500 Little APS Feet Washed and Adorned with New Socks and Shoes

Volunteers exchanged hope for humility as they washed the feet of nearly 500 F.L. Stanton and Cleveland Avenue elementary students and adorned them with brand new socks and shoes.

The nonprofit organization behind the experience, Samaritan’s Feet, aims to inspire impoverished children around the world and to offer encouragement to those who need it most. 

“All of us today need a positive message, and we’re trying to give a positive message of hope,” said Phil Campbell, Samaritan’s Feet regional director of operations. “That message of hope is dream big dreams, education is the key, and never give up. To have a total stranger come in and serve that message of hope is amazing. They will never forget this day as long as they live.”

Since its founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet and its partners have distributed over 6.8 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries. Volunteers, which included school staff and community members, served about 300 students at F.L. Stanton on Jan. 16 and 200 students at Cleveland Avenue on Jan. 18.

Couches for a Cause: Crim Students Combine Carpentry Skills With Desire to Help Their School and Families in Need

Crim Open Campus High School senior Keyshawn Releford hopes to one day become a carpenter or engineer.

Thanks to the hands-on experience he’s gaining at school, Keyshawn is well on his way to fulfilling that special dream. Now enrolled in the Crim Entrepreneurship class, Keyshawn and his classmates are busy learning to repair and refurbish gently used couches – all in an effort to support students’ basic needs, provide academic scholarships, and help families in need.

Known as “Couches for a Cause,” the class gives Crim students the opportunity to repair gently used, handcrafted, contemporary couches and chairs by Joybird and later sell their handiwork to the public – all for a fraction of the cost. If sold brand new, many of the couches retail for $1,200-$3,000; most now sell between $300 and $750.

Keyshawn and his classmates were recently given the opportunity to showcase their woodworking and carpentry skills on Thursday, Jan. 10, during Crim’s second annual “Couches for a Cause Silent Auction.” With couches and chairs of every hue lining the school’s halls, community members perused, made bids, and purchased several pieces of furniture. The school hopes to top last year’s proceeds of $20,000.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Keyshawn, who is 17. “I’ve learned how to do more and become better at construction.”

Those words are music to construction teacher Gerald Lake’s ears. Lake and Crim Principal Dawn Parker established the class in 2018 with the intention of teaching students the basics of construction and developing and strengthening their teamwork, communication and entrepreneurial skills, while also giving back to the school and community in the form of scholarships and donations.

According to Lake, the class is designed to teach everything from construction safety skills and tool identification, to creating couch frames, fabricating new pieces and developing basic entrepreneurship skills. This includes marketing, advertising and negotiating deals, as well as collecting money and invoices. Students also deliver furniture to families in need.

Lake said students are not only gaining useful skills, but they’re also building community by helping others.

“I’m quite proud,” Lake said. “Students are able to concentrate and create things in here. They’re getting great employability skills, and as a teacher, watching them grow and learn is what’s really important. They bring really great energy into the classroom.”

For more information, or to purchase a couch, be sure to visit: https://www.32auctions.com/couchesforacause.

Six APS Seniors Earn $1.5M in Scholarships and Join Their ‘Posses’ on a Free Ride to College


“I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.”

This statement, made by an anonymous student, was the impetus for The Posse Foundation.

For 30 years, the college access program has identified and trained young scholars who might be overlooked by prestigious schools and placed them in supportive, multicultural groups of 10 students — posses. With mentoring and full-tuition leadership scholarships from partner colleges, Posse scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent.

Students in the Atlanta chapter were honored at an awards ceremony held Jan. 10 at Fox Theatre.

“Scholars here tonight competed against 1,400 of Atlanta’s best and brightest students who were nominated this year. We saw something special in each and every one of them,” said Posse Atlanta Director Zenith Houston during her remarks. “This class of scholars will join a legacy of scholars who are really making a difference in becoming leaders in the workforce.”

This year, 60 students from Atlanta will be awarded nearly $12 million in full‑tuition leadership scholarships from Bard College, Boston University, Brandeis University, The College of Wooster, The George Washington University and Texas A&M University. Six APS scholars earned scholarships worth approximately $1.5 million.

