Category: youth

National Study Confirms Horizons Savannah’s Long-Term Approach to Student Success

National Study Confirms Horizons Savannah’s Long-Term Approach to Student Success

(SAVANNAH, GA) A recent national study confirms that students who participate in Horizonsprograms have better school attendance, higher academic outcomes, fewer disciplinary referrals and fewer grade retentions.

Horizons Savannah

The new study, conducted by Concentric Research & Evaluation (CRE) and funded by The New York Life Foundation and the Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts, validates that Horizonsprograms that focus on long-term engagement with children from low-income families produce strong academic outcomes.

“We know the impact this program has on Savannah’s youth. We see it each summer, as we watch our kids progress year after year,” said Christy Edwards, executive director of Horizons Savannah. “To have a national study confirm that this program makes tangible differences in the lives of our program’s children is awe inspiring. Over the long term, Horizonsis having a positive impact in our city and I praise the vision and leadership of our host schools, board of directors and donors that have always believed in our mission.”

When compared to their peers, students who have participated in the Horizonsprogram for at least four summers had the following in common:

Higher attendance rates and lower rates of chronic absenteeism
Higher scores on standardized assessments of elementary math and science
Higher GPAs in 9th grade, a critical transition year
More course credit earned in 9th and 10th grades
Fewer times repeating a grade
Fewer disciplinary referrals
Most research on summer learning has found that students from low-income families fall behind their wealthier peers over the course of the summer, either because they are losing knowledge and skills or gaining them at a slower pace.

“These summer learning student outcomes reflect Horizons’ long-standing commitment to quality data collection and offer a significant contribution to the growing body of evidence on the long-term effects of summer learning,” said Matthew Boulay, founder and CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. “Horizons’ exemplary standards in programming not only inspire a joy of learning during the critical summer months but, most importantly, set students up to thrive in the school year ahead.”

The study looked at fifteen Horizonsprogram sites in seven states, and, because it focused on long-term participants in the program, included only sites in operation for at least four years. Horizons Savannahhas been in operation since 2002. Each Horizonsstudent in the study was paired with a student who did not participate in Horizonsbut attended the same school or a school with similar demographics and achievement scores. Researchers used a variety of characteristics to match students, including gender, race and ethnicity.

Recognized as one of America’s best summer learning programs, Horizons Savannahat Savannah Country Day School, Savannah Christian Preparatory School, Bethesda Academy and St. Andrew’s School welcomes over 250 low-income students each summer to a six-week summer enrichment program that helps prevent “summer slide”: the loss-of-learning that occurs during the summer. By providing a safe and nurturing environment, recreational and cultural activities, nutritious meals and snacks, caring professional teachers and creative, challenging instruction, we unlock a student’s potential to achieve. During the program, students gain an average of two months’ growth in reading and three months’ growth in math. For more information, please contact Horizons SavannahExecutive Director Christy Edwards at 912-961-8854 or You can also visit our website at, check out our Facebook page at

HorizonsNational is a growing, community-centered network of more than 50 affiliate sites nationwide that provides high-quality academic enrichment programs to children in need, from Pre-K through high school. Located on the campuses of independent schools, charter schools, colleges, and universities, Horizonsprograms offer a project-based curriculum, focused on reading, STEM, the arts, fitness, nutrition, and field trips.

Christy Edwards, Executive Director

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Poole
Cecilia Russo Marketing


Local Rotary Calls for Volunteers for Second Annual Savannah Rotary Read-In

Local Rotary Calls for Volunteers for Second Annual Savannah Rotary Read-In

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Rotary Club of Savannahis searching for volunteers to serve as community readers for the second annual Savannah Rotary Read-Inon Wednesday, March 13, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Last year’s inaugural event drew 526 volunteer readers who read to students in 566 classrooms. This year, Savannah-Chatham public schools plans to add pre-kindergarten to the list, which means Rotarians and volunteers will read to students in 600 pre-k through third-grade classrooms in 32 schools.

“We hope to promote literacy with nearly 15,000 local students at this event,” said Lowell Kronowitz, president of the Rotary Club of Savannah. “Our goal is to have around 600 volunteers join our Rotarians in giving back by reading for one hour on this special day to spark young imaginations and encourage the desire to read more.”

A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation indicates children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school.

Debra Larson, president & CEO of Hospice Savannah, and retired trucking company owner Frank Moore, Jr., who serves as a substitute teacher in the school system, are co-chairing the event. Moore introduced the idea when he moved to Savannah from California where his club there had run the program for 26 years.

“We are looking for volunteers to help just one day for one hour with just one book. The impact for the students is tremendous,” said Moore.

The club also is seeking 32 volunteers to serve as liaisons to handle communication with the schools’ personnel, confirm classrooms and identify books for the read-in.

E Shavers Booksellers is offering a discount to anyone who buys a children’s book to read during the event.

To register to read at the Savannah Rotary Read-In, please sign up here by March 7:

The Rotary Club of Savannahincludes 225 community leaders and volunteers. Over the past 103 years, the club has championed local and regional developments that include completing the road to Tybee Island, improving the Savannah River for commercial traffic, enhancing the Dixie Highway system in southeast Georgia and building bridges over the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers. Most recently in recognition of the 100th anniversary, the club raised funds and constructed an all-accessible playground in Forsyth Park. Meetings are held each Monday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the DeSoto Hotel, 15 E. Liberty Street. For more information, visit

Frank Moore, Jr.

The Greatest Legacy of President George H.W. Bush

The Greatest Legacy of President George H.W. Bush
By Kayla Johnson

Over the past several days, Americans have paused to remember our 41st U.S. president, George H.W. Bush.

Kayla Johnson, Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

Following his death on November 30, the news was filled with reminders of his dedication as a public servant. As vice president and president, he helped guide our country out of the cold war. During World War II, he was an aviator in the Pacific theater and survived being shot down by Japanese gunners.

Plus, all of us have seen the many photos portraying his humanity as a devoted husband, father and grandfather to a large and loving family.

While I honor and remember him for all of these things, it was the union of the two great loves of his life – service to his country and love of family – that became his greatest legacy. That occurred when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990. He had supported the monumental legislation as it made its way through Congress and is credited with ensuring its eventual passage.

Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation designed to prohibit discrimination and guarantee that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life. It opened doors to employment opportunities, requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

This legislation changed everything, not just for those with disabilities, but for all of us.

When President Bush signed the ADA into law on that third week after Independence Day nearly 30 years ago, he did so with a great sense of enthusiasm and ceremony. While I’m sure he was confident it would be an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities, I also believe his passion was genuine as he shared these words at the bill’s signing:

“I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

President Bush went on to champion, and then sign the IDEA Act in October 1990, which provides children with disabilities the same opportunities for education as those students who do not have a disability. His actions directly influenced the passage of the ABLE Act in 2014, which created tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities; and H.R. 188, also known as the TIME Act, which was introduced in 2015. This legislation proposes phasing out a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act which allows “sub-minimum wage” compensation for work by people with different abilities.

While our work is ongoing, the lawful beginnings are notably attributed to President George H. W. Bush and for him, we are thankful.

Certainly, the ADA declared new opportunities for the differently-abled to be independent, but could we have imagined how it would benefit everyone? From that day forward, the word “inclusion” would become part of our vocabulary, our building codes, our hiring practices and our general thoughts.

The often unspoken rift that had long kept those with disabilities from sharing spaces, workplaces and experiences that everyone else takes for granted was dissolving. It would not be an immediate transition or an easy one for some, but little by little the ADA changed our culture and our mindsets. People who had been considered invisible or hindered by convention and physical obstacles were now recognized as the productive, enthusiastic, capable individuals that they are and were finally given the full rights of citizenship afforded to every other American.

As executive director of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, I see the fruits of the ADA each day in the eyes and on the faces of those whose lives have been changed for the better because of President George H.W. Bush’s act love.

With the deepest appreciation now and always,

Kayla Johnson
Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society
10701 Abercorn St., #60786
Savannah, GA 31420

Santa’s Workshop for Lowcountry Kids Held for the Second Year at Peacock Auto Mall

Santa’s Workshop for Lowcountry Kids Held for the Second Year at Peacock Auto Mall

(JASPER COUNTY, SC) Peacock Automotive held the second annual “Santa’s Workshop” Christmas Event.

“Centered around our family-first values, this Santa’s Workshop has become an annual event for the Peacock Automotive family,” said Warner Peacock, president and CEO of Peacock Automotive. “We look forward to bringing Christmas cheer to families in the Lowcountry, and we always receive more joy than we give.”

Peacock Automotive held the second annual “Santa’s Workshop” Christmas EventPeacock Automotive held the second annual “Santa’s Workshop” Christmas EventPeacock Automotive held the second annual “Santa’s Workshop” Christmas EventPeacock Automotive held the second annual “Santa’s Workshop” Christmas Event

Families enjoyed gingerbread cookie decorating and Christmas caroling with local musician David Ross, as well as a hot chocolate bar and hot dogs. Santa Claus was available for photos. The event was free and open to the public.

Also, there was a toy collection drive for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry, which operates six clubs in Beaufort and Jasper Counties with more than 2,200 members ages six to 18 years. Wish-list items included children’s books, coloring books, toy trucks, building blocks, multicultural dolls, musical toys, play dough sets, large-piece puzzles, pull toys, sports equipment, board games and art supplies, including glue sticks, markers, scissors and stickers.

