a 2017 Pickens graduate is a transgendered individual. He began the transition process soon after graduating from Pickens County High.
“To transition isn’t something taken lightly,” he said. “I spoke to doctors and specialists and we came to the conclusion that this was best for me.”
He expressed discomfort with using the boy’s restroom while in high school, not only for himself but for his younger siblings as well. Stanfield wanted everyone to be comfortable, which came at the expense of his gender identity.
Stanfield used the single stall nurse’s restroom and teacher’s lounge bathroom while at school because it was easier. This option is offered to every transgender student at Pickens High School.
Out of the nearly 50 speakers, only a handful had recently graduated from PCS. Some parents expressed concern that their children didn’t want to speak out on the issue for fear of retaliation from both sides.
Superintendent Dr. Wilson addressed this, “I don’t understand the feeling either from students or adults that anything they say or have an opinion about would be retaliated against. I don’t want anyone here tonight not to speak because they feel intimidated.”
The crowd broke out in laughter at Wilson’s comments because no one believed this issue wouldn’t result in some form of retaliation from one group or the other.
One student made a threat against those opposing the policy on social media on Friday, Oct. 11, and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office promptly handled the situation.
At 8:45 p.m., Wilson addressed the crowd saying he would review everyone’s concerns and issue a press release with his decision over the next couple of days. However, for now, the transgender restroom procedure has been suspended.
Wilson told Fetch Your News that he would weigh everyone’s comments and make his decision soon. He didn’t reveal in which direction he was leaning.
Dr. Wilson apologized for misspeaking on a news outlet that the circuit 11 court system mandated the transgender bathrooms for schools. In fact, the ruling hasn’t gone into effect yet. The lower courts that heard the case before the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals found that not allowing a transgender student to use the bathroom that they identify with is sex discrimination.
Transgender is defined as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. It does not correlate with any specific sexual orientation or sex. Gender represents one’s sense of self and how they want to be perceived by the world. Sex relates to a person’s biological status either male, female, or intersex.
As of June 2018, 18 states and the District of Columbia have passed anti-discrimination laws to protect transgender people. Currently, Georgia is not one of those 18 states.
According to Ballotpedia, at least two other school systems have faced lawsuits dealing with transgender bathroom policy. Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board began when a transgender male sued the school for instituting a policy that prohibited transgender individuals from using the bathroom with which they identify. Grimm argued the school system violated Title IX, a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.
In a January 7, 2015 letter, The U.S. Department of Education interpreted this ban on gender discrimination included discrimination against people based on their gender identities and their use of bathrooms.
Grimm lost the initial decision but won a 2 to 1 decision in Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to interpret Title IX. As of 2017, the case was remanded back to the fourth circuit after new guidance from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education.
Doe v. Regional School Unit 26 holds the distinction of being the first case where a state court ruled that a trans-student could use the bathroom that they choose. The Supreme Court of Maine overturned lower court rulings on the basis of the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Citizens of Pickens County have stated that they are prepared to go into legal battle with the school to prevent transgender bathrooms from coming to Pickens High School.
Cherry Log, Ga. – Amidst allegations and being wanted “in connection with kidnapping and sexual assault,” Bradley Justin Cochran was found dead yesterday in Metter, Ga from an apparent suicide.
Cochran lived in Cherry Log, Ga and was a former student of Pickens County High School, according to his Facebook Profile.
A release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) states the Cochran allegedly forced his way into a vehicle with three women at a grocery store in Statesboro. After they drove into Candler County, Cochran allegedly sexually assaulted two of the women before stealing the car and leaving the females on foot.
The Statesboro Police Department posted on their Facebook Page Monday saying, “As events unfolded, our officers were amazed by their strength and bravery. These women were just minding their own business, trying to leave the parking lot, when a stranger threatened them with a knife and forced his way into their vehicle.”
All three survived the encounter. Police say it is simply because of the quick action in a fight for survival. Hailing the girls as survivors and warriors.
They continued to praise the victims for their action as they “were able to create a diversion so one of them could escape, from a moving vehicle, to get help. She was able to give law enforcement vital information that led to the identification of the suspect and helped locate the other two women, and most likely saved their lives.”
The GBI was requested to join the investigation on Sunday, August 26, by the Candler County Sheriff’s Office and the Statesboro Police Department.
