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CHS band grows under Carr's leadership
  • Arts
Cali Jones

A band director who is passionate about music education in schools has helped the band program at Carrollton High School thrive since he became part of the Trojan community more than six years ago. 

The Carrollton High School Trojan Marching Band had a successful competition season in the fall. At the final competition, the band received straight superiors in all captions, 1st place for Drum Major in Open Class and Gold Division as well as 2nd place in Band/Guard/Percussion in both Open Class and Gold Division.

Under the direction of Chris Carr, who was named director in 2014, the Trojan Marching Band is approaching participation numbers not seen in almost two decades, hovering around the 200-member mark. Program quality continues to reign, with the band upholding its long-standing tradition of capturing superior ratings, winning grand championships and consistently finishing in the top three at all competitions. 

Carr said he is pleased with the program’s growth and hopes to continue expanding in the years to come.

“Despite the pandemic, we have lost very few members and still have almost 200,” Carr said. “Mr. Trumble has more than 150 students participating in his bands at the upper elementary school. We are looking forward to a bright future as we continue to expand.”

David Trumble is the band director at Carrollton Upper Elementary and says he thinks the biggest change is the program’s approach to getting younger students interested in band.

“We no longer beg the fourth graders to come join the band once they get into fifth grade,” he said. “Every fourth grader in the school comes to me for a nine week rotation. On day one, I welcome them to their nine week audition to see who has what it takes to earn an invitation into the Trojan Band. It helps the students to realize from the beginning what an honor it is to be a part of this award winning band program. This one change in our approach has helped us to more than double our numbers in the band program at CUES in only two years.”

After leaving the upper elementary school, students move into the junior high band where they have Maria Menendez as their director.

“We have really worked on building relationships with the students,” said Menendez. “What is special about our program is that from grades 5-12 the kids have a relationship with four teachers who care about them and invest in them the entire time. They have mentors and people who are fighting for their success in all that they do. As the CJHS director, I start to really put into work the basic skills that Mr. Trumble has taught them and begin to show them all of the great things that they can do.”

Carrollton City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus noted that he is pleased with the band program’s success.

“The current leadership has done a great job growing our band program,” he said. “Each of these instructors go above and beyond for our students and I am proud of what they have and will continue to accomplish.”

The high school program has also grown in curricular offerings through a comprehensive music program consisting of the marching band, three concert bands, two jazz bands, a percussion ensemble and many chamber music ensembles.  

Carr said some notable achievements of the band program include earning superior ratings at concert and jazz band festivals, a growth in student participation in district and state honor band and the wind ensemble receiving invitations to perform at competitive concert events.

“I am just so honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to help carry on the legacy of this great program,” said Carr. “The standard of excellence here is unmatched and it’s something special to be part of.”

Herndon named STAR Student, selects Rader as STAR Teacher
Cali Jones

Carrollton High School senior Andrew Herndon’s academic success led CHS Principal Ian Lyle to name him the school’s 2022 STAR Student, and what has become a recent tradition at the high school, surprised his STAR Teacher selection with a quick visit to her classroom Tuesday to make the announcement. Andrew chose CHS math teacher Dr. Laura Rader. 



Andrew Herndon was chosen as Carrollton High School’s 2022 STAR Student. He chose Dr. Laura Rader as his STAR Teacher. The pair pose after receiving their certificates Jan. 25 with CHS Principal Ian Lyle. 

Rader taught Andrew advanced placement calculus and this year is teaching him International Baccalaureate math. Why did Andrew pick Rader?


“Dr. Rader has been one of the most motivating and engaging teachers that I have had in high school,” he said. “ She helped me work through complex subjects in a way I really understood. In my mind, there really isn't anyone else who I could choose.”


This is the fourth time in five years Rader has been chosen as STAR teacher, first by Josh McLaughlin in 2017, Eva Hobson in 2019 and Collin Jones in 2021.


“I am so honored,” said Rader. “It’s so special to be chosen especially since the STAR Student makes the choice.”


The STAR student award is presented to the graduating senior who posts the highest SAT score of his or her cohort and is in the top 10 percent of the class. In October, Andrew was named a National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist, joining an elite group of less than 1 percent of high school seniors nationwide.


Beyond his core academic classes, Andrew has invested his time in quality electives and extracurricular pursuits. Andrew is an engaged member of the Speech and Debate team, where he currently serves as president. He is also varsity captain of both the Academic Bowl and Jimmy Carter History Bowl and a member of the National Honor Society and student council. He is the son of James and Lisa Herndon.