For more information, please visit or Peacock Auto Mall’s Facebook page at

For more than 32 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry have enabled young people as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, seven clubs serve 9,814 young people annually. Clubs are located in Bluffton, Hilton Head, Northern Beaufort County and Jasper County. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles. In a national Harris survey of Boys & Girls Club alumni, 54 percent said the club saved their lives. Learn more at and

Peacock Automotiveowns and operates 20 automotive dealerships representing 14 brands in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, employing more than 700 individuals. The company’s headquarters are located at Peacock Auto Mall on U.S. 278, five miles east of I-95 at Exit 8 near Bluffton, S.C. The dealerships at the Auto Mall include Peacock Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat, Peacock Subaru, Porsche of Hilton Head, Audi Hilton Head, Peacock Hyundai Hilton Head, Genesis of Hilton Head, Hilton Head Volkswagen and Peacock Used Cars & Trucks. Additionally, the company owns Peacock Hyundai Brunswick, Genesis of Brunswick and Peacock Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Brunswick in Brunswick, Ga., and Peacock Hyundai Savannah, Genesis of Savannah and Savannah Volkswagen in Savannah, Ga. Other holdings include Jaguar Columbia, Land Rover Columbia, Peacock Hyundai Columbia and Hyundai Genesis of Columbia. Its subsidiary, Peacock-Griffey Automotive, owns Peacock Ford in the Orlando area of Florida. Peacock Automotive also owns and operates the Peacock Collision Center and the Wellness Institute in Bluffton, S.C., and Peacock Insurance in Savannah. Peacock Automotive was awarded Business of the Year in 2017 from the Greater Bluffton, South Carolina, Chamber of Commerce. For more information about Peacock Automotive, call (843) 208-1258 or visit

Jill Jauch
Peacock Automotive
265 Drivers Way
Hardeeville, SC 29927
Office: (843)-208-1217

Bethesda Academy President Receives Georgia GOAL Advocacy Award

Bethesda Academy President Receives Georgia GOAL Advocacy Award

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Georgia GOAL Scholarship Programrecently presented Michael Hughes, president of Bethesda Academyin Savannah, with the GOALAdvocacy Award.

The award acknowledges individuals who have displayed passion and perseverance when appealing to legislators to preserve, protect and expand the program’s scholarship opportunities.

Bethesda Academy President Michael Hughes Holds GOAL Award

Bethesda Academy President Dr. Michael Hughes Holds GOAL Award

“Dr. Hughes is a true believer in providing educational choice for families, as his day job can attest to that fact,” said Lisa Kelly, president and executive director of the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program. “He is head of a school whose mission is all about lifting up young men who are capable of achieving greater heights.”

The Georgia GOAL Scholarship Programmakes it possible for Georgia taxpayers to redirect a portion of their tax liability each year to receive an equal tax credit on their Georgia tax return. GOALawards provide partial scholarships to students in 137 participating private schools throughout the state.

“Dr. Hughes happens to be in a district whose state lawmakers were essential to our effort to raise the cap,” Kelly said. “His specific and very timely outreach on multiple critical occasions was spot-on and essential to the overall effort. All these efforts were almost immediate, and very passionate, each and every time we made the suggestion.”

In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 217 into law, thereby increasing the annual cap on the Georgia Education Expense Credit Program from $58 million to $100 million for the next decade. The signing of HB 217 marked the largest expansion of this program since its inception in 2008.

“The Georgia GOAL Scholarship Programis an incredible opportunity for Georgia taxpayers to help students to attend Bethesda Academywho might otherwise not be able to attend without any cost to the taxpayer,” said Hughes. “Additionally, the increase in the cap on Education Expense Credits will provide a greater opportunity for Savannah area parents to choose Bethesda for their children.”

Since 2008, GOALhas awarded 34,482 scholarships worth $128.2 million to 14,340 students, with an additional $28.6 million being obligated and reserved for the funding of multi-year scholarships that have been awarded or for the awarding of future scholarships. The average value of the scholarship awarded to each student has been $3,718, with the balance of tuition costs being paid by scholarship families together with other financial aid provided by the participating private schools.

To learn more about the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, please visit

Founded in 1740, Bethesda Academyis the oldest child-care institution in the United States. Now it is a private boarding and day school for young men in grades six through twelve and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 650-acre campus features a variety of athletic teams, a wildlife management and organic farming program and college preparatory curriculum. Through its “Lead The Way” initiative, students have access to exclusive integrated learning and leadership opportunities. For more information, visit www.bethesdaacademy.orgor call 912.644.4376.