Student High School College
Avery Alford Grady Georgia Washington University
Deiandre Penny Therrell Boston University
Keziah Corbett Grady Brandeis University
Samaira Wilson North Atlanta Bard College
Shamayam Sullivan Grady Boston University
Taylor Jackson Grady College of Wooster

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation helped fund the opening of the Atlanta office in 2007. Since then, Posse Atlanta scholars have won $84.1 million in scholarships.

To date, 8,490 Posse scholars have been awarded $1.2 billion in full tuition merit scholarships from Posse’s college and university partners. In addition to Atlanta, the foundation has chapters in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and Washington, D.C. Of the more than 16,000 students nominated by high schools and community-based organizations for the Posse Scholarship this year, 720 will be selected for this prestigious award.

APS student and Harvard Diversity Project alumnus receives early Harvard acceptance

Atlanta, GA – Friday, December 14, 2018 – On Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 7:00 P.M., thousands of students from around the world tuned in to the Early Action announcement of Harvard College. According to the Harvard Crimson, the renowned institution invited 935 of 6,958 early applicants to join its Class of 2023, marking a 13.4 percent acceptance rate — and what is likely the most competitive early admissions cycle in Harvard history. Among those selected was Osazi Al-Khaliq, a senior at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School in Atlanta, GA.

“I’m honestly at a loss for words,” Osazi states. “It is because of the sense of purpose and validation that the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project has instilled within me that positioned me to be admitted into the Harvard College Class of 2023. Being accepted into Harvard is a testament to how much the Diversity Project has cultivated within me a sense of academic excellence, cultural pride, and community leadership.”

Executive Director Brandon Fleming set out to establish a program that would provide under- resourced Black youth exposure to academic training that would make them more competitive in pursuit of Ivy League and top-tiered universities. In 2017, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) was established as an Atlanta-based pipeline program to recruit, train, and feedstudents of color into a prestigious summer residency at Harvard College. “Too often, Black youth,no matter how gifted and motivated, do not benefit from the same enrichment opportunities as others who can typically afford them,” states Dani Ayers, President of HDCDP. “In regard to college matriculation, educational inequity places them at a distinct disadvantage when matched up against students who have attended elite preparatory and private schools. This is why we decided to start this pipeline.”

Last summer, HDCDP sent 25 Atlanta youth to Harvard’s summer residency for high school students, where they studied alongside over 400 gifted young scholars from around the world. The residency concluded with a single-elimination debate tournament, which the Atlanta group dominated and reigned champions. News of the Atlanta pipeline’s historic victory instantly brokenational headlines.

“To the outside world, the HDCDP was a pipeline program that trained students around Metro Atlanta to debate, be leaders, and enjoy a residency at Harvard. But joining its inaugural class encompassed so much more than that – it was symbolic of the hope that no dream of mine wasfarfetched,” Osazi remarks. “I know of no other program in existence that gives students and their community the amount of purpose, resolve, and belonging that the Diversity Project gives. By joining this program, I have learned to be a thought-leader who is civically-engaged and prepared to make an indelible impact on the world.”

In Fall 2019, Osazi will attend Harvard College on a full scholarship.

For more information, please contact Kellye Britton at kbritton@harvarddcdp.org or call (678) 322-8057.

Morris Brandon Elementary Students ‘Travel’ to South Africa During International Travelers Week

Whether learning about indigenous animals, discovering the significance of the Baobab tree, or experiencing Zulu dance for the first time, students at Morris Brandon Elementary School were immersed in South African culture this week.

Thanks to their participation in the International Travel Academy program, students in grades K-5 spent time engaging in a fun, hands-on educational curriculum that allowed them to “travel” to South Africa – all within the walls of their school building. Students participated in games like Morabaraba, created works of art to mimic the ancient rock art, and learned about the language, history, geography and native animals of South Africa. They even gained knowledge about different aspects of the culture like a traditional Sangoma wedding, as well as Zulu dancing from the local dance group Soweto Street Beats.

In addition to dancing, students created artwork and dolls similar to those traditionally left for the girls a South African man would like to marry, tasted a South African vegetable stew from Zunzi’s restaurant called “bunny chow,” and listened to a guest speaker from South Africa who taught students about national symbols and how read to them.