The pair now will compete at the region level with hopes of advancing to the state competition this spring. The STAR Student/Teacher program is sponsored locally by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators thereafter.

Carrollton High School launches literary magazine after long hiatus
Julianne Foster

CHS English/language arts teacher Hunter Spurlock poses with his editing staff holding the first issue of The Golden Spiral at the literary magazine’s launch party. From left are Jon Van Valen, Charlie Brinkhof, Spurlock, Addison Lloyd, Alison Sellers and Avery Sellers. Not pictured: Caro Dudley.

'Golden Spiral' collaborative effort to showcase creative talent

Looking for a way to further engage the creativity of budding writers, Carrollton High School English/language arts teacher Hunter Spurlock, sponsor of the CHS Creative Writing Club, decided formalizing their work through the publication of a school literary magazine would be an ideal way to encourage students and to boost confidence. 

The inaugural issue of The Golden Spiral was revealed at the end of the first semester with a launch party in the school's media center. Spurlock said each issue will feature themed content; in this case, "Once Upon A Time ..." The second issue is planned for publication in May.

"The idea started when I took over the creative writing club at the end of last year," said Spurlock, who inherited the duty with the retirement of another teacher. "I thought the students would be more engaged if they had more structure and something to write for."

Spurlock said he discussed the idea of the magazine with teacher peers and administration and that it was a collaborative effort with the CHS art department, with student artists providing works to enhance the publication.

"Everyone thought it was a great idea, but I was still wondering how we would get students excited about submitting," admits Spurlock. "I decided to come up with monthly challenges, where we would review the entries and pick a winner to receive a gift card and a certificate. We received more entries than I ever anticipated and the idea of a magazine to showcase some of the awesome stories became more of a reality."

Spurlock said the name came from a team brainstorming process.

"I had a tough time coming up with a name and so I asked members of the creative writing club for help. They came through with some awesome suggestions. I then took those suggestions and sat down with the editing team and we all decided that The Golden Spiral had a nice ring to it and nice symbolism with this almost being like a spiral notebook filled with their stories."

In addition to providing a vehicle to distribute their work, Spurlock says using the tool is a way to provide constructive feedback through a less intimidating process to help students grow and improve as creative artists.

"What surprised me most is just how willing the students were to share their work," he said. "I was sure that we had talented writers and artists at the school, but I had no idea how students and staff would get behind the project. Jake Richardson (CHS art teacher) was instrumental in helping me get students to submit amazing art and they were all so willing to share their work with me and also shape their work around the stories. It was very cool to come into contact with students I had not met before and just get to see them through the lens of how truly talented they are.”

Through the development of the club, Spurlock said six students emerged as editors: Alison and Avery Sellers, co-chief editors; Charlie Brinkhof, managing editor/art editor; and Caro Dudley, Jon Van Valen, and Addison Loyd, editors at large.

"I felt very strongly that this should be student-led," said Spurlock. "When we received a submission, I would share it with the editors. They would make comments, corrections, and suggestions.” He said once a month he and the students would get together to discuss submissions to determine final inclusion. 

The 40-page first issue features a variety of short stories and poetry, including one short story written in Spanish. Most works are accompanied by student artwork. The issue also pays tribute to an early CHS literary magazine, "The Howler," with an image of the May 1925 edition.

"Writing is most powerful when it emerges from a place of authenticity," said Marsha Hook, English/language arts department head. "The reboot of the CHS literary magazine is a powerful space for students to express their ideas, hone their individual voices, and publish their work so that it reaches an audience beyond their own peers, teachers, and family members."

Hook said the effort also helps students grow as members of a creative team in that the board of editors works closely with peer authors in providing critical feedback and reaching the goal of producing a polished piece of creative writing.

"Ultimately, the literary magazine is an important space for continuing to grow the culture of writing and creativity that is already so vibrant here at CHS, while also empowering young creators to see their stories, words, and images as worthy of reaching larger audiences," said Hook. 

CHS Principal Ian Lyle says the Golden Spiral is another example of the intentional efforts of the CHS faculty to engage students beyond their academic classes.

"Our student body is made up of a diverse population with different interests and passions," said Lyle. "Offering another outlet to plug them not only promotes their own growth as young adults, but enhances our entire school culture."

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