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Graduation rates: Gwinnett County

Graduation rates: Gwinnett County

(WXIA) -- Georgia's 2014 high school graduation rates were released Thursday.

This year's statewide average is 72.5 percent, up slightly from last year's 71.5 percent. It's also the third consecutive increase in the percentage of seniors who graduate from the state's public high schools.

MORE | Ga. graduation rates up this year

Gwinnett County's 2014 graduation rate is 75 percent. At 99.4 percent, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Lawrenceville has the county's highest graduation rate.

Other graduation rates in Gwinnett County include:

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Atlanta-area unemployment drops to 7.3 percent

Atlanta-area unemployment drops to 7.3 percent

(WXIA) -- Metro Atlanta's unemployment rate fell seven-tenths of a point in September.

Last month's rate was 7.3 percent, well below August's 8.0 percent. The unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in September 2013.

Gwinnett County's unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in September.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said there were nearly 20,000 fewer unemployed people in Atlanta last month, and companies reported fewer layoffs. Industries that added jobs in September include government; education and health services; construction; and trade and transportation.

Metro Athens had Georgia's lowest unemployment rate in September, at 5.7 percent. The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest, at 9.5 percent.

Pepper-spraying shoplifting suspect arrested


DULUTH, Ga. -- A shoplifting suspect who's also accused of pepper-spraying a Walmart employee has been arrested in Florida.

Kahala Johnson is being held in the Jacksonville County Detention Center. She was taken into custody Oct. 15 at her mother's house in Jacksonville.

Police said they believe Johnson is the woman who pepper-sprayed an associate at a Duluth Walmart on Oct. 8. The associate was trying to stop Johnson from walking out of the store with a cartload of electronics and household goods without paying for them.

Duluth Police Det. Bobby Johnson said the victim was informed of Johnson's arrest and is very grateful the suspect no longer poses a danger to anyone.

Weekend roadwork: The I-285 debacle continues

Weekend roadwork: The I-285 debacle continues

(WXIA) -- It's going to be another messy weekend on metro Atlanta's highways.

The Georgia Department of Transportation encourages drivers to stay off Interstates 20 and 285 if they can.

As always, all work is weather permitting.

Scheduled construction projects include:

Bartow County
* 1 northbound lane of I-75 will be closed between two miles north of Glade Road and one mile south of Allatoona Road from 9 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday for bridge maintenance.
* 1 northbound lane of I-75 will be closed between two miles north of Glade Road and one mile south of Allatoona Road from 7 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday for bridge maintenance.

Cobb County
* 1 lane of the I-75 southbound exit ramp to I-285 west will be closed from 9 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday for work on the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes project.

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AP exam participation: Gwinnett County

AP exam participation: Gwinnett County

(WXIA) -- More Georgia high school students are taking -- and passing -- Advanced Placement exams.

Last school year, 89,806 Georgia students took 154,176 AP exams. That's an 8 percent increase in the number of participants and almost a 9 percent increase in the number of tests.

AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Passing scores of 3, 4 or 5 often allow the test-takers to earn college credit.

Georgia's seniors earned 86,075 passing scores on their AP exams in 2014, a 9.6 percent increase over 2013.

English Language and Composition was the state's most popular AP exam, followed by U.S. History and World History.

In Gwinnett County, 13,913 students took 26,361 AP exams in 2014, and 14,809 of those exams earned passing scores.

Here are the AP exam breakdowns for each Gwinnett County public high school:

Archer HS
814 students took 1,498 exams
716 passing scores

Shoplifter pepper-sprayed store employee

Shoplifter pepper-sprayed store employee

DULUTH, Ga -- Police are calling it a shoplifting, but it could easily be called an assault. A female shoplifter was armed with pepper spray and wasn't afraid to use it when a store associate approached her.

It was a very bold crime because it happened at about 6:00 a.m. on October 8, when hardly anyone was in the Walmart on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth.

Duluth Police released surveillance video from the store that showed the woman walk into the Walmart with the pepper spray already in her right hand, as if she knew she was going to be confronted.

"It's our belief that she knew that loss prevention would make contact with her if in fact she was shoplifting, and they did," said Det. Bobby Johnson. "And she came prepared."

Weekend roadwork: Lots of projects on the schedule

Weekend roadwork: Lots of projects on the schedule

(WXIA) -- A major project on a heavily traveled interchange is bound to cause some headaches for Atlanta-area drivers this weekend.

It's just one of several scheduled construction sessions throughout the area. All work is weather permitting.

Crews will be hard at work on the Kennedy Interchange in Cobb County much of the weekend. The Kennedy Interchange is where Interstate 75 meets Interstate 285 in the Cumberland area.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said sign installation will require multiple lane closures on the Outer Loop of I-285 just before the exit ramp to Cobb Parkway and I-75 north. Two right lanes will close at 9 a.m. Saturday; that will expand to three lanes between 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday. Outer Loop traffic will also be paced in the area beginning at around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Other weekend road projects include: