Best in the World: B.E.S.T. Academy Senior Wins Third Place at International Science and Engineering Fair


Jahizreal Aquart2

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

B.E.S.T. Academy senior Jahizreal Aquart ranks among the top science students in the world, after winning third place in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics category at the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Los Angeles last weekend.

Competing against nearly 2,000 high school students from 75 countries, regions and territories, Jahizreal was awarded a $1,000 grant for his research, “A Novel Pan-Cancer Approach to Quantify Tumor Mutational Burden and Clinical Data Predictors for Immunotherapy Response towards Personalized Medicine.” His research focused on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate immune suppression in forming biomaterials for Type I diabetes.

Armed with a 3.8 GPA, Jahizreal is the first student at Atlanta Public Schools to earn the distinction as one of the world’s top science students.

With a bright future ahead of him, Jahizreal plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Hartford on a four-year pre-med health scholarship.

He said he will always cherish the experience.

“The science fair was one of the most exhilarating, eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had,” said Jahizreal, who participated in Project ENGAGES at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and plans to pursue a career in oncology. “This was the most exposure I’ve ever had to different ideas and people, and to seeing how big and competitive the world is. By far, it has been the best academic experience of my high school career.”

Student winners are ninth through twelfth graders who earned the right to compete at the Intel ISEF 2017 by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state or national science fair. The event unites top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral level scientists review and judge their work.

Millions of students worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs; the winners of these events go on to participate in Society-affiliated regional and state fairs, from which the best win the opportunity to attend Intel ISEF.

“The magnitude of winning speaks volumes for B.E.S.T. Academy, APS, and the state of Georgia,” Jahizreal said. “The best part is that it honors my mentors and researchers that I work with at Georgia Tech.”


APS Honors Student Athletes, Artists, Coaches, Administrators at 2017 Monk Jones Lecture Series & Coca-Cola Scholar Athlete Awards

The 2017 Calvin “Monk” Jones Lecture Series and Coca-Cola Scholar Athlete Golden Helmet Award winners (l-r) Frank C. Bailey Jr. (South Atlanta High School), Myronme T. Bell Jr. (Washington High School), Bardenie A. Phillips Jr. (Benjamin E. Mays High School), Corey R. Clems Jr. (B.E.S.T. Academy), Trevion J. Baker (George Washington Carver High School), Maurice D. Jones Jr. (Maynard Jackson High School), Chancey D. Payne (D.M. Therrell High School) and Johnathan X. Ford (Douglass High School).

In what has become a signature sign of spring in Atlanta Public Schools (APS), the district hosted its ninth annual Calvin “Monk” Jones Lecture Series and Coca-Cola Scholar Athlete Awards on Tuesday, May 16, on the campus of George Washington Carver High School.

Event named in honor of APS legend Calvin “Monk” Jones
The event honors the student athletes and artists, as well as athletic coaches and administrators, who had noteworthy accomplishments throughout the school year. It is named in honor of legendary APS basketball player and coach Calvin “Monk” Jones, who was an all-city and all-state player at Booker T. Washington High School and went on to become an all-conference and Black College All-American player at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), where he graduated in 1948.

Jones became a teacher and coach in APS in 1958. In 1967, he played a significant role in the desegregation of schools in Atlanta and throughout Georgia when he led all-black Carver High School to the Class AA state basketball championship in the first season in which black schools and white schools were allowed to compete against each other.

Keynote provided by two-time Super Bowl champ and Georgia native Tyrone Poole

Atlanta sports reporter/commentator Sam Crenshaw (left) moderated a Q&A session with keynote speaker Tyrone Poole (right).

Prior to receiving their awards, the students, coaches and administrators listened to two-time Super Bowl champion Tyrone Poole give his thoughts on the keys to success. The LaGrange, Ga., native was a two-sport (football and track) All-American at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University) and became the first defensive back selected in the 1995 National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Poole went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL with six different teams, including the New England Patriots, where he won two Super Bowl titles in 2004 and 2005. He told the audience the keys to success are passion, preparedness and partnerships.

“Find what you are passionate about and then do it. Go all out,” he said. “Prepare yourself as best as you can for doing whatever it is that you are passionate about. You must be prepared so that when your opportunity comes, you can take advantage of it.

“And you have to have good partners, good partnerships,” Poole said. “No one has ever accomplished anything all by themselves. You have to have good people, good partners in your life to help you reach your goals.”

After his remarks, Atlanta sports commentator and reporter Sam Crenshaw moderated a brief question-and-answer session where Poole interacted with students.

Here are the 2017 Calvin “Monk” Jones Lecture Series and Coca-Cola Scholar Athlete Award winners:

Fine Arts Award IMG_0956

B. E. S. T. Academy Philip T. Edge
CSK Young Women’s Leadership  Academy Kyarra A. Perry
Carver High School Omari S. Hargrove
Frederick Douglass High School Peter E. Smith
Henry W. Grady High School Caroline  M. Bray
Maynard Jackson High School Gerradeus M. Williams
Benjamin E. Mays High School Ja’Vodrick T. Smith
North Atlanta High School Yvonne  M. Shea
South Atlanta High School Ar’Mon S. Blackwell
D. M Therrell High School Kyran S. Huckaby-McCrory
Booker T. Washington High School Jamarya Y.  Wilkerson

Golden Helmet Award

B. E. S. T. Academy Corey R. Clems Jr.
Carver High School Trevion J. Baker
Frederick Douglass High School Johnathan X. Ford
Henry W. Grady High School Cailyn J.  Newton
Maynard Jackson High School Maurice D. Jones Jr.
Benjamin E. Mays High School Bardenie A. Phillips Jr.
North Atlanta High School Majeste’ G. Hansberry
South Atlanta High School Frank C. Bailey Jr.
D. M. Therrell High School Chancey D. Payne
Booker T. Washington High School Myronme T. Bell Jr.

Scholar Athlete Award

B. E. S. T. Academy Dionte L. West  
CSK Young Women’s Leadership  Academy   Lakeitha N. Taylor
Carver High School Adrian A.  Pizano Chaide A. Wynn
Frederick Douglass High School Matthew C. Yarbrough Kayla F. Trawick
Henry W. Grady High School Chase E. Kleber Beatrice A.  Brown
Maynard Jackson High School Martin A. Clarke Jr. Lucille A. Grant
Benjamin E. Mays High School Samuel J. Weekes Sydney N. Stepney
North Atlanta High School Sterling L. Spiegl Yvonne M. Shea
South Atlanta High School McKenzie D. E. Bacon Xavia M. Simmons
D. M. Therrell High School Daniel M. Martin Jr. Asha O. Redhead
Booker T. Washington High School Benjamin L. C. Leverette Jala N. Hawkins

Athletic Achievement Award

B. E. S. T. Academy Charlie A. Spear  
CSK Young Women’s Leadership  Academy   Lekeitha N. Taylor
Carver High School Quentin A. Gates Jr. Jamia S. Brewer
Frederick Douglass High School Ezekiel O. Njoku Riann M. McCollum
Henry W. Grady High School Erik N. Tischer Melissa  M. Brown
Maynard Jackson High School JaQuavius R. Hayes Tierenee L. Smith
Benjamin E. Mays High School Joshua V. Smith Kamiyah L. Street
North Atlanta High School Rausey P. Mason Alaina K. Van Nort
South Atlanta High School Frank C. Bailey Jr. Lawrencia A. Simon
D. M. Therrell High School Corey L. Moore Shandrea D. Lockhart
Booker T. Washington High School Rashaard J. Sheats Sabree T.  Gallishaw

Superintendent Scholar AthleteIMG_0965

North Atlanta High School Sterling L. Spiegl  
North Atlanta High School   Yvonne M. Shea

Coach of the Year Nominees

B. E. S. T. Academy Tony Rambo  
CSK Young Women’s Leadership  Academy   Cameron Storey
Carver High School    
Frederick Douglass High School LT. Col. Ray Hill Alana Allen
Henry W. Grady High School Brian Weeden Martha Jones
Maynard Jackson High School Russell Thomas Michelle Powell
Benjamin E. Mays High School Reginald Austin Dana Booker
North Atlanta High School Robert Bramlett Lois Bracken
South Atlanta High School Michael Reddick Candice Smiley
Booker T. Washington High School Inglis Hunter Denise Wright

Coaches of the YearIMG_0974

APS High School Reginald Austin

Benjamin E. Mays High School

Dana Booker

Benjamin E. Mays High School

APS Middle School Dwike Leonard

Sutton Middle School

Kristen Greene

Sylvan Middle School

Athletic Directors of the YearIMG_0968

D.M. Therrell High School APS High School- Rodney Hackney
Luther Judson Price Middle School Middle School – Gregory Spriggs

Athletic Trainer of the Year

Booker T. Washington High School Craig Boyd

Community Service/Partnership Award

Atlanta Falcons Amanda Dinkel


Mays Girls Lead Historic Day for APS at Track and Field State Championships

Mays Girls Track and Field 2017 Class 6A State Champs
The Mays girls track and field team won the program’s first state championship, last Saturday at the Georgia High Schools Association Class 6A state track and field championships, held in Carrollton.

The year of championships in Atlanta Public Schools came to a thrilling conclusion over the weekend as APS student athletes shined at the Georgia High School Association Track and Field State Championship meets over the weekend.

From the team standpoint, the Mays girls led the way, winning the Class 6A team championship. It is the first track and field state championship for the Mays girls and the second state title this year won by a girls’ team at Mays. The Lady Raiders won the Class 6A state title in basketball in March.

At the Class 6A meet, held in Carrollton, Mays got strong performance across the board. Class 6A Basketball Player of the Year Kamiyah Street placed first in the 300-meter hurdles, fourth in the 400 meters, and tied for fifth in the high jump. Also, Sydni Gilmore won the triple jump while Kendra Whitehurst placed seventh in the event. Chloe Robinson and Kendra took second and fourth place, respectively, in the long jump, Kendra and Jazmine Hall placed fifth and seventh, respectively, in the 100-meter hurdles and the Raider 1,600-meter relay team won gold while the 400-meter relay team placed sixth.

The South Atlanta girls’ team came in second at the Class 2A meet, held in Albany.  The Lady Hornets were led by Subrina Richman who won the 200 and 400 meters, Quadiana Medlock was fifth in the 100 meters, Iyana Wongus was third in the 400 meters, and the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams took first.

The Grady boys’ team placed third at the Class 5A meet in Carrollton, led by Christian McNair-Jones who won the 110-meter and the 300-meter hurdles. Babakarr Randall was fourth in the 100 and second in the 200, Jermaine Hosley was fourth in the 400, Ryan Jackson placed fifth in the 800, DeAndre Etienne was eighth in the pole vault, Jacquez Sloan was third in the long jump and Seth Wolfe was eighth in the shot put.

Other strong individual performances included:


  • Mutnodjmet Debnam of Grady won the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Soteria Russell of Carver won the shot put in Class 5A.
  • Ryah Jackson of Maynard Jackson was seventh the 100-meter hurdles and eighth in the 300-meter hurdles in Class 5A.
  • China Waldorf of Maynard Jackson was fifth in the 300-meter hurdles and sixth in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Shamara Holmes of Maynard Jackson was third in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Jabrea Smith of Maynard Jackson was seventh in the triple jump in Class 5A.
  • The Maynard Jackson girls’ 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay teams both placed fifth in Class 5A.
  • Dailyn Scott of Coretta Scott King was third in the 800 meters in Class 2A.
  • The Douglass girls’ 1,600-meter relay team took third in Class 2A.


  • Demetri Caesar of Mays won the high jump in Class 5A.
  • Carver’s 1,600-meter relay team was fourth in Class 5A.
  • Osazi Alkhaliq of Maynard Jackson was seventh in the pole vault in Class 5A.
  • Alan Johnson of Mays was third in the 800 meters in Class 5A.
  • Jackson Pearce of North Atlanta was fifth in the 1,600 meters in Class 5A.
  • Phillip Jackson of South Atlanta won the 400 meters in Class 2A.
  • Deshun Cade of Douglass was second in the 100 meters in Class 2A.
  • Montaive Lightner of Douglass was fourth in the 400 meters in Class 2A.
  • Jimmie Pierre of Douglass was sixth in the 800 meters in Class 2A.
  • Timothy Heyward of Washington finished eighth in the pole vault in Class 2A.
  • Richad White of South Atlanta finished sixth in the shot put in Class 2A.
  • Douglass’ 400-meter relay team finished second in Class 2A.
  • Douglass’ had two teams competing in the 1,600-meter relay in Class 2A. The “A-Team” finished fifth and the “B-Team” placed seventh.
  • South Atlanta’s 1,600-meter relay team finished fourth in Class 2A.

To view a video of APS’ historic day at the state track and field meets, click here.







Morningside Elementary School Named a 2017 Green Ribbon School By U.S. Dept. of Education


MES Green Ribbon School

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Morningside Elementary School has been selected as a 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School for its commitment to sustainable practices.

The award honors Morningside’s leadership in facilities, health and environmental education. In addition to Morningside, two other elementary schools, as well as the University of Georgia, were among the Georgia winners of the Green Ribbon School award.

“It is with such pride that Morningside celebrates our award as a 2017 US Department of Education Green Ribbon school,” Principal Audrey Sofianos said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized for our work in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness of our students, and providing environmental education that has now become a part of our school culture.”

As part of this national award distinction, Morningside is recognized for recently installing a $5 million HVAC unit that works simultaneously to both heat and cool the building, thus reducing the need for two separate units and reducing energy costs.

The school has also established a recycling program, worked to improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and provided effective environmental and sustainability education while incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways. This includes everything from student lessons and activities in the garden and Morningside’s Trees Atlanta partnership, to its turf fields that conserve water and other initiatives that have become a part of the school culture.

Across the country, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

Morningside and the other awardees will be honored on July 19 in Washington, D.C.


Assistant Attorney General of Georgia Inspires SPARK Students

Asst Attorney General of GA Visits SPARK

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Assistant Attorney General of Georgia Taylor Johnston recently visited Springdale Park Elementary School, inspiring a group of fifth-grade students to study hard, help others, and excel in school and their future careers.

Invited by Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) teacher Lisa Evans, Johnston visited SPARK as part of the Grady Cluster’s focus on preparing students for college and career. This school year, students have explored career possibilities and learned how creativity impacts their career choices.

During his visit, Johnston entertained students’ questions, explained how the legal system works, and shared what it takes to be a good lawyer.

“There are no required classes to attend law school,” Johnston told students. “You can study a language, philosophy, history, science, or anything else in college. In law school, you’re learning to read and think about the law. And as a lawyer, you must be able to understand what the other side is thinking or arguing. Being articulate will help make you a persuasive speaker.”

As an assistant attorney general, Johnston works in the criminal justice division, representing the State of Georgia in criminal appeals when defendant’s appeal their murder convictions. Johnston also represents the Georgia Department of Corrections in habeas corpus actions when inmates challenge the validity of their convictions. He is currently working as a fellow in the Attorney General’s Office.

Johnston said he was happy to share his experience with students.

“It’s important to give back, and I’m happy to share advice with younger kids,” said Johnston, a Macon native and alumnus of Duke University School of Law, who plans to become a federal prosecutor. “I enjoy passing along what I’ve learned.”

