Posts filed under ‘Student Spotlight’

April 2014 APS Student Spotlight Featuring Students from Fickett, Carver Early College, SPARK and Towns

Name:  Ronald White III Student Spotlight 2014_Ronald White III_Ficket Elementary School

Grade:  5th

School: Fickett Elementary School

Career Goal: Engineer/Entrepreneur

Ronald White, III is a proud 5th grade Trojan who has been at Fickett Elementary School since kindergarten. He is an honor student with multiple interests.

Ronald plays soccer and enjoys swimming, playing video games and Monopoly, watching movies with his family, and creating various art projects. He participates in the Fickett Robotics Team, band, safety patrol, and student TV broadcast. He is in the Georgia Tech K.I.D.S. (Kids Interested in Discovering Science) program, and a lifetime member of SWAYBO (Southwest Atlanta Youth Business Organization). In SWABYO, he learned about the fundamentals of owning and running a business and ran his own retail business.

Ronald’s 5th grade teacher, Mr. Gerald Gray, says he has watched him grow academically. He describes him as a positive, hard-working, dependable, and organized student who is an inquisitive risk-taker.

In the future, Ronald wants to attend Georgia Tech to study Robotics Engineering and he says he wants to start a family business.

Ronald is a recent recipient of the 2014 Ben Carson College Scholarship and received $1,000 at a special ceremony on March 26.


Name: Austin MinorStudent Spotlight 2014_Austin Minor_Carver EC

Grade: 9th

School: Carver Early College

Career Goal: Orthopedic Surgeon/Entrepreneur

The outstanding reputation of Carver Early College in the community led to Austin Minor enrolling as a freshman. Now, he is the top academic student in his junior class. Austin says that he’s at the head of his class because it was one of his goals and he’s learned to stay focused on what he really wants. The orientation program for freshmen at Carver called Jumpstart helped Austin to become acquainted with the expectations and rigor of the school.

What Austin really loves about Carver Early College are its teachers. This is a recurring theme. Austin says that the teachers genuinely care about the students and are committed to their success. He says that although he studies a lot, he has also played several sports. He has participated in swimming, golf, tennis and cross-country. His favorite is cross-country. Austin is an officer of the Student Government Association and is president of The Esquires. The Esquires is an all-male club which emphasizes building the character of young men. He says that he has enjoyed all of the networking opportunities and serving the community through this organization. Through community service, Austin has mentored middle school students as well as worked with literacy programs for adults.

Austin advises students to stay centered on their studies and to “grab onto a goal”. His love of Science has led to his desire to become an orthopedic surgeon. An internship this summer in the office of Dr. Erroll Bailey (a prominent, local orthopedic surgeon) has confirmed his passion. He plans to attend Harvard University or Emory University. He also has an intense interest in entrepreneurship which he knows will lead him to start his own practice.

Because he has seen many of his peers turn around because of his influence, Austin is working on a self-help book for students. Kudos are in order for this valedictorian-to-be.


Name: Annie LasterStudent Spotlight 2014_Annie Laster_SPARK

Grade: 4th

School: Springdale Park Elementary

Career Goal: Teacher/Scientist

Annie has attended Springdale Park since it opened five years ago. Since then, she has excelled academically and matured into a well-rounded student with an effervescent and glowing personality. In fact you could say she’s a real ‘spark.’

Annie becomes entranced by the magic of a good book the way most kids are entranced by the power of television. She breezed through the nearly 1,000 pages of the thickest book in the Harry Potter series, and she welcomed with open arms the 14 required readings for this year’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl. SPARK media specialist Roy Carter says Annie played a critical role for SPARK’s rookie team during the reading bowl, and he expects her to serve as team captain next year.

Annie is currently reading “An Hour Before Daylight” by Jimmy Carter. An unusual choice for a fourth-grader, but since she will soon visit Plains, GA – the birthplace and current home of the former president – she believes reading the book will give her a deeper appreciation for the trip.

“It describes how the rural farmers lived in the Great Depression, and how hobos were always around. And it said a white man would only earn $12 a month, but a black man would only make eight,” says Annie. The straight A student says while visiting Plains, she plans to attend the Sunday school class Carter teaches at his church.

This natural thirst for learning and experiencing new things have served Annie well at SPARK: She is a member of SPARK’s student government association; she plays piano and violin and sings in the advanced chorus; and she will accompany the chorus on piano at their next performance.

