March 2014 Student Spotlight

Name:  Lauren WesseldykStudent  Spotlight Photo_March 2014_Lauren Wesseldyk

Grade:  4th

School: Bolton Academy

Favorite Subjects: Reading, Math

Career Goal: Architect

When Bolton Academy students break-in their 2014-15 agendas, they can thank Lauren Wesseldyk for the attractive cover. As the winner of Bolton Academy’s “agenda cover design contest”, the Bolton agenda cover will feature Lauren’s fancy artwork. Her design is a pictorial depiction of what the school offers and what makes it great: the focus on scholarship, the expansive media center and the extra-curricular programs.

“I drew a graduation cap on our mascot, Hootie, to show that we are preparing for graduation,” says Lauren, a Challenge and honor roll student.  She understands that the concepts she will have to master to graduate from high school will build on what she learns today.

She points out that her class is learning fractions, and although she had a hard time grasping the concepts in third grade, as she moves through the unit today, she can recall some of those third-grade concepts and apply them to her current lesson.  “It’s much easier this year,” she says.  “It all fits together.”

Lauren’s teacher, Monica Varner, says, “Lauren is always connecting things we are studying to her own experiences, or she will research concepts to learn more about them.  Varner adds that Lauren is “highly motivated and excited about learning.”

The Bolton staff has also recognized Lauren’s appetite for reading.  Bolton media specialist Francois Emmanuel says, “Lauren loves to read and she retains the information very well.”

During this year’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, a unique reading competition that tests students’ knowledge of selected books, Lauren answered a whopping 90 percent of the questions, helping the Bolton Academy team earn a final score in the middle of the pack – a respectable finish for a rookie team.  Lauren says she prepared by reading seven books during the summer, and rereading four of them in the fall.  After experiencing the thrills of participating as a rookie team, she is excited about representing Bolton next year.

A lover of fantasy books, Lauren is currently reading The Hobbit.  “I like how you don’t know what will happen next,” she says.  “It’s very suspenseful.”  She also enjoys boating, swimming in the ocean, drawing and reading.

Name:  Maia NelsonStudent Spotlight Photo_March 3013_Maia Nelson

Grade:  5th

School: Parkside Elementary

Favorite Subject: Math

Career Goal: Television Actress

Since first grade, Maia Nelson has never missed a day of school.  Regardless of the weather forecast, travel plans or a questionable cough, if school is in session, Maia is there.  According to Maia, it’s because school is fun.

As a safety patrol and member of the piano club and Cool Girls, Maia says, “No matter what you’re in to, there are lots of ways to express yourself here.”

Maia believes singing in the Parkside chorus and dancing with the dance team allow her to express herself through the art of performance. Last December, she had an opportunity to express herself during the performance of a lifetime: the Parkside chorus sang in front of thousands at the Georgia Dome.

“I was nervous at first, because of all the people,” admits Maia. “But after we finished singing, I was glad I did it.”

She says Parkside’s teachers also make school fun.  “They like to have fun with the students when they teach,” states Maia. As an honor roll and Challenge student who always strives to become better, Maia also appreciates Parkside’s afterschool tutorial.  Her teachers recognize her determination and her drive to learn new things.

When she grows up, Maia wants to act on TV. She got her first taste of the acting bug when she participated in a short version of James and the Giant Peach during an APS summer program. After moving on to full-length school plays like The Wiz and Back to the Future, Maia decided she wanted to act professionally.  Now, when she watches TV shows like Dog with a Blog, her favorite program, she says actors seem “so amazing.”

But the people she admires most are her parents.  “They sacrifice a lot of time and money to make sure I have everything I need…even when they find out at the last minute.  They help out at school, too,” she says. Maia explains that all parents don’t do these things, so she appreciates that her parents do. What’s the main reason she says they’re her heroes? “It’s because “they love me so much.”

Name:  Jorden Favors Student Spotlight Photo_March 2014_Jorden Favors

Grade:  11th

School:  South Atlanta School of Health and Medical Sciences

Favorite Subject:  Biology

Career Goal: Physician

After only two years at South Atlanta HMS, Jorden Favors is a school superstar. Numerous academic accomplishments, a well-rounded extra-curricular schedule and a determined spirit point to a future as bright as any star in the solar system.

Ranked number one in her class, Jorden holds multiple academic awards and honors: the sole APS student to attend the Congress for Future Physicians and Medical Leaders; induction into the National Society of Torch and Laurel, National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Leaders, National Honor Society, and National Beta Club.  Additionally, she was named a 2014 Ben Carson Scholar.

Earning a seat in the Emory Pipeline program, a health-science education partnership between South Atlanta HMS and Emory University, is the honor that requires the most ongoing hard work and continued academic excellence, but the payoff is huge.

“If I apply to Emory and I am accepted, they will provide a full scholarship and several undergraduate and graduate mentors in the medical field,” Jorden says.

Although she hasn’t decided where she will attend college, Jorden positively wants to enter the medical field, which is why she likes South Atlanta HMS.  “I enjoy the different medical-program opportunities here; they give me a foundation for my future while building my resume,” she states.

Jorden displayed a passion for biology at an early age, questioning how organisms worked and how they interacted with their environment.  Today, she says, “Learning about these things can help humans exist within their environment with better health, and help them care for the world better.”

She recognizes Pipeline for building her interest in the medical field.

“Not only does this program aid me in my post-secondary goals via sessions each week, it also motivates me to go for whatever I desire, because anything is possible,” states Jorden.  “Consequently, this program helped me decide to become a physician.”

Jorden is also a South Atlanta cheerleader, a member of Health Occupation Students of America, and she serves on the South Atlanta HMS Student Government Association.  She credits her family, her religion and her ambition for her success.

Name: Ebone’ HarrisStudent Spotlight March 2014_Ebone Harris

Grade: 8th

School: Brown Middle School

Favorite Subject: Art, Social Studies, Language Arts

Career Goal: Artist

An extremely artistic and creative young lady, Ebone’ Harris is an enthusiastic member of the Brown Middle School Gifted and Talented Academy.

Ebone’, who is completing her second year at Brown, consistently demonstrates her creativity in the arts. She skillfully sketches images after just a glimpse, and Ebone’ created the lettering and images used on her homeroom door for the College and Career Readiness Week door decorating contest.

When asked about are her favorites subjects, she excitedly responds, “Art, social studies and language arts.” Ebone’ says she loves creating projects for her classes, and the motivation for success is her desire to attend college and pursue a career as an artist.

Visual arts are not Ebone’s only passion; she is also a prolific writer. Ebone’ is one of 17 eighth-grade students participating in the Wrens Nest Scribes Program. She is currently working on a contemporary historical fiction short story about Atlanta. All the students’ stories will be featured in an anthology published this spring.

Earlier this year, Ebone’ was a grand marshal in the Festival of Lights parade as the winner of the Festival of Lights essay contest.  And she was a runner-up in the Brown Middle School No Place for Hate poetry slam for the powerful poem she crafted about the dangers of bullying.

Ebone’ uses her writing skills to create engaging and informative pieces in her gifted language arts class, which include a tragic and heartfelt story about the sinking of the Titanic.

Most recently, Ebone’ was recognized as one of three eighth- graders who won the Athletes for Charity essay contest, and won the opportunity to attend a Falcon’s game.

Submitted by Jennifer Hall, Brown Middle School Gifted & Talented Academy teacher and communications ambassador.

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