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Current News Blog

Judy Norris, Upper School Instructor

Students in Statistics were able to eat their class supplies last week. We are studying sampling in statistics. One major idea in statistics involves using a simple random sample to measure a statistic that can reflect the population parameter. The company that produces M&M’s™ publishes that 16% of the candies are green. The students were testing this parameter by doing sampling.  They were also examining whether or not the size of the sample changed the variability of the sample statistic. Guess what, our sampling supports the company’s parameter of 16%!

Upper Students below from left to right:  Daniel Garguilo, Catie Claire Coyle, Ethan Stroup, Ryan Rafuse, and Jacob Baum.

Janet Ford, Director of Fine Arts

Joaquin Campos, a new student in Communication Arts, is doing a great job in Brenda Smith’s Art 1 class. He is patient, persistent, kind and flexible. Here he is showing off his Block Print project to his mother, Shizue, during Mini Day last Friday! We are excited to see what else he creates this semester in the studio.

John Hanrahan, Wrestling Coach

The start of the new Wrestling season is less than a month away (we begin October 14th). Whether you are a new to the sport or experienced, as long as you are highly motivated and interested in learning the skills to compete in the “oldest sport” please join us. Snacks will be provided by our team-mom Janine Tarrant.

Also on this occasion we will be adding portraits of two members of last year’s successful squad to our “Wall of State Medalists”. Graduates Daniel Tarrant (U10) and Michael Healey, MSA 2019 will be added to our banner depicting MSA State-Medalist. Who will be next to join the wall? It requires hard work and dedication. It is our goal to mentor each individual to acquire appropriate team comradery skills and leadership skills.

There are 14 weight classes in varsity wrestling ranging from 106-285.

If interested come to our Wrestling Info Meeting Friday, September 27 from 1:15 - 1:45 pm  in the Wrestling/Conditioning building. Any student in 8th - 12th grades are eligible. 

Susan Sanders, PreUpper Principal

Any food left over from Mini Day was donated to our local fire departments. Karen took some Chick-fil-A sandwiches to the Forsyth County Fire Department and Michael Griffeth treated our firefighters at the station on New Providence Road.

Needless to say, the firefighters love MSA!!

Josh Hersko, Swimming Coach

Greetings Mustangs,

We will be having an interest meeting on Wednesday, September 25 at 2:45pm in Coach Josh’s room (PreUpper 2nd on left) for any students in Grades 6 and up who would like to join this year’s Mustangs Swim Team.  We are planning for an exciting season, and would like to welcome any student who would like to compete for another AAC Championship!  You can expect to learn all four strokes, dives, turns and have a ton of fun making new friends in the process!  Beginners are welcome.

We look forward to seeing you Wednesday of next week! GO MUSTANGS!!!

-Coach Josh and Coach MG

Margaret Brito, Director of Outreach
Student on laptop

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Middle School Great Room Joyce Derr, a certified Speech and Language Pathologist and Debbie Brineman, a certified Occupational instructor, who each have more than 30 years of experience, will share their extensive knowledge of the latest tools, apps, and devices to support learners.

Many of the local dyslexia associations will be in attendance. Two MSA alumni, Paul Jarvis (MSA 2013) and Allison Ashlock (MSA 2011) will speak about how assistive technology has helped them as high school students, college graduates and in their adult lives. Please register to reserve your seat. We look forward to sharing this with you.

Sylvia Cutchin, Middle School Instructor

In Middle School, 5th Grade Math students are learning to use Base 10 Blocks and Area Models to visualize multi-digit multiplication. Area Models are one of the best visual tools you can use to conceptually grasp how to multiply multi-digit numbers. Students apply the previously learned skills of basic multiplication facts and multiplying by powers of 10. When using an area model, students are actively engaged and mathematically thinking without having to rely on a calculator. Pictured are Ethan Cohn (M5) and Brady Mashburn (M5) using Base 10 Blocks to model multi-digit multiplication.

Emily Koehl, Director of Marketing and Communications
Dyslexia Dash Logo

Join Mill Springs Academy students, teachers, families, and friends for the 2019 Dyslexia Dash Saturday, October 19. We are a sponsor so when you join our team, you’ll receive $5 off registration prices!

When registering at https://runsignup.com/Race/GA/Atlanta/DyslexiaDash

1. Click on "SignUp" to start the registration process. 

2. When you reach "Choose Your Event," select 5K Run/Walk or Untimed Fun Runner or Kids Dash. 

3. Once you choose an event, you will see the option on the right that says "Group or Team." 

4. When selected, a pop-up box will ask you to "Join" or "Create a New Group or Team." (NOTE: Not an option for Kids Dash) 

5. From the "Select Group or Team Type" box, your employees, teachers, and parents can select "Sponsor Team" and look for Mill Springs Academy. 