As the search for Cochran grew to include all three agencies, the Candler County Sheriff’s Office stated, “There was an extensive investigation and manhunt throughout the night and into the morning. All agencies and personnel involved demonstrated how a multi-agency operation should be carried out.”
At this time, the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, but the GBI did confirm that Cochran’s body will be sent to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Savannah, Ga for official cause and manner of death.
Pickens County Government, like many other government entities is taking full advantage of the hot summer months to pave as many roads as financially possible. All paving projects are funded through LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) and SPLOST (Special Local Option Sales Tax) dollars. During the month of July, subcontractor crews repaved: Upper Grandview, Grandview Circle, Hickory Cove, Cove View Valley, Cove Hill Road, Old Cove Road, Scott Drive, Southbrook Drive, Eastwood Circle, Paradise Lane, East Eden Way, and West Eden Way. The 2018 paving contract is now roughly 65 percent complete with the remainder to be paved in the coming weeks. Pickens County Public Works repaved: Griffith Road and Tate Mill Way. Additionally, they completed a project to widen Pettit Road and plan to begin tar and graveling that road, along with Jordan Road, Thomason Road, and Evans Road. Public Works is continuing routine maintenance around the county while dealing with some inclement weather. Over the last few weeks, Public Works has cleaned up 95 trees downed by heavy rain and wind.
During the month of July, the 911 Operations Center received 1,809 total calls, 753 were medical responses and fire related. The Water Department installed 10 new meters. The Department of Planning and Development issued 37 new building permits. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 101 animals, and 100 animals went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 7 cases. The Recreation Department concluded another successful year of Summer Camp with an average of 55 kids a day. Pickens County Fire Station #12 off Carlan Road is expected to be completed in approximately two months. The exterior of the structure is nearly complete with now the focus on the interior construction. Pickens County government departments continue to stay busy working hard for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continues to do an excellent job of leading these efforts. As work progresses, and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments. To stay up to date like us on Facebook and Twitter, and check out our website www.pickenscountyga.gov.
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
Monday May 21st was an exciting day for outgoing senior Lizzie Haughwout and her teammates of Pickens High School Soccer. Haughwout put the pen to paper and signed her National Letter of Intent to lace up her cleats and play soccer for Coach Alizira Sisman and the Fillies of ABAC(Abraham Balwin Agricultural College).
Haughwout has played soccer from a young age starting in youth leagues, through middle school and the last four years as a Dragon. She plays probably the toughest position on the field. The Goalkeeper doesn’t like to do a lot but when they do it is physical and their focus has to be spot on.. Lizzie is coming off an injury to her labrum in her right shoulder but is expected to fully recover and get back in the keepers box soon. Haughwout will be an excellent fit for the Fillies both on and off the field. She will major in Pre-Veterinarian studies and plans to get her degree and become a fully licensed Vet after ABAC.
Best of luck to Lizzie Haughwout at ABAC and in her future beyond college.
Dave sits down each Tuesday with the head coach of the Pickens Dragons, Chris Parker. Together they discuss the game from the week before and the upcoming game.
The Dragon football program held their 2018 Meet the Dragon event on Friday and excitement for the 2018 season filled the air. With Kindergarten through 12th grade participating, the afternoon started with the high school varsity scrimmage followed by junior varsity, ninth grade, eight grade and seventh grade. The Dragon youth teams also held scrimmages with the 6U and 7U, 8U and 9U, and finished up with the 10U scrimmaging the 11U.
Head varsity Coach and Athletic Director for Pickens County said the he was really excited to so many from the Pickens County area show up not only to support these athletes but also to support the Dragon program as a whole. Through out the evening, fans enjoyed jump houses and shaved ice from local vendors that support the dragons. Concessions were also available as well as raffle tickets for purchase with all proceeds going to assist the Dragons in purchasing both equipment for the players and other things needed to make a football program successful. At the end of the Meet the Dragon event, a silent auction took place to further support the Dragons. In the silent auction, last minute bids started with hopes of getting that special item and bring even more funds to the Dragons.
One of most exciting times in the evening was the 6U and 7U teams taking the field to scrimmage each other. If you have ever seen these age groups play you know that sometimes the helmets are bigger than the players but this did not stop these super young athletes from getting after it. These little guys did very well in making tackles and running the plays that their coaches have been showing them. The Dragon program looks really good for many years to come. It is obvious that some will move away and some will stop playing football to possibly move to other sports but either way someone will get good athletes in the future.