“I really like the music education and Challenge class, because they let you have fun while learning. We do a lot of fun and creative projects in Challenge – last year we did a gold rush simulation.”

In her spare time, Annie enjoys sports, skiing, roller blading, zip lining, hunting for critters at the creek, and of course reading. Is there anything this energetic SPARK doesn’t do?

“I don’t play video games, or watch much television,” says Annie, and she’s clearly doing just fine without them.



Name: Colin Cofield

Student Spotlight 2014_Colin Cofield_Towns ElementaryGrade: 3rd

School: Towns Elementary

Career Goal: Scientist


Towns Elementary teacher Deidra Burson says no matter what she puts in front of her student, Colin Cofield, he tackles it with enthusiasm.

“He’s inquisitive, innovative and smart,” says Burson. “He just loves learning.”

Colin agrees. “I really like to learn.” Learning new things – especially in math and science – is the reason he loves going to school. And he gives another reason: “It’s good to learn as much as you can, because if you don’t learn, you won’t get a job.”

Colin enjoys learning about science more than any other subject, even exploring the field away from school. “I watch the weather forecast everyday; I learn a lot about the different kinds of weather that way,” says the future meteorologist.

Conducting experiments with things like bubbles and magnets is what Colin likes most about science. His class is currently studying rocks and minerals, and they recently took a field trip to the Tessler museum where Colin had a chance to view fossils and dinosaur bones up close, something he really enjoyed.

“It was a lot of fun,” Colin says. “That’s something I like about this school – the fun field trips. ”

Colin says the teachers also make Towns fun. He notes that one teacher also stands out as funny.

“My teacher, Ms. Burson, is the funniest. She makes a lot of jokes during class, and if you’re good, she ‘ll do nice things and give you treats.”

And Colin is always doing good things according to Burson.

“Colin is a just a wonderful student,” she says. “He makes all A’s, he’s cooperative, he’s a peer tutor, so he’s always helping his classmates, and he’s always eager to satisfy his teachers.”

Colin is a Challenge student, and as a Towns morning announcer, he delivers late-breaking news to the Towns students and staff. Colin likes this role, because he says it’s helping him polish his public speaking skills – something he’ll need when he becomes a meteorologist. A talented baseball player, Colin spends his spare time on the baseball diamond and bicycling with his friends and his mother.





April 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

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.

March 1, 2014 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

APS Student Spotlight – December, 2013

StudentSpotlightJoeDarriusCallowayName:  Joe’Darrius Calloway

School: Margaret Fain Elementary School

Grade:  5th

Whoever coined the expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” must have been thinking about Joe’Darrius Calloway.  Challenges seem to compel Joe’Darrius to work harder and keep trying until he can claim victory – he never gives up.

Persistence has helped Joe’Darrius learn tricks on the basketball court, like dribbling the ball between his legs and behind his back, and in the classroom.  That persistence also pays off in the classroom.

“If I get a question wrong, I always keep trying until I get it right,” he says.  He also tells himself to never settle for less than his best.

Earlier this year, Joe’Darrius – a challenge student and Math League member – made a ‘C’ on a math test.   As a math enthusiast and Fain Junior Beta Club member, Joe’Darrius says the grade nearly sent him into a state of shock.

“I couldn’t believe I let myself make that grade.  I was mad at myself, because I knew the right answers, but I didn’t take my time on the test.”

The grade prompted Joe’Darrius to push himself to do better on his next test – which he aced.

Fifth-grade teacher David Archibald teaches Joe’Darrius math, and he has seen the fifth-grader’s determination and persistence.

“Joe’Darrius pushes himself and others around him to excel in all that they do,” says Archibald.

Mr. Archibald has also noticed that Joe’Darrius consistently comes to class prepared and ready to learn – two simple actions that allow Joe’Darrius to absorb information and satisfy what Archibald calls, “an unyielding thirst for knowledge that never seems to end.”

Joe’Darrius also serves as a peer tutor, which allows him to help his classmates improve their understanding of difficult lessons.  It’s a responsibility he enjoys.

“I really like it when I’m helping them with something hard and they finally get it,” he says.

Peer tutoring is one of many things Joe’Darrius loves about Fain.  His Fain ‘fun list’ includes a recent field trip to the Cyclorama, school dances and preparing his science project, “Which Drink Stays the Fizziest?”, for the upcoming fair.

