The holidays have arrived! But they come upon us this year with mixed emotions – joy with sorrow, togetherness amid isolation, and hope with tinges of concern.
The holidays will be tough for the Herring family this year. As many in the Atlanta Public Schools community may know, my father – the Rev. Wallace B. Herring, Sr. – passed in the days before the break. The loss of this compassionate man with unwavering faith has brought unbearable sadness upon my family and our friends.
This man with his love, kindness, and grace greatly informed the person I would become. That’s why, amid my grief, I hold onto so many blessings about my father. One of the most recent memories that stand out was when he gave the invocation when I officially became superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools this July. I embrace and cherish that moment and remain ever thankful to have that memory and thousands more.
In these moments, I sometimes feel alone in my heartache and grief. Messages of comfort and condolences from across the Atlanta Public Schools community have meant so much. It helped remind me that I’m hardly the only one feeling sorrow, isolation, and concern. Amid pandemic and protest, so many of us have lost loved ones and friends, experienced injury and harm, and felt alone and forgotten.
This community also reminded me of the many blessings we share. Our talented, dedicated teachers and staff. Our committed community members. Our devoted parents. And, most of all, our beautiful young scholars.
As your superintendent, our students are always our greatest gifts and most wonderful blessings. In fact, they are the ones who have shared one of my newest blessings and joys of the season: the Superintendent Winter Card Contest.
Each year, talented artists across Atlanta Public Schools show that our young scholars are not only inventive, resourceful, and creative, they are also resilient and adaptive, willing to work and create this year amid the limitations of the virtual space.
This contest was open to all elementary, middle, and high school students. We asked them to submit a design that reflected winter in the school district, Atlanta, the holidays, or any other creative idea of their choosing. All ideas were welcomed, and our students’ responses were overwhelming. These designs became part of my official winter greeting cards.
We received more than 300 submissions from every cluster in APS, so it took a while for my team and I to come up with the finalists.
Before I recognize them, I want to thank all of the students who participated in this year’s contest. I also want to thank Dr. Sara Womack, our Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator, Bill Goodman, our Director of Multimedia and Brand Design, and Charlotte Napper, our Graphic Designer, for spearheading this annual contest with me and for their guidance throughout the selection process.
And of course, I must acknowledge and thank the hundreds of art teachers in APS who are cultivating and inspiring our young talent each and every day.
And now without further delay, let me present to you the finalists of the Superintendent’s 2020 Winter Card Contest:
- Allison Carter – North Atlanta HS (Teacher: Allison Shepard)
- Annie Kim – North Atlanta HS (Teacher: Allison Shepard)
- Jessica Frazier – Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (Teacher: Randle Ervwin)
- Julia Promoff – Sutton Middle (Teacher: Holly Seddon)
- Olivia Massar – Sutton Middle (Teacher: Rachel Nicholson)
- Azaria Wimberly – Brown Middle (Teacher: Coletta Lane)
- Kacie Burton – Jackson ES (Teacher: Cynthia Agee)
- Randall Reams – Peyton Forest ES (Teacher: Dr. Sarah Erickson)
- Mytreze Willis – Burgess Peterson Academy (Teacher: Dr. Loring Resler)
Congratulations to all of our 2020 Winter Card contest winners and a Happy Holiday to everyone in the Atlanta Public Schools family! Enjoy all of the joys and blessings of the season, and we will see everyone in the New Year!