Over 400 players and cheerleaders participated in the event with at least twice that in attendance. The fans were very pleased with the execution of the event and look forward to next year’s Meet the Dragons for 2019. This season kicks of on Thursday August 9th as the Middle School welcomes the Indians of Lumpkin Co into Dragon Stadium for a scrimmage and the high school will hold their preseason scrimmage the following night as they take the field against Denmark High School out of Forsyth Co.
See all photos at Team FYN Sports on Facebook
Another busy month has passed for Pickens County with lots in store for the Summer. On May 22nd voters across the county went to the polls to vote on a variety of elections and ballot questions. The overall voter turnout of registered voters was 25.56 percent with a total of 5,101 votes cast. One local race (District One Commissioner) resulted in a runoff election that will take place on July 24th. Early voting for the runoff will be weekdays July 2-20 (excluding the July 4th holiday) at the Board of Elections. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce helped to orchestrate a successful partnership for the BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia) that passed through town in early June. This event brought an increase of customers shopping at local establishments.
During the month of May, the Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 110 animals, and 94 animals went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 29 cases. The Department of Planning and Development issued 43 new building permits. The Water Department installed six new meters. The 911 Operations Center received 1,865 total calls, 726 were medical responses and fire related. The Recreation Department pool is now open, and several camps are ongoing throughout the Summer. To keep up to date on PCRD activities follow them on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website: pickrec.com. The Road Department is preparing to begin tar and graveling several roads across the county. They are also continuing to perform routine road maintenance. Subcontractor crews through LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) and SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) funding are currently paving county-maintained roads within Hunters Ridge. After the crews resurface those roads, they will begin paving the remainder of the 62 roads set to be paved through LMIG. Pickens County government departments continue to stay busy working hard for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continues to do a great job of leading these efforts. As work progresses, and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments.
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
By: Tucker Green – Pickens County Board of Education Post Three
The 2018 Football season will look different to all who enter the gates of Dragon Stadium this year as a multi-million dollar renovation draws closer to completion. Upon entering the stadium, the eyes of the fans will be immediately drawn to the new artificial turf that has been been put down to replace the natural grass surface that has seen many years of tackles and touchdowns.
As the history of the old field remains in the hearts of Dragons before, a new era of history will begin on Friday May 18, 2018 as the Tigers of Dawson Co. will come in as the first opponent on the new turf and will end the 2018 Spring practice session for the Dragons. As exciting as it will be to see the Dragons take the field on Friday, it is just as exciting to know what actually goes into creating a masterpiece. The new turf is being completed by Deluxe Athletics. Their name might not be known but you will definitely recognize their work. Probably the most recognized on their resume is Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. As the home of the Falcons and Atlanta United, the turf is obviously durable and in Dragons Stadium it will see both football and soccer action for years to come.
The process of installing a surface such as this is fairly complex. After the turf is unloaded from the trucks, it is placed on the ground and rolled into position. Each roll is attached together by a rolling sewing machine and the meticulous job of putting the hash marks, numbers and logos begin. Every hash is individually cut out of the green turf and white strips are placed using a rolling machine that heats industrial strength hot glue to secure them. This process also occurs for the numbers, the logo in the center of the field and also for the end zone logos. Once this is complete the turf is swept with a street sweeper to prepare the surface for the sand and rubber pellets that lie deep within the grains of the artificial grass.
As the sand starts going in, it is monitored to remain at a specific depth and the packed with a commercial roller to ensure firmness and consistency of the playing surface. Following the sand, the crews bring out the rubber pellets to spread over the field. After completion of layer one of pellets, a second layer of sand and pellets are applied and then swept again. In the final process in completing the field a new technological product will be used. Cool Play is a highly advanced pellet that has a surface temp of 35 degrees cooler than traditional pellets used in artificial surfaces.
Also new to the stadium is a state of the art 32 feet high definition Jumbo Tron video board. This will allow player bios and game highlights to stream throughout the game while still functioning as a normal scoreboard. Track and Field for Pickens will benefit from the renovation as well with a new track surface being installed.
The first of many non athletic events that will take place on the new surface is scheduled for May 26, 2018 with the Graduating Class of 2018 receiving their diplomas and heading out in to the world.
PICKENS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE – 11/09/18
After discussing last night’s investigation with the Sheriff, we have determined
that the social media threat is not credible. However, in an abundance of caution,
there will be an increased security presence on the High School campus
tomorrow. We would like to thank the Sheriff and his staff for their vigilance in
addressing this matter.