Away from school, Joe’Darrius loves reading books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” – one of his favorites – and playing football and basketball with his friends.  He would love to become a professional dirt bike rider for the X- Games someday, but if that doesn’t pan out, Joe’Darrius wants to design sneakers or work in a math-related field.

Avryanna3Name:  Avryanna Holmes

School:  Venetian Hills

Grade:  2nd

Only in second grade, Avryanna Holmes already understands how important it is to do her best in everything she touches, and the connection between doing her best and achieving success.

“I see that my grandmother does a good job, so I need to do a good job too, because I want to be like her.  She motivates me to do my best,” says Avryanna, who adds that her grandmother always encourages her to succeed.

This grandmotherly encouragement has yielded remarkable results: since kindergarten, Avryanna has made straight A’s on her report cards; she reads at least five books every week, has passed more Accelerated Reader quizzes than anyone in the school, and has earned the Venetian Hills Accelerated Reader program “Top Reader” title; and the avid runner has won five medals for her impressive performance at various track competitions.

For Avryanna, doing her best also means helping others. So while she enjoys winning, Avryanna does not hold back when it comes to sharing the secrets to her success: She shares her strategies for passing the AR quizzes with her classmates, so that they can be successful, too.

That helpful nature has led Avryanna to set her eyes on becoming a doctor someday; the second-grader says she wants to be a doctor, because she likes helping people, and she wants to save lives. A career as a physician would be perfect for Avryanna, especially since she loves solving problems –solving problems is one reason she says math is her favorite subject.

Avryanna’s passion for learning is so strong, she loves learning subjects across the curriculum, and Venetian Hills has given her plenty of opportunities for that.

Avryanna sums it up by saying, “I enjoy school because you learn a lot of things…and I enjoy making friends, too.”

Student Spotlight 2013_Jaden Gonzalez ArringtonName:  Jaden Gonzalez Arrington

School:  Hutchinson Elementary School

Grade: 5th

Jaden is an aspiring hip hop artist who hopes to change the world of rap through positive lyrics.

Last year, he wrote and performed his own original music, which his father produced. And in October, the duo performed an original song — which carried a drug-free theme — in front of the entire Hutchinson student body.  The audience was so impressed with the father and son collaboration, they insisted on an encore performance. The star student admits that initially, he had butterflies when he performed, but the cheers from his classmates quickly put him at ease.

Before that performance, many of Jaden’s peers had never heard him rap, but after the Red Ribbon Week pep rally, they were fully aware – and impressed – with his verbal skills.

Jaden is not impressed with the current state of hip hop and believes it perpetuates negativity among young listeners. So he says once he becomes a well-known artist, he will focus on education, street smarts, and common sense.

Jaden’s father is a former hip hop musician, and Jaden calls him his biggest inspiration.

Submitted by Cassell Gray, Hutchinson Elementary music teacher and communications ambassador

BPA-JacobThomasName:  Jacob Thomas

School:  Burgess-Peterson Academy

Grade:  1st

Jacob Thomas was recently named student of the month at Burgess-Peterson Academy.  He is a well-rounded student who excels in all subjects.

“I love being at school because I learn a lot and my teacher helps me a lot,” Jacob said.

After Jacob completes his classwork, he usually helps his classmates complete theirs, whether they are close friends or just acquaintances. He says he does this, because all of his classmates are special to him.

Jacob has a natural attraction to science, and he wants to become a scientist when he grows up.  And recently, Jacob and a group of his classmates impressed their first-grade teacher when they conducted a science experiment in which they put water in bottles to create a range of pitches.  The experiment proved that having less water in a container creates a higher pitch.

When he is away from school, Jacob likes to dance and play catch.  But most of all, he  likes to play with his twin brother Jabari – the two are inseparable. Since they have almost identical personalities, it’s no wonder they get along so well.  Jacob sums up their relationship by simply saying, “He’s my best friend.”

“Jacob Thomas is very articulate, outgoing, and a hard-worker,” said Carolyn Reese, first-grade teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy. “He has great manners, carries himself like a preacher, and strives to do his very best in everything he does.”

December 4, 2013 at 8:05 am 4 comments

Student Spotlight of the Week

frtizName: Fritz Joseph

Grade: Pre-K

School: Continental Colony Elementary

Fritz Joseph is a Pre-K student at Continental Colony Elementary School of C. H.O.I.C.E.  He enjoys listening to music, dancing, reading and exploring on the computer and his teacher’s iPad. Fritz’s favorite subject in school is music because he enjoys playing with the various instruments in class with his friends. He also enjoys learning with his peers and participating in hand-on-activities.  Fritz is very active and likes to move around.

