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Norcross High School wins national orchestra title

The Norcross High School Philharmonic Orchestra returned from a prestigious music convention with a first-place trophy, recognized as one of the county's best high school orchestras.

The orchestra was one of 20 selected to compete at the annual American String Teachers Association National Orchestra Festival. It received the only "superior" ratings in its division. The school defeated string and full orchestras from 14 different states to win the top award in the High School String Orchestra competition.

Thirty-one Norcross students traveled to the convention in Kansas City, Mo., to perform and compete. They played pieces by Mozart, Bach, Villa Lobos and Reinecke. Award-winning music instructors Catherine Hudnall

and Allison Bates directed the orchestra.

The Blue Devil Orchestra program also sent 12 students last month to the High School All-State Orchestra event. For that event, they had to go through two rigorous auditions and many months of preparation to be selected.

Notre Dame Academy

to host reading sleepover

Nineteen local fifth-graders will spend a whole night locked in at their school reading - and they couldn't be more excited.

Notre Dame Academy, a small Catholic school in Duluth, will be hosting an overnight reading party for enthusiastic students. Teacher Julie Derucki got the idea when students kept asking to skip recess so she could finish reading stories to the class. She hopes to make it an annual tradition.

"I told the students that they could come back to school with a book on a Friday night, with plans to sleep on a hard classroom floor and listen to their teacher read aloud," Derucki said. "After I announced that idea, every student had a permission slip in the very next day."

The event will begin in their classroom at 7 p.m. Derucki will kick off the night by tearing the gift-wrap off a surprise book and reading it out loud. Then students will read some of their own stories and possibly sleep. In the morning, they will enjoy a breakfast prepared by the "Notre Dads."

North Gwinnett readers

vie for state title

Students at North Gwinnett High School are among the best readers not just in the county, but in the state. Last weekend, they beat out 10 other high school teams in the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl in Carrollton.

The teams got a list of 20 books, 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction, based on the Georgia Peach Teen Book Award nominees. Team members had to divide up the books among them, paying attention to the details. The quiz bowl competition tested their speed and knowledge of facts from the selected books.

North Gwinnett earned the title of being the top reading team in the northern half of Georgia. The team will face off against Jones County High School, the winner of the Southern Bowl, in the state competition on April 22 in Athens.

The team from Collins Hill High School earned third place in the northern regional competition. This was the first year Gwinnett County held its own Reading Rally, which sent top teams to the Reading Bowl.

Elementary School to be

transformed into art museum

For one night, J.G. Dyer Elementary School will be transformed into an art museum. The school will have its Fine Arts Night on Monday, featuring performances by all of its students.

The festivities will begin at 6:15 p.m. with performances by the kindergarten class and different classes performing every 15 minutes. They will be singing, dancing and playing instruments. Individual students will also be sharing their special talents in the art show hall.

Parents and students will be able to walk down the red carpet to enjoy the art museum, featuring the work of 18 famous artists, as reproduced by Dyer students. The area around the artwork will be roped off for protection. Kid security guards wearing hats, badges, and walkie-talkies will also guard the artwork.

There will be both paintings and sculptures in the museum. Community members are invited to stop by the school to enjoy student performances and art pieces.

Calendar

Parenting expert Bob Lancer will be at a local bookstore honoring exemplary teachers and signing books. The WSB radio show host and author of "Parenting Solutions" will also answer questions from parents and educators. Most regularly priced items will be 25 percent off for educators with ID cards. The event is free and open to the public. It will begin at 6 p.m. at the Borders bookstore at 1929 Scenic Highway in Snellville.

This weekend, Brookwood High School students will be performing "While the Lights Were Out," a murder mystery farce by Jack Sharkey. It is a hilarious play about a dead man, a detective and the blonde who may be a murderer. Tickets are $6 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens. The show will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Rubina Madan is the education reporter for the Gwinnett Daily Post. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Post.