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Back to school: Free and reduced-price lunch guidelines

Back to school: Free and reduced-price lunch guidelines

(WXIA) -- Thousands of Georgia students return to the classroom this week, and many of them meet the requirements for free and reduced-price meals during the school day.

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"It is important to provide our students with healthy, nutritious meals to help improve their chances of success and increase their learning opportunities," Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Director Nancy Rice said in a statement. "Research indicates that eating habits affect learning. We want to ensure all our children are well nourished and ready to learn."

Families that qualify for free and reduced-price lunch will get applications from their children's schools.

Students can receive the meals if:

Back to school surprise: Weekend roadwork canceled

Back to school surprise: Weekend roadwork canceled

(WXIA) -- This weekend will be a holiday for Georgia families in more ways than one.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has suspended construction-related lane closures on all major interstates and highways within five miles of malls and shopping districts.

This will allow parents and students to enjoy the tax-free shopping weekend without the added stress of road delays.

"The sales tax holiday is an opportunity for Georgians to save a little money during these challenging economic times," GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden said. "The department is glad to offer some relief from lane closures as families prepare for school."

11Alive Ways to Save reporter Valerie Hoff has some of the best tax-free weekend deals. Find out how to get the most bang for your buck.

Fulton County youth receive school supplies as costs rise

Fulton County youth receive school supplies as costs rise

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Shopping for back to school supplies can present challenges for parents trying to make ends meet and the outlook is not improving. Huntingdon Bank’s Annual Backpack Index reports double digit increases in school supply costs.

As Fulton County, Atlanta and other metro Atlanta schools prepare to open for the fall, Fulton County Commission Chairman John H. Eaves, the Fulton County Office of Children and Youth and Fulton County Health and Wellness sponsored a back to school event on Tuesday, July 29 to help parents to obtain needed school supplies.

The event at Atlanta Technical College featured school supply giveaways and free haircuts along with information and education. The event attracted 500 participants with 224 children receiving haircuts and 300 taking home school supplies.

Thousands enroll in Ga. Pre-K Program

Thousands enroll in Ga. Pre-K Program

(WXIA) -- More than 80,000 Georgia children are enrolled in the state's Pre-K Program for the 2014-15 school year.

Pre-K is open to all 4 year olds, regardless of household income. Assistant commissioner Susan Adams said that it is the first school experience for many children.

"For this reason, we take our roles very seriously, and we work really hard to provide Georgia's children with positive and meaningful experiences," Adams said in a release.

In Pre-K, students study language, literacy and math while making new friends and building foundations for lifelong learning. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning recommends parents visit their children's classrooms in advance to familiarize them with their new surroundings, and dress them in comfortable clothes and shoes every day. If students have a tendency to feel lonely, parents can send them to school with family photos to cheer them up, and blankets or stuffed animals to snuggle at naptime.

LIST | Georgia's 20 best high schools

LIST | Georgia's 20 best high schools

(WXIA) -- U.S. News and World Report has unveiled its list of the 20 best high schools in Georgia, and almost all of them are in metro Atlanta.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology leads the pack. The Lawrenceville charter school is the No. 1 high school is Georgia and No. 3 in the country, with 100 percent of its students passing their Advanced Placement exams, and all students proficient in math and English.

The school has a 17:1 student-teacher ratio, which is average for Georgia. About 75 percent of its 696 students are minorities.

These schools round out Georgia's Top 20:

2. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School (Augusta)
Ranked No. 73 nationally

* 100% of students take AP exams; 76% earn passing scores
* 100% of students proficient in math
* 100% of students proficient in English
* 17:1 student-teacher ratio
* 55% minority enrollment

Ga. libraries launch college savings sweepstakes

Ga. libraries launch college savings sweepstakes

(WXIA) -- Public libraries across Georgia will participate in this year's Summer Reading Program and college savings sweepstakes.

The initiative, which is hosted by Georgia's Path2College 529 Plan, will award one grand prize and four regional scholarships to five lucky participants. The winners will be chosen at random from five groups.

The grand prize is a college scholarship worth $5,529 and a $1,529 grant for the winner's library. The runners-up will each get $1,529 to put toward a Path2College 529 Plan and $529 for their libraries.

Georgia parents, grandparents and legal guardians can sign up their children at path2college529.com. Entry closes on Aug. 10.

The program provides students with activities throughout the summer and encourages them to read by giving them prizes for finishing books, ebooks, audiobooks and magazines.

Participating library groups include:

Ga. Connections Academy graduates Class of 2014

Ga. Connections Academy graduates Class of 2014

(WXIA) -- Georgia Connections Academy recently held a graduation ceremony for its Class of 2014.

Many classmates met for the very first time during the event at the Gwinnett Center.

"We are very proud of our graduates," GCA lead principal Heather Robinson said in a release. Altogether, the Class of 2014 secured $1.33 million in college scholarship offers.

Emily McClure of Columbus is GCA's valedictorian. She will attend Georgia College and State University on the Zell Miller Scholarship in the fall.

Learn more about Georgia Connections Academy, the state's free virtual charter school for students in grades K-12, at georgiaconnectionsacademy.com.

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