“Fritz is a phenomenal student,” says Christopher Strozier, Fritz’s teacher.  “He follows directions and lends a hand to his classmates.  In class Fritz loves to receive stickers and prizes for a job well done.”

At the beginning of the year Fritz was selected as the Student of the Month for August.  Three goals Fritz has mastered this year are identifying his colors, numbers and shapes.  He has exceeded in all areas. Fritz’s teacher also describes him as a developing leader. He exemplifies leadership qualities daily by leading the line throughout the building from the classroom to the cafeteria and opening doors for others.  He is also a representative on the Student Government Association.

Outside of school Fritz is involved in his church.  His ultimate goal in life is to be successful and become a college graduate.

Atlanta Public Schools hopes to cultivate more students like Fritz through its Pre-K programs. APS has 34 school sites, including Continental Colony, with 41 classes that serve more than 850 students in the traditional Pre-K program. In all, APS serves approximately 1,050 early education students, including 3- and 4-year-olds who have special needs and attend an APS Pre-K classroom.

Cleveland-Zackariya BeasleyName: Zackariya Beasley

Grade: 5th Grade

School: Cleveland Avenue Elementary

Zackariya is an active young-lady-in-training as part of the Just Be Beautiful, Inc.  girls mentoring organization under the mentorship of Rita Simmons, who is also her gifted and talent-development teacher. Last school year, she enjoyed the weekly afterschool sessions where girls discussed a variety of topics including etiquette, character, friendship, health, cleanliness and other topics of interest.

“Zackariya is a young lady of great integrity and positive character. She embodies the very essence of great work ethics. Zackariya is self motivated and extremely responsible. She is an excellent representation for Just Be Beautiful, Inc. Girls Mentoring Organization,” Rita Simmons states.

For the past two years, Zackariya has been a student in the Gifted and Talent-Development Program at her school. As part of their economics unit,  students in the class created a business.  Zackariya created Kara’s Parties during her first year, and Parties 4 U the following year, in partnership with a few classmates for the Student Entrepreneur Business Showcase. Students were required to create their own business cards, logo, motto, decorations, and provide their own products to sell. The event was held in the school gymnasium, and students were invited to attend and purchase products from the budding entrepreneurs.

“I learned how to create a business plan, how to manage a business and student employees, and how to sell products and make a profit,” Zackariya says.  She is looking forward to the Gifted and Talent-Development field trip in November to Orlando, Florida, where she will learn about marine biology.

Zackariya enjoys running in her free time, and her favorite subjects are math and reading. She hopes to become a teacher in the future because she enjoys helping her teacher with tasks, such as monitoring the classroom behavior chart. Zackariya’s teacher, Kimberly Lawrence, sums her up in one statement, “She’s like Channel 2 News – ‘dedicated, determined, and dependable.’”

Inman-KaiName: Kai Mahra

Grade: 6th Grade

School: Inman Middle

Kai is an 11-year-old sixth-grade student at Inman Middle School.  His favorite subject is science, and he enjoys all of his other subjects as well.  One of his favorite hobbies is reading, and his favorite book series is “The Maze Runner” trilogy.

Sixth-grade English language arts teacher Mary Elizabeth Todd says, “Kai is a hard-working, creative and witty student who gets along well with peers, and is very likable.”

Kai is an athletic student, and plays tennis and soccer with the Inter Atlanta F.C. Blues. “I cannot wait until basketball season starts,” Kai says. He is passionate about music, and plays the trumpet in the Inman sixth- grade band and both school jazz bands.

A frequent traveler, Kai has visited various areas in the U.S. and numerous countries, including India, Japan, Thailand, Europe and South America.  He hopes to eventually travel to all seven continents.  Although Kai is allergic to dairy and nuts, he likes to cook and learns cooking skills from his mom.

“My favorite foods are pasta, buffalo wings and bacon,” he says.

Kai is a talented, active and creative student who displays great behavior at school, and is a great example to everyone around him.