Cynthia Cradduck
Junior Partner
Cecilia Russo Marketing

Savannah Maritime After Hours Donate $2,000 to Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire

Sponsors of Savannah Maritime After Hours Donate $2,000 to Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire

(SAVANNAH, GA) For the fifth consecutive year, Savannah Maritime After Hourspresented a holiday donation to the Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire. This year, the donation was increased by $500, for a total of $2,000, which will be used to support the growing needs of the House and their residents.

Maritime After Hours Donates to Ronald McDonald House

(Left to Right) Larry Hearn (Savannah River Logistics), Ryan Faulk (Savannah River Logistics), Jed Young (Port City Logistics) and Ben Goldberg (JIT Warehousing and Logistics) present $2,000 from the Savannah Maritime After Hours group to Bill Sorochak (far left), Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire.

Maritime community leaders, Ben Goldberg of JIT Warehousing and Logistics, Larry Hearn and Ryan Faulk of Savannah River Logistics, and Jed Young of Port City Logisticspresented the check to Bill Sorochak, executive director of the Ronald Mcdonald House of the Coastal Empire.

Each year, members of the Savannah Maritime After Hoursare able to raise these funds through networking events held on the first Wednesday of each month.

“A small donation during the holidays can make a big difference for these families during such a stressful time,” said Ryan Faulk, Partner of Savannah River Logistics. “We believe families are stronger together and a sick child heals faster when they are surrounded by love and support. And we are extremely grateful to all of our members who make this annual donation possible.”

For more information on this donation or on how to get your organization added to the recipient list, contact Billy Robinson at

One of 365 Ronald McDonald Housesworldwide, each House is an independent non-profit, 501©3 community organization. The Savannah House is governed by a 16-member board of directors and managed by a full-time staff of four. The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities© of the Coastal Empireis to create, find and support programs that directly enhance the health and well-being of children and families. The House has thirteen bedrooms and operates on a waiting list most of the year. The Savannah Ronald McDonald Houseprovides a “home away from home” for critically ill and injured children and their families who are receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital at Memorial, Candler Hospital, or where needed in the Coastal Empire. Since the House first opened its doors 30 years ago in 1987, over 10,200 families have been served. The house currently serves approximately 290 families each year. Although the average length of stay runs 16 days, some families stay much longer.

Billy Robinson
CEO, Port City Logistics, Inc.

Cecilia Russo
Cecilia Russo Marketing, LLC

Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire Recognizes Cecilia Russo Turner with Community Impact Awards

Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire Recognizes Cecilia Russo Turner with Community Impact Awards

(SAVANNAH, GA) Cecilia Russo Turner of Cecilia Russo Marketing has been recognized as a recipient of the 2018 Community Impact Award by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire.

Cecilia Russo Turner Receives Award from Ronald McDonald House

Cecilia Russo Turner Receives Award from Ronald McDonald House

The community impact awards program began in 2014 to recognize long-time contributors, businesses and volunteers for outstanding achievement in serving local Ronald McDonald House children and families.

Turner, who has served as a board member for seven years, has supported the Ronald McDonald House through marketing and fundraising support of various events, including the Chef of the House Challenge, Wine and Fries, The Red Shoe Run and Wine, Women and Shoes.

“It is a great honor to assist the families and staff at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Turner. “I’m so pleased that several of my family members and close friends are also involved with the organization, often serving at special events and seeing first-hand the impact that the house makes in our community.”

Bill Sorochak, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, praised Turner for her efforts as a volunteer.

“Volunteers are the heartbeat of our House, and Cecilia has been invaluable in providing comfort for the families who find refuge and support here while their children receive medical treatment at our nearby hospitals,” Sorochak said. “Because of outstanding volunteers, we can keep our focus on helping children heal faster, cope better and stay healthy.”

The Ronald McDonald House helps families of seriously ill, hospitalized children cope with the stress and expense of daily living while trying to be close and emotionally strong for their children.

This marks the second time Turner has received the award. For more information, visit

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire is a registered 501©3, non-profit that operates solely on donations. The cornerstone program is the Savannah Ronald McDonald House that provides more than 4,170 family night stays each year with a “Home away from home.” Other core programs include the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital and Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Medical Center and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a mobile dental clinic providing free dental cleanings and examinations, care to under served, school-aged children in Beaufort County, S.C.

Cecilia Russo Marketing, LLC was founded by Cecilia Russo Turner in 2008. The firm puts the power of publicity to work, helping organizations, businesses and individuals move the needle and achieve their specific communications objectives through key reputation management strategies. For more information, call 912.665.0005 or visit

Bill Sorochak
Executive Director
Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) of the Coastal Empire
t. (912) 350-7641 ext. 304
f. (912) 350-2309
c. (864) 906-8496 
4710 Waters Avenue
Savannah, Georgia, 31404

Cecilia Russo Turner
Cecilia Russo Marketing, LLC