Shilpee Kathuria, Milk. Newsmagazine Advisor and Upper School Instructor

In class, Milk. journalists spend time note-taking and discussing issues confronting journalism today; thus far, that includes the First Amendment, restoring faith in oft-maligned journalists as well social media’s palpable influence on Citizen Journalism and the case of the truth. In addition, we review both the guidelines for the ASPA (American Scholastic Press Association) and UGA’s GSPA (Georgia Scholastic Press Association) to ensure that we can compete with schools from all around the country as well as in Georgia. We are assembling our first competition-ready issue slated to release by the end of the month. Look for our new students and new staff to be featured, along for our cutting-edge coverage of issues effecting us locally, nationally and globally.

Editor-in-Chief Daniel Garguilo says, “I’m proud to be a part of Milk. Even though competition was tougher last year than I thought, we are going to do better this year.”

News Editor Mat Campbell states, “Newspaper is fun! It also helps me do research and makes me think outside the box.”

Pictured L-R: Daniel Garguilo, Mat Campbell, Caroline Skinner, Zach Hale, and Matt Cohen.

Brenda Smith, Visual Arts Teacher

The Technology and Art Departments have joined efforts to improve the learning opportunities for our art students this year. Students can now take the Graphic Media Design class in both the Fall and Spring semesters using professional design level Adobe Creative Cloud programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator!  A new animation class will be offered in the spring will also be using other professional Adobe products. We have also added a new ipad to the art room available to all our art students for research, photography and art making capabilities. We are thrilled to be able to use these resources to take our students art and design skills to the next level.

Graphic Design Students shown in this Photo:  Luke Micham (U12), Richard Hall (U11), Michael Slifer (U12), & Scotty Owen (U10). 

Cheri Harwood

All - last week we indicated that everyone should check in including parents. Well while that is true, it should have stated that you should check in/out in the Admin building if you are on campus to do some business and will be staying more than the few moments it takes to check your child out from your school. We don't want to make this difficult for you, we just want to be safe. If you are checking your child out early or late, please still just go to your school's office and do that there. You do not need to check into Admin and then drive down to the Upper School to check your child in or out. Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your patience while we work out the security kinks. 

Branigan Hughes, Lower School Instructor

Lower School students in social studies class have been learning about Georgia’s first people. They’ve learned about the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Students got to learn about how these American Indian tribes lived their life. They studied their clothing, shelter, food, towns, and what they did for fun. Students also learned about the impact settlers had on the lives of the Creek and Cherokee. They briefly learned about the Trail of Tears and the Indian Territory. Some Georgia heroes we studied were Mary Musgrove, James Oglethorpe, and Chief Tomochichi. Students made a few crafts during this unit as you can see in the photo. They made tipis, vests, and headdresses. We also listened to Native American songs and learned a stomp dance. We had so much fun learning about Georgia’s first people. 

Cheri Harwood

We have communicated some changes to the school calendar and wanted to gather them in one place for you. Please ensure that you mark these adjustments in your school calendar:

The following changes effect ALL Schools:

  • January 21 - NO CLASSES - Teacher Professional Development day
  • March 17 - NO CLASSES - Teacher Professional Development day

The following changes effect PU/CA/U only:

  • Dec 5 - is no longer an Exam Review Day
  • Dec 6 - is no longer an Exam Review Day
  • Dec 11 - is an Exam Review Day and Electives/World Languages Exam (periods 1, 2, 3) - regular dismissal
  • Dec 12 - is an Exam Review Day and Electives/World Languages Exam (periods 4, 5, 6) - regular dismissal
  • Dec 13 - is now MATH Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • Dec 16 - is now LANGUAGE ARTS Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • Dec 17 - is now SCIENCE Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • Dec 18 - is now HISTORY Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • Jan 6 - 10 is Winter Learning Program (this was shortened to one week)
  • Jan 13 - Spring Semester begins
  • May 14 - is an Exam Review Day and Electives/World Languages Exam (periods 4, 5, 6) - regular dismissal
  • May 15 - is an Exam Review Day and Electives/World Languages Exam (periods 1, 2, 3) - regular dismissal
  • May 18 - is now HISTORY Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • May 19 - is now SCIENCE Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • May 20 - is now LANGUAGE ARTS Exam - 10:30 dismissal
  • May 21 - is now MATH Exam - 10:30 dismissal
Margaret Brito, Director of Outreach
Georgia ETA logo

MSA Parents are invited to join us for our first Parent University (Parent U) Monday, September 23, at 8:30 am in the Middle School Community Room (room 201). Brenda Fitzgerald, EdS, CDP, will be delving into Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), including the three subtypes, symptoms, treatment, medication, and management. Please RSVP online for this free parent event by Friday, September 20. We look forward to seeing you there!

