Best in class: Flat Rock Middle School bands excel

• All three bands at Flat Rock Middle School in Fayette County received straight superior ratings on a recent statewide evaluation. The Band Large Group Performance Evaluation, sponsored by the Georgia Music Education Association, evaluates bands on their musical performance and sight-reading abilities. A "superior" rating denotes a performance in the top percentile of ensembles. In the evaluation, students perform three prepared pieces for three judges who provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. Students are also required to perform a sight-reading of a piece they have not seen and are given only six minutes to study prior to the performance. The band performs that piece from beginning to end without stopping for a rating from a fourth judge. "It is truly a full assessment of the musical skills being taught every day in each band room," says Flat Rock Middle band director Matthew Price.

Alpharetta High School's spring musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone," will compete in the 2015 Shuler Hensley Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals. The production was nominated for four awards: best orchestra, best technical design, best supporting actor, Tate Rehklau; and best showstopper. Additionally, "The Drowsy Chaperone" received honorable mentions for musical production of the year, director, David Gay; best musical direction, Michelle Austin; and best actor, Conner Kocks. The award ceremony will be at the Cobb Energy Center April 22 at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on WSB-TV.

Riverwood International Charter School sent 14 students to the 2015 Georgia Thespian Conference (ThesCon): Megan Cohen, Isabel Dever, Brett Feldman, Abigail Gibson, Maria Jackson, Max Kantor, Gina Karseboom, Sadie llop, Emma McConnell, Madison McConnell, Lucy Mulkeen, Stephi Peifke, Tianna Seidel, and Madeleine Sibert participated in weekend of theater from the inside out. Students from all over the state converged in February in downtown Columbus for a full slate of workshops, performances, and college auditions. Sponsored by the Georgia Thespians, a chapter of the Education Theatre Association, ThesCon encourages, advocates and celebrates theater excellence in schools and communities.

Factory Shoals Elementary School in Lithia Springs was the overall winner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities' statewide competition. The department hosted an awards ceremony for winners of the 2014 Red Ribbon Week competition on March 30 at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry and Atlanta Dream star DeLisha Milton-Jones spoke to nearly 200 students, teachers and community activists about the importance of committing at an early age to avoid drug use. DBHDD staff presented awards to schools and organizations for their outstanding efforts to educate their communities about living drug-free and making healthy lifestyle choices.

The Westminster Schools' robotics team has qualified to make its eighth consecutive trip to the FIRST Championship, an international high school robotics competition, April 22-25 in St. Louis. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The Westminster robotics team received a bid to the tournament after winning the FIRST Alamo Regional Competition in San Antonio in mid-March. At that tournament, they also won the Judges' Award in recognition of their achievements, service throughout the community and support of the FIRST program.