Evans said Johnston’s visit was part of her mission to expose students to creative careers. Previous guest speakers have included a lighting director, patent attorney and web designer and product developer.

“As a gifted educator, learning how to infuse and promote creativity and creative problem solving has always been an on-going goal and passion of mine,” Evans said.


E. Rivers Elementary Students Explore a World of Fun During STEAM Day

Second-grade students at E. Rivers Elementary School spent time extracting DNA from strawberries during STEAM Day.

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Petting a chicken. Extracting DNA from a strawberry. Flying a drone. Exploring the wonders of space. Programming sphero robots.

These were just some of the many lessons students at E. Rivers Elementary School learned last week when they participated in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Day. The daylong event was designed to expose students to the fun-filled world of science, technology, engineering, arts and math in ways they never dreamed possible.

Featuring keynote speaker Jon Cowart, NASA partner manager with the SpaceX Program, the event included nearly 30 presenters from 20 Atlanta-based organizations who spoke with students about everything from sustainability and the science behind farming and package delivery, to speech pathology and exploring stars via a mobile planetarium.

First graders learn about all about chickens from City Chicks Atlanta.

Presenting organizations included City Chicks, City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Chattahoochee Nature Center, UPS, Emory University, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and Trees Atlanta, among others.

“We wanted to show kids all the ways they haven’t quite thought of as science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said parent Annie Goode, who helped organize the event. “They’re learning how fun and exciting STEAM is and how it applies to every aspect of our lives.”

Fourth grader Ella Sipe poses with her mom, Megan Watkins, who helped organize STEAM Day

Students spent the day engaged in several hands-on activities, which included extracting strawberry DNA, making paper architectural structures, and learning about veterinary medicine and the important work the CDC does to prevent and cure diseases.

First grader Riley Sipe said his favorite part of STEAM Day was learning about space.

“It was really good and really fun,” said Riley, who learned that a baby star is bigger than an entire solar system, and that it takes more than two years to travel to and from Mars.

Riley’s sister, Ella, thought STEAM Day was just as fun.

“It’s great because so many people get to come and talk about science,” said the fourth grader, who wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. “This is hands-on, and the presentations are interesting. You always learn something new. It’s not dull, you can ask questions, and they show you experiments.”




North Atlanta High School Boys win First Area Championship in Lacrosse for APS

North Atlanta LAX
The North Atlanta High School boys’ lacrosse team won the Class AAAAAAA/AAAAAA Area 2 championship. The Warriors will host a first-round playoff game on May 4.

The North Atlanta High School boys lacrosse team has made history by becoming the first Atlanta Public School to win an area championship in the sport.

The Warriors finished the regular season a perfect 6-0 in Area 2 of the Georgia High School Association’s (GHSA) Class AAAAAA/AAAAAAA. In lacrosse, the state’s two largest classifications – Class AAAAAAA and AAAAAAA – are combined into one, while the state’s other five classifications – A through AAAAA – are combined into one as well.

As the Area 2 champs, North Atlanta will host a first round state playoff game on May 4 against the No. 4 seeded team from Area 4 (most likely to be Walton of Cobb County, Roswell of Fulton County, or Etowah of Cherokee County).

While they did not win a regular season championship, the Warriors girls squad has advanced to the state playoffs as well. As the No. 3 seed from Area 2, they will travel to Walton (Cobb County), the No. 2 seed from Area 4, for a first round playoff game on May 4.

Both North Atlanta squads will close out the regular season tonight against their APS rivals, Grady, at Grady stadium. The girls game is at 5:30, while the boys start at 7 p.m.

Grady’s teams advanced to the state playoffs as well. Both Grey Knight squads are No. 4 seeds from Area 1 of Class A/AAAAA and will play first round playoff games against No. 1 seeds on the road, May 2. The boys will face Westminster (Atlanta, private) while the girls will play Kell (Cobb County).