Margaret Brito, Director of Outreach
Student on laptop

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Middle School Great Room Joyce Derr, a certified Speech and Language Pathologist and Debbie Brineman, a certified Occupational instructor, who each have more than 30 years of experience, will share their extensive knowledge of the latest tools, apps, and devices to support learners.

Many of the local dyslexia associations will be in attendance. Two MSA alumni, Paul Jarvis (MSA 2013) and Allison Ashlock (MSA 2011) will speak about how assistive technology has helped them as high school students, college graduates and in their adult lives. Please register to reserve your seat. We look forward to sharing this with you.

Ginny Berkemeier, Communication Arts Instructor

This week in the CommArts Geometry class, students worked with a geoboard to learn about translations. By using geoboards, students can visualize and manipulate complex geometric concepts. Tenth grader, Colby Johnson, enthused “I like the geoboards. It was helpful to make learning different ways of graphing and types of graph fun.” We are excited to keep working on further concepts in translation such as rotation, dilation and reflection. By using manipulates, students can have fun with geometry. Picture 1: Elliott Dougherty CA10, working on transformation using a geoboard. Picture 2: Colby Johnson CA10, working on transformation and graphing both on a geoboard and graph paper.

Jodi Easter-Smith, Lower School Instructor

Fourth Grade students are learning about organisms, from the simplest to the most complex. We are currently focusing on the largest class of animals, the Insecta group. This week the students were given a mealworm to observe over the next few weeks. They will watch it go through a complete metamorphosis. The students figured out quickly that the mealworm is not actually a worm because they saw six legs. Stay tuned to see what these creatures transform into! (Jacob Lalla is observing and answering questions about his mealworm )

Sam Henslee, U11
Students doing a science experiment in anatomy class

This year at MSA, I am in Vaidehi Rallapalli’s Anatomy/Physiology and we have been doing so many interesting labs in this class. The first lab we did, involved using pH paper and testing different kinds of liquids. We used common, easy to obtain liquids at first but we moved to scientific chemicals. It was interesting theorizing what color the paper would be and what the pH number would come out as. After we did this test and put the data down on paper, we did a test on our saliva and saw, what the pH would come out to be. It was weird to see that some people had different pH levels than others. We made theories on why this was the case, we thought that it might be because of them chewing gum a few minutes earlier or what they ate that morning. The class had so much fun with this lab and could not wait for the next one.

Another day we had a torso dummy that showed the organs and sections of the human body. These parts could be taken out, so our class made a game out of it. Whoever could put the pieces back together the fastest won. It was really fun but it also taught us about the human body. We also learned about the planes of the body and what organs and systems are within them.

Later in the semester, we learned about DNA and the parts and systems of it. We then worked on a project where we would make a 3D model and present it to the class. We all made different kinds of models but all gave information on DNA and how it works. We than transitioned into learning about cells and the organelles. For our group project, we are going to be hatching chickens, which is super exciting. We are just in the planning phase but things are looking really good. We hope to start using the incubator in the next few weeks and get the chickens hatched a month after that.

So far this year in Anatomy/Physiology has been pretty good, and I am really excited for what will happen next.

Pictured: Is Sam Henslee looking on as Ella Jensen and Richard Hall conduct an experiment.

Katie Aiello, Middle School Science Teacher

For our first field Trip, the Middle School students went to the Elachee Nature Science Center, located at Lake Lanier, to learn about the Lake and its watershed. To aid in this endeavor, the students boarded the Chota Princess II and road out to a remote area of the lake. While on the Chota Princess II, the students participated in several activities. The first activity included testing the pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity of the lake water.  For the second activity, the students collected samples of plankton and viewed them under a microscope. Back on shore, the students learned about the amount of water on Earth, how much of this water is fresh or drinking water, the Chattahoochee River watershed, and why Lake Lanier was formed. The students also worked in groups to simulate the steps in a water treatment plant. Picture 1: AJ Christian observing some plankton from a lake water sample.  Picture 2: Caleb Donaldson and Ethan Cohn are helping one of the instructors with a visual representation showing the amount of water in the world (a 1 gallon container) to the amount of available fresh water in the world ( a couple of drops in a  teaspoon).