Information will be posted on the Pickens County School District website at
www.pickenscountyschools.org, the Infinite Campus parent portal, district social media
sites, and sent to local media.
Martha Segers ǀ Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent ǀ Pickens County Board of Education
firstname.lastname@example.org ǀ (706) 253-1700, ext. 418
On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of last week the Dragons held their annual youth camps for football and cheer. Coach Chris Parker and his staff along with high school players took to the practice field to teach kindergarten through 7th grade athletes.
The camp attendees moved across 10 skill stations to learn both new skills and also to enhance those skills already in their repertoire. Several of the stations focused on safety of the skills learned. Proper technique of tackling and blocking is vital for the safety of both the offensive and defensive players. Other stations consisted of passing, receiving and different types of set ups and schemes to be used in games. A large amount of success in the camp goes to the high school players for their dedication and of course patience with over 180 energetic youth.
Part of the camp gets the young ladies out to work with the high school cheerleaders and their coaches to teach new cheers, work on and learn additional skills and techniques to prepare the new and current little Dragons to get the crowds fired up and cheer on the guys on the field. The cheer side of the camp brought out around 130 working their way through several stations that taught them toe touches, tumbling and and as stated previously new cheer routines. The high school cheerleaders also were vital in the camps success with their time being volunteered and their heart for these young ladies to have fun and learn at the same time.
With almost 400 youth showing their interest in Dragons youth football and cheer, the high school program should be set for years to come. As Athletic Director for all of Pickens County, Chris Parker has to be excited as they move forward over the next several years.
Last month the Pickens Board of Education approved the hiring of new boys basketball Coach Mike Duffie. Coach Duffie comes to the Dragons with 29 years as a head coach and a pedigree that speaks for itself. He is excited to be a Dragon and looks forward to hitting the hardwoods and getting the 2018-2019 season started.
Known as a “builder of programs”, Duffie has taken the opportunity at several High Schools to right the ship of some pretty dismal programs. With 33 years overall in coaching, he started his career at Model High School in Rome GA. as an assistant Varsity coach and head JV coach from 1985-1989. Duffie took his first head coaching job at Macon County High School in Montezuma, Ga in 1989 and his resume started to take shape. As the boys head coach he led the Bulldogs to Sub-Region Champions in ’90,’92, ’93 and in 1990 had a State Quarterfinal appearance. Duffie was named the 1-A Coach of the Year.
At the end of the 1993 season, Duffie took the reigns and ran as the Morristown East(TN) coach. Coming off a 2 win season, the task was tough for Coach Duffie but he jumped in head first to turn things around. The fruits of his labor started showing almost immediately in his second season. The next three seasons saw consecutive Region Tournament appearances and a school record 24-9 overall season. The Hurricanes had their 1st state ranking since 1979 coming in at 10th and several other first in the previous 18 years. Regular season Conference Champions, District Tournament Champions and Region Tournament Runners-up were all apart of these. Duffie was also the Head Coach for the Lady Hurricanes Softball program during his tenure at Morristown East High School.
Gordon Central realizing their need to kick-start a program that was barely existing brought Duffie to do as he does, build the program. Coming off a winless season, the Warriors were needing exactly what Duffie had to offer and he started in 1999. In 2002, 7-AAAA basketball new that Gordon Central was back as the Warriors made it to the GHSA State Tournament for the first time in school history and a 20-6(first in school history) record for the 2005 season. Coach Duffie also started the Lady Warriors softball program and had a 20 win season in four short years of a new program.
The most recent head coaching position for Duffie was Dalton High School and his resume continued to be impressive. Beginning in 2006 until his hiring at Pickens High School, Mike Duffie had the Catamounts of Dalton at the top of their game. In his 12 year stent at Dalton, he had multiple Region Runner-up finishes and a sweet 16 showing. In Coach Duffies’ last 6 years, he had five 19 win seasons and one 20 win season. Duffie also led the Lady Catamounts Golf team to a 2015 AAAAA Region Championship and the AAAAA State finals where they were runner-up. In 2016, the Lady Catamounts were Region 7-AAAAA Champions and went on to win the State Championship
Coach Duffie and everyone in the Dragon Nation looks forward to what the 2018-2019 season will hold as a new era begins. It is proven by past experiences that Coach Duffie is capable of bringing the Dragons basketball program to the forefront and fill the gym with fans.