Atlanta Public Schools’ first single-gender schools graduated its inaugural class Friday, May 23, 2014. The dual ceremony for graduates of B.E.S.T. Academy and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy was held at Atlanta’s Civic Center.
B.E.S.T. Academy valedictorian, Sharod McClendon, delivered an emotional message to his classmates.
McClendon is a Gates scholar and has received over $500,000 in scholarship dollars for his post-secondary studies through graduate school.
Mcclendon was born to a single, teenaged mother, lost his uncle to the prison system and this year lost his father in an act of violence.
“I have been the book that someone picked up, briefly examined then returned to the shelf without taking the time to read the story. Today, in this moment that will never come again.” McClendon told the crowd.
He plans to attend Louisiana State University.
Also honored were B.E.S.T. salutatorian and STAR student, Michael Williams. The STAR student honor goes to the graduate with the highest SAT or ACT score in the class and who has at least a 3.5 grade point average. Williams plans to attend the University of Georgia.
CSK Valedictorian,Jamaya Powell , is also a STAR student. She has received over $758,000 in scholarships and will
attend Syracuse University in the fall on a Posse scholarship. One hundred percent of the inaugural graduating class of CSK will attend college this fall.
Student after student reminded the audience that this would be the schools last, first class.
To date, the legacy class of 2014 has amassed over 7 million scholarship dollars.