We Are APS: Rio McFarland


B.E.S.T. Academy High School senior Rio McFarland has come a long way.

Looking back on his academic journey, Rio is thankful for growth. No longer hot-headed and easily angered, he can better control his temper. He is more intentional about school, and is now looking forward to attending college.

“In middle school, if someone said something that angered me, I would get enraged and start fighting,” said Rio, who sought help from a school psychiatrist and therapist. “As I got older, I realized that fighting was pointless and that I needed to control my anger.”

A self-described humble and quiet young man, Rio has been accepted to eight colleges and is on track to graduate with his diploma with a 3.0 GPA on May 21.

Thanks to his exposure and participation in the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) through the Morehouse School of Medicine, Rio plans to major in nursing – perhaps at Georgia Perimeter College – and become a surgical nurse. Last summer, he spent time dissecting animals and learning about the human body. While in the program, he and his HCOP group won first place for developing an app that tracks cardiovascular health, monitors heart rates and provides healthy food options.

As a scholar athlete at B.E.S.T., Rio qualified for state as a cross country runner and was selected to participate in the High School Olympics in Australia. He has also participated in the swimming team, which won fourth place in regionals.

For Rio, having great friends has made the biggest difference throughout high school.

“I now have friends who are better influences,” he said. “My friends have given me good advice and they help me keep a positive mindset. I can look up to them and they make sure I’m doing the right thing at all times.”

College/UniversityGeorgia Perimeter College
Intended MajorNursing
Career GoalSurgical Nurse
Awards/RecognitionAchieve Atlanta Scholarship; Qualified State Cross Country Runner; Selected to participate in High School Olympics in Australia; Swim team; Drama Club; Track; Cross Country; Beta Club; Chef’s academy certificate

Atlanta Public Schools will host high school commencement exercises Saturday, May 18 – Friday, May 24, 2019. All ceremonies — except Atlanta Classical Academy and Charles R. Drew Charter School — will be held at Georgia Institute of Technology, McCamish Pavilion,965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more information on commencement exercises, go to www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.

We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.

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