Name:   Jordan Boswell  Student Spotlight_Jordan Boswell_Garden Hills 2013

Grade:   4th

School:  Garden Hills Elementary

Jordan Boswell is new to Garden Hills , but he has already decided that the expansive school media center is one of his favorite places.  The large windows and decorative walls inside the media center are alluring and inviting, and make it the perfect get-away for avid readers like Jordan.

The fourth-grader loves settling down with a good book, like his favorite read, “Charlie Bone and the Castle.”  In fact, Jordan says he prefers spending his spare time reading more than watching television.

Incidentally, his life is probably just as intriguing as any book on the library shelves.  For starters, Jordan, like his mother, was born in Ethiopia, and has dual citizenship.  His grandmother – an American – traveled from the U.S. to Ethiopia as part of an expedition, and two generations later, Jordan entered the world.  Although he was very young when he left Ethiopia, Jordan still remembers living in the family’s mud house, a standard type of dwelling in the African nation.

Jordan is number eight in a lineup of nine children .  He says he is happy he belongs to such a large family, because visiting them allows him to travel all over the country.  Of all the places he travels, Jordan likes visiting Chicago and Detroit the most, because he enjoys the snowy winters .  In addition to playing in the snow and building snow angels, a trip up north in the winter allows Jordan to do one of his favorite things:  join his siblings as they load into a canoe and race down the snow-covered hills.

Robbie Brown, Jordan’s teacher, calls him “an excellent student”; that’s good, because in order to succeed at his career goals, nothing short of excellence will do.  Jordan’s grandmother, mother and uncle are physicians, and he wants to follow in their footsteps and become a doctor or brain surgeon when he grows up.  Then again, since his father plays professional football, Jordan says a career in the NFL is another appealing possibility.

Brown says Jordan is an “inquirer,” and “he likes to learn new things.”  Whether he’s suiting up for surgery, or charging down the gridiron, these traits will certainly serve this impressive student well.

October 29, 2013 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Student Spotlight of the Week

AniceahName: Aniceah Leaks

Grade: 5th Grade

School: Heritage Academy

Aniceah Leaks is a talented and diligent fifth grade student at Heritage Academy, who has been in the APS Gifted and Talented Program for three years.  Her favorite activities are solving math problems, learning new things, and cheerleading at school. When Aniceah grows up, she hopes to become a lawyer, because she is great at reasoning and debating.  She is also artistic and likes to dabble in art.

Aniceah describes herself as silly, curious, and active.  She looks up to her mom, dad, and other adults in her family because they support her in all that she does. She strives to make a positive impact on the world.  If there were one thing she could change, she would have more peace in the world.

Aniceah’s accomplishments are an excellent example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

ImaniDurrName: Imani Durr

Grade: 2nd Grade

School: Toomer Elementary

Imani is an active, hardworking, and intelligent student at Toomer Elementary School. She received a 100 in her science class last year, and excelled in all of her other subjects as well. “I like to listen, and pay attention in class,” Imani says.

Imani believes it is important to be active, and to exercise regularly. She enjoys doing the cartwheel, riding her scooter, and dancing. She signed up for dance class at a PTA meeting, and cannot wait for her first session. “I like to have a lot of energy and don’t want to be lazy,” she says.

Imani hopes to become a singer and pop star when she grows up. She loves singing and dancing and believes this is the perfect career path for her. Imani is also artistic, and appreciates creative art, including paper art and face painting. She values her time with family, and always looks forward to visiting her grandmother in Birmingham.

Imani is an ambitious student who excels in her studies, values her family and friends, and is working toward achieving her dreams.

Name: Curtis Olawumi curtis

Grade: 7th Grade

School: Bunche Middle School

Curtis Olawumi, a seventh grader at Bunche Middle School, is an all-star student and talented musician. It is no surprise that what Curtis loves most about school is MUSIC, and the trumpet is his instrument of choice.

Though he enjoys various subjects, his passion and talent for music definitely does not go unnoticed. Curtis was recently selected to participate in Julliard’s summer jazz camp. He was the youngest participant in the summer workshops in Atlanta.

Curtis also has been recognized as a Louis Armstrong jazz award winner. He has attended the GMEA all-state band auditions and the UGA MidFest. UGA MidFest, also known as the The University of Georgia Middle School Band Festival, is a three-day event for middle school band musicians. Students are nominated by their director, and the MidFest staff selects approximately 1000 students from 130 schools to participate based upon their musical achievements and talent.

According to Curtis, his parents motivate him to succeed each and every day. By supporting his talent and encouraging him to do well, Curtis’ parents have definitely helped him reach for the stars.

