Community cares about Clarkston Cluster schools

Often called the most diverse square mile in America and the Ellis Island of the South, Clarkston for years has been known for the ethnic variety of its population. 

Despite the city’s diversity, everyone sticks together, according to city liaisons. That togetherness was on full display at the Clarkston Cluster Schools Back to School Rally Sept. 6 at Lakes of Indian Creek Apartments in Clarkston. 

The focus of the event was to bridge the gap between parents, students and school, increase student attendance and promote literacy and school pride, according to organizers. 

Clarkston Cluster officials held a back-to-school rally Sept. 6 at Lakes of Indian Creek Apartments in Clarkston.

Volunteers at the back to school rally served guests free food and handed out school supplies for students. Students and parents also had the opportunity to meet teachers and administrators outside of a school setting. Student groups also performed at the event.

The Clarkston Cluster consists of Clarkston High School, Freedom Middle School, Allgood Elementary School, Dunaire Elementary School, Jolly Elementary School and Indian Creek Elementary School.

“The Clarkston Cluster Back to School Rally is an example of our commitment to form relationships with our community,” said Freedom Middle School Principal Marchell Boston. “We want to extend ourselves to form that relationship and partnership and we look forward to ongoing relationships with parents and our community.”

There are currently 5,318 students in the Clarkston Cluster, according to Boston. Eighty-five percent of Clarkston Cluster schools have a climate rating of 3 STARS or higher. Schools are given a rating 1 to 5 starts with five stars being an excellent school climate rating. 

Adam NyKamp, instructional support specialist at Indian Creek Elementary School, talks to students during a back to school rally.

Boston, who helped organize the event, said he couldn’t have done it without community partnership. 

“We have a great team with great leadership,” Boston said. “We have a great group of principals and staff who represent this Clarkston Cluster. It’s probably the most diverse in the state of Georgia. With that diversity we’re still able to make strides academically, athletically and socially.”
Clarkston Cluster Schools have earned state and regional recognitions and titles in sports and extra curricular activities including cross country, soccer, robotics, culinary arts, chorus, and Future Business Leaders of America, according to Boston. 

Freedom Middle School Principal Marchell Boston, students and volunteers prepare for the Clarkston Cluster Back-to-School Rally at Lakes of Indian Creek Apartments in Clarkston Sept. 6.

Clarkston Community liaison Bennett Ekandem said he was happy to see the event come together. Ekandem said, at times, the Clarkston community can get overlooked. 

“I’ve been here since 2001 working with refugees. I love my community. A lot of people make fun of my people, but this is the best place to be,” Ekandem said. “A lot of people offer this community lip service and then they’re a no show. I told [Marchell Boston] if you want to do this event, then show me and he did.”Ekandem said he’s proud of the people who live in Clarkston and the strides toward success they make. 

In the last four years, four Clarkston Cluster schools have been removed from the state’s list of underperforming schools. Indian Creek Elementary also received the Platinum Award from The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.  

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