UPDATES: Check out the photo gallery here. Watch speech by Carver Early College’s Paul Harris, Jr., and Douglass’ Edward Furman Mosley, III, here. Watch speech by Carver Early College teacher Matt Westmoreland here.
Atlanta Public Schools‘ valedictorians, salutatorians and “STAR” students were honored Wednesday morning with a breakfast hosted by Georgia Power and featuring Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall.
“This celebration is one of my favorite events – for two very good reasons. First, it kicks off graduation season in Atlanta Public Schools. And second, this event represents the school district’s collective opportunity to publicly and proudly acknowledge the work of our valedictorians, salutatorians, STAR students, and STAR teachers,” Dr. Hall told the gathering.”
Dr. Hall went on to acknowledge sponsor Georgia Power, APS Associate Superintendent of High Schools Randolph Bynum, and the school principals, staff members, teachers and counselors. Dr. Hall also singled out the STAR teachers and students, the latter of whom scored the highest on their college entrance exams. The STAR student then selects the teacher who they believe made the difference in their education.
“STAR teachers were chosen for their significant contribution to students’ scholastic development,” Dr. Hall said. “Through their talent and passion, these teachers have left an indelible mark on their students’ lives – and for that, again, we thank them.”
In honoring the students, Dr. Hall recalled a special moment in 2008 when she was delivering one of her “fireside chats,” in front of a crowd of 400. Before she rose to deliver her address, Dr. Hall watched as a student approached the podium to introduce her to the audience. With all of the confidence and poise of a seasoned speaker, the student made a bold statement.
Back then only a ninth-grader, the student laid out her personal and professional goals with precision: graduate from high school on time as valedictorian, attend Syracuse University or Spelman College, become a college professor, and get married and have exactly one child. That student was Zicuria Ussery, who was in attendance as the valedictorian of Maynard H. Jackson High.
“She’s on her way to fulfilling her dreams and changing the world just as she said,” Dr. Hall noted. “And lucky for the world, she’s not the only one.”
APS graduates aren’t just going to such impressive institutions as the University of Georgia, Spelman College or Emory, Dr. Hall continued, but also M.I.T., Duke and other top-tier institutions such as the “Little Ivies.” Two-thirds of the graduates – 26 of 39 – enrolled in APS as fourth-graders in 2002-03.
“Our students are going where they belong – because their paths have been paved with high expectations, hard work, a supportive environment, and a solid education,” Dr. Hall said. “I’m so very proud of each of them.”
Valedictorians: *Paul Harris, Jr., Carver Early College; Christeina Wade, Carver School of the Arts; Elisha Pittman, Carver School of Health Sciences & Research; *Fatima Rojas, Carver School of Technology; Vivian Stepp, Douglass High; * Benjamin Gittelson, Grady High; Zicuria Ussery, Maynard H. Jackson High; Jaye George, Mays High; Gueorgul Terziev, North Atlanta High; Bryant Eubanks, South Atlanta School of Computer Animation & Design; Raven Tukes, South Atlanta School of Law & Social Justice; Tanesha McDowell, South Atlanta School of Health Sciences & Research; Neasha Mitchell, Therrell School of Health Sciences & Research; Courtney Skipper, Therrell School of Law, Government & Public Policy; Ricky Lipsey, Jr., Therrell School of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science; Iniki Franklin, Washington Senior Academy.
Salutatorians: Teralyn Griffin, Carver Early College; Aliysa Shareef, Carver School of the Arts; Julia Davis, Carver School of Health Sciences & Research; Francisco Pacheco, Carver School of Technology; Edward Mosley, III, Douglass High; *Samuel Weinstock, Grady High; Malcolm Jackson, Maynard H. Jackson High; Deysi Gallo-Blanco, Mays High; *Grace Shea, North Atlanta High; Ashley Goolsby, South Atlanta School of Computer Animation & Design; Diamond Parks, South Atlanta School of Health & Medical Sciences; Teanna Glass, South Atlanta School of Law & Social Justice; Crystal Jessie, Therrell School of Health Sciences & Research; *Tanzia Heath, Therrell School of Law, Government & Public Policy; LeAnna Robinson, Therrell School of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science; Shaquitta Bell, Washington High.
(NOTE: Asterisk denotes STAR student as well.)
STAR students (not previously mentioned): Brian Jones, Carver School of Health Sciences & Research; Geoving Gerard, II, Douglass High; Autumn Woods, Maynard H. Jackson High; Chukwuemeka Onyilo, Mays High; Maria Ortega, Therrell School of Health Sciences & Research; Courtland Hicks, Therrell School of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science; Tony Crosby, Jr., Washington High Senior Academy.
STAR teachers: Holly Trudgeon, Carver Early College; Nicole Franklin, Carver School of Health Sciences & Research; Andre Regan, Carver School of Technology; Stephanie Jones, Douglass High; Andrew Nichols, Grady High; Lydia Williams, Maynard H. Jackson High; Aruna Kailasa, Mays High; Natalie Brandhorst, North Atlanta; Sara Talluri, Therrell School of Law, Government & Public Policy; Rholine Rose, Therrell School of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science; Keene Walker, Therrell School of Health Sciences & Research; Ramone Cox, Washington High.