Bryan Sellers, PreUpper Instructor

Seventh graders in Life Science class have begun their series on the Fungi Kingdom. We discovered, both in the classroom and on the nature trails of Mill Springs Academy, the unique characteristics that set the 1.5 million species of fungi apart from all other organisms. Students also have better idea of how fungi feed and why they were kicked out of the plant kingdom. Pictured L-R: Joey Lenox, Ward Sutlive, Rachel Ingram, Ben Gault, Fullerton Dale, and Sydney Johnson.

Kate McElliott, Music Director/Drama Instructor

Three new International Thespian Society (ITS) thespians and eight new Tri-M Honor Society musicians were inducted into MSA’s chapters of these elite organizations this week! Students were inducted during a short formal ceremony in the presence of parents and fine arts staff for both of these organizations during lunch on Thursday, September 12.

The ITS is an organization that strives to make education and arts programs places for good theater and to honor those students who do theater well. The Society is a service as well as an honorary organization. Students earned their places in this troupe by the hours they have put into theater, mostly at MSA, but also within our community. Please congratulate Lilliana Coco, Liam Couch, and Connor Doyle for joining ITS Troupe 8170. Please also congratulate Jill Coco and Judy Shurling (parents of students and alumni) for their honorary inductions, for their many, many hours spent volunteering in the MSA Theatre Department.

The National Association for Music Education’s Tri-M Music Honor Society is an organization that selects students based on their musicianship, academic qualification, and demonstrated leadership. Tri-M aims to promote wider opportunities for sharing joy through music and advancing the spirit of good music and knowledge. Please congratulate Chris Carey, Lilliana Coco, Calista Craig, Connor Doyle, Luke McCoin, Jeffery Naszcyniec, Bella Rousseaux, and Leo Winn for being inducted into Chapter 7201 of the Tri-M Society of MSA.

Congratulations to all!

Most of the Tri-M students with their advisors are pictured.

Cheri Harwood

As we make an effort to keep our campus safe for everyone, it would be a great help if ALL visitors (yes, parents too) would check in at the front desk of the Administration Office to get a VISITOR tag when you are on campus. We know it may be inconvenient, but we thank YOU for helping us keep your students safe!

Karen Kaiser, PreUpper Georgia History Instructor

In PreUpper's Georgia History class, the students played Trashket Ball for the first time this year! This is a review game that students play to prepare for upcoming tests. Next week, the eighth graders have their first test of the semester. The material covered on the test will include important facts about Georgia, the Physiographic Regions present in the state, and fundamental concepts for interpreting sources used by historians. Pictured are Rayna Doniparthi, Shaylee Gandhi, and Kayden Stanley working together to come up with the answers to the review questions.

Cheri Harwood
One Word logo

If you could use only ONE word to describe Mill Springs Academy, what ONE word would you use, and why?

Email me your ONE word, AND then tell me WHY that ONE word.

You have until Thursday, September 12 at noon. 

Maria Gonzalez, Upper School Spanish Instructor

Upper School's Spanish II students are learning the use of the verb “IR” to express actions that will be done in an immediate future. In order to reinforce this concept and to practice the vocabulary, they played a game using a pre-cut series of pictures, conjugations of the verb “IR”, subject pronouns and other words needed to have a correct structure of different sentences. The class was divided into two teams, and after fifteen minutes, the team with more correct sentences won. It was an exercise created not just to review the material learned, but to encourage collaboration within the students. It was fun to see them helping each other and making the corrections needed to win an extra point on the next quiz. Pictured are Josiah Altland U10, Grayson Cloy U9, and Patrick Murphy U10 working on their sentences.

Cheri Harwood

Join your fellow MSA parents for coffee on Monday, September 9! Just drop your kids off at school and come on over to the Starbucks (at the intersection of Crabapple and Houze Roads - 12330 Crabapple Road, Alpharetta) right after.

This is a great opportunity to meet other parents, discuss your successes and struggles, and share advice and ideas. We look forward to seeing you there! All are welcome. This event is sponsored by your Parent Volunteer Association (PVA).