“Programs such as International Travel Academy allow schools to enhance the International Baccalaureate experience,” said Samuel De Carlo, IB specialist at Morris Brandon. “It provides students the opportunity to not only experience the history, diversity, and traditions of other cultures; but it then allows students to apply their learning in the context of the IB Learner Profile. These experiences allow students to be more be respectful of other cultures, show tolerance and empathy to other traditions, and develop a greater appreciation for other cultures within our own student body.”

Thanks to a visit from the North Georgia Zoo on Dec. 18, students also received an up-close look and lessons about several South African animals, which included a barn owl, lizard, albino python, bush baby, and a red ruffed lemur.

Dwight Hutson, program administrator at the Morris Brandon Primary Center, said he hopes the International Travel Academy will inspire students to become more globally minded and culturally aware of the world around them.

“Morris Brandon’s vision is to nurture, inspire, and support students in becoming lifelong, responsible, compassionate inquirers who develop a global perspective,” Hutson said. “In an increasingly global society, it is our responsibility as educators to prepare students to interact with and develop an understanding of diverse cultures from around the globe. International Travelers Week is designed to immerse our students in a new country each year, spark an interest in traveling, and inspire our students to learn more about the world and its people.”

#APSRace2Read: 2 Million Minutes Met As 30 Schools Cross the Finish Line

In just shy of six weeks since the launch of our district-wide reading challenge APS Race2Read, 30 schools have crossed the finish line, and Atlanta Public Schools has surpassed our original 2 million minutes reading goal!

Congratulations to every Race2Read participant who has helped us reach and surpass 2 million minutes. In the new year, we will announce a new goal. First, let’s acknowledge the schools who led the race in logged minutes and overall participation.

The following schools have crossed the finish line, meeting individual school goals. (New goals will be set in the new year.)

SchoolLogged minutes as of Dec. 20
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy213,430
Sarah Smith Elementary School203,026
Deerwood Academy 163,464
Morris Brandon Elementary School148,406
Morningside Elementary School144,176
Jackson Elementary School135,681
Sylvan Hills Middle School117,914
Miles Elementary School108,965
Garden Hills Elementary School99,693
Mary Lin Elementary School94,577
Springdale Park Elementary School80,726
Fickett Elementary School78,138
Finch Elementary School63,846
Fred A. Toomer Elementary School60,794
Humphries Elementary School56,377
Boyd Elementary School54,420
Cleveland Avenue Elementary School48,541
Frank L. Stanton Elementary School 46,411
Perkerson Elementary School45,267
Woodson Park Academy45,209
Continental Colony Elementary School44,537
Usher-Collier Elementary School41,737
Hutchinson Elementary School40,811
Crawford W. Long Middle School38,606
M. Agnes Jones Elementary School37,591
Barack and Michelle Obama Academy34,394
Kimberly Elementary School26,066
West Manor Elementary School25,766
Beecher Hills Elementary School24,975
Benteen Elementary School19,815

The following schools are currently leading the District with overall participation.

School% of participants
Humphries Elementary School99.66%
Finch Elementary School96.56%
Fred A. Toomer Elementary School 94.90%
Cleveland Avenue Elementary School81.21%
Morris Brandon Elementary School75.05%
Sarah Smith Elementary School72.60%
West Manor Elementary School70.63%
Benteen Elementary School65.91%
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy64.85%
Boyd Elementary School62.85%

Atlanta Police Donate Coats to APS Students in Need

When the weather outside becomes frightful, 143 Atlanta Public Schools students will be delightful, thanks to the Atlanta Police Department.

Zone 3 Officer Jean Mesidor collected 143 winter coats for children in kindergarten through 5th grade at Cleveland Avenue Elementary School and T.H. Slater Elementary School. Officer Mesidor set up collection boxes for the coats at various APD facilities, including the precincts and mini-precincts. The most coat donations came from APD staff at Headquarters and 911 Communications.

On December 17, officers visited the schools and presented new coats to children in need. Teachers worked with the police department to ensure the sizes were correct.

What a warm way to head into holiday break!