Kevin Findell, Middle School Instructor

The 5th and 6th grade Middle School English Language Arts students have been doing independent reading as homework and in their free time for the last couple of weeks which will lead up to a book report project that they began working on this week. All classes were able to go to the library and choose a book that they were interested in. We will be creating book jackets and giving information about the book. The information includes the title, author, main and secondary character description, setting, theme, and plot summary. The purpose of the assignment is both to understand the topic information given and to give enough information about a book to help others determine if they may have an interest in reading it. Pictured is Drew Thacher M6 working on his book cover project.

Sheila FitzGerald, Director of Enrollment
Mill Springs Welcomes You


Wednesday, September 11

9:00 - 11:00am

Many of you have attended an Open House on campus and you know it is a great opportunity for someone to get a good feel for what Mill Springs is all about. But if you haven't attended an Open House, it provides prospective families with an overview of the school, a wonderful Fine Arts presentation, at least one parent and one student perspective, a tour of the school, and an opportunity to speak with the principal. If you know someone that might benefit from attending MSA, PLEASE invite them to an Open House or better yet bring them! Word of mouth is by far the biggest way families find their way to Mill Springs. We know that you sometimes have the chance to be "Mill Springs on the Street" and we truly thank you for sharing MSA!


Cheri Harwood

This past Friday Josh Hersko (PreUpper instructor and MSA Swim Coach) was inducted into his High School Hall of Fame in recognition for his years as a member of the varsity swim team. Josh is the first male swimmer to be added into the Pope High School Hall of Fame. "It was a really great honor!" Josh adds, "Back in High School we won the State Championship in 1999, and then you may know I went on to swim for Georgia Tech." Josh was the record holder in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle and he also earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference Honors in 2002. This is such a wonderful tribute to Josh and we are so proud to be able to share this information with everyone! Congratulations Josh! 

Coaches Karen Kaiser and Lisa Imsand

Please congratulate your Lady Mustangs Volleyball team on their first home win of the season!!  We played Brandon Hall, which is a GISA school, and ranked higher than the AAC conference.  The team did an amazing job of working together and staying strong to beat Brandon Hall in the 5th game of the match.  We really appreciate all the students and faculty that came by to support the team.  We are looking forward to having more fans in the stands for our second home game.  The Lady Mustangs play at home again on Monday, September 16th, against the Howard School.  This will be one of the biggest matches we will play during the regular season so we will need lots of fans cheering us on in the crowd. Come on out and join in the fun!


Cheri Harwood

Your student's school pictures are ready for viewing. Please look them over. All you have to do is just click the appropriate link below to view and purchase your pictures:

Password for ALL the galleries is MSA202 (it is case sensitive).


Retake day scheduled for Thursday, September 12, starting @ 8:30 am in the Upper School Great Room. If you desire a retake, please let your principal know.


Marios O'Connell - Photographer




Kaylee Simmons, Lower School Instructor

Last Friday, Lower School parents attended the first Lil' Mustangs Mini Day to learn about the curriculum in Lower School. Students, parents, and teachers enjoyed breakfast from Bagel Boys together before heading to the classrooms to learn about each class. In the past, we have had a Curriculum Night after school, so this was the first time that students were able to attend a curriculum event with their parents and have the opportunity to share their input about their classes with their parents. We appreciate all of our parents for taking time out of their morning to visit Lower School and find out more about what their children will be learning this year. Pictured are 4th graders Charlie Latzak and Allie Detsch with their moms at Lil' Mustangs Mini Day.

Michael Griffeth, PreUpper Instructor

You may recall we had an article about the PreUpper students working on a project titled, "I am from..." Well you are able to see several of those posts at this time (not to mention the other items from previous classes that are posted as well). Just click on the link above and read away. New posts will be available every few weeks, the next installment will be all about the hiaku! Stay tuned and ENJOY!

Jamie Fambrough, Fine Arts Instructor
Boys reading script

This week rehearsals got underway for this year’s one-act play, !Artistic Inspiration. The play pits two hack playwrights against each other in a bid to write the worst play ever. Other actors play out the scenes as they write, making for a hectic and hilarious storm of horrible clichés and tropes. The cast got together to read the script and start discussing the plans for realizing the play on stage in October. MSA will present the play at the GISA Regional One-Act Play Festival, competing against the other schools in our division. We have always had a strong showing at One Act, and this year is shaping up to be the same. Congratulations to the cast, and break legs!  Pictured Henry Wallace, Liam Couch, Zack Peppers

Margaret Brito, Director of Outreach

Mill Springs Academy is hosting a parent speaker event on ADHD, Monday, September 23, 2019, at 8:30 am in the Middle School Community Room (room 201). This is the first in a series of parent education workshops we will be offering this school year. More information to come next week.