Curtis is involved in several extracurricular activities including the jazz band, symphonic band, the  Atlanta Public Schools all-star band, and football. He is also very involved with his church’s music ministry. When asked about his future aspirations it is no surprise that Curtis is determined to take his musical talent to new heights and become a professional musician.

Name:  Jarricus Cook  Student Spotlight_Jarricus Cook_Woodson_2013

Grade:  2nd

School:  Carter G. Woodson Primary School

“An awesome student.”  That’s how Woodson first grade teacher Brenai Dickens refers to her former student, Jarricus Cook.  Other teachers use language just as flattering to describe the second-grader. 

“Jarricus is an intelligent, polite and respectful young man,” says his kindergarten teacher, Tracie Reid.  And he is a “great leader” whose problem solving skills “exceed expectations,” according to his current teacher, Chiara White.

Jarricus has clearly made a big impression on the adults who have worked closely with him in the classroom, and he has also influenced his classmates.  He respects everyone – teachers and peers alike. And the same is true when it comes to being helpful; Jarricus is always quick to lend a helping hand to the adults at Woodson, and if senses that a fellow student is having trouble, Jarricus is there to assist. 

Qualities like these have turned Jarricus into an excellent role model for his classmates, and when you add trustworthiness and excellent leader to his list of attributes, it’s clear why White selected Jarricus to be a classroom team captain. As a team captain Jarricus must frequently give his team directions.  Already, in second grade, he understands that he has to do this gracefully. So Jarricus is respectful and polite – never bossy – when he directs his team members. 

 Jarricus is also awesome away from school.  He has dazzled spectators at his football, baseball and basketball games since he was four-years-old, and he joined the United States Tennis Association when he was six.  He was selected to represent Atlanta as an all-star in the 2013 baseball state tournament, and last week he served on the royal court during his football team’s homecoming game.

The national PTA has recognized Jarricus as a budding literary star by awarding him second place in literature in their national Reflections contest.

Despite community changes and district transitioning, Jarricus has performed well in all of his pursuits. His father, who has coached him in all of his extra-curricular endeavors, says out of all of Jarricus’s accomplishments he is most proud of Jarricus’s steady ‘A’ average, which has kept him on the Principal’s List since kindergarten.    

The devoted father says, “I am truly proud of Jarricus…throughout all the transitioning, he has truly been a rose that grew from the concrete.” 

Continue to grow Jarricus, and keep up the great work!

October 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm 1 comment

Student Spotlight of the Week

sirName: Sir Amos

Grade: 4th Grade

School: Bethune Elementary

Sir Amos is a hardworking fourth grader at Bethune Elementary School.  Sir has a distinct passion for science, and he enjoys learning new things each day.

Sir was recently awarded the Citizenship Award at Bethune Elementary.  He always exhibits good citizenship skills and serves as a productive and caring student. Sir is currently on the Honor Roll, and he is striving to be on the Principal’s List by the end of the first nine weeks.

Sir says he is motivated to do well in school because his parents encourage him to do his best. Additionally, he enjoys being recognized for high academic achievement and the incentives he receives from doing well in school.

Beyond academics, Sir is also involved in many activities at school including the Eagles Speak Club, Robotics Club, Reading Bowl team, and he plays football at a local recreation center. In his free time Sir enjoys archery, learning about computer science, and making things out of wood.

Even in elementary school, Sir is already planning his collegiate future. He recently went on a college tour in Pennsylvania to visit Valley Forge Military Academy and College. During his tour he learned the daily routines of military life including where the soldiers eat, sleep, and purchase essential items. Sir learned about the differences between military life and civilian life throughout his visit, and he is now considering a future occupation in the U.S. Army.

daylaName: Dayla Webster

Grade: 5th Grade

School: Finch Elementary

Dayla Webster, a fifth grader at Finch Elementary,  is an enthusiastic student with a positive outlook and attitude in the classroom. Dayla is always eager to learn new concepts and ideas, and her creativity exudes through hands-on projects.  Additionally, she is very thorough and pays great attention to detail.

Dayla’s teachers describe her as self-motivated and attentive in class, which has helped her achieve her goal of  being on the Principal’s Honor Roll throughout her elementary school years.

Dayla’s fifth grade teacher, Ms. Gurley, noticed her exemplary academic performance when she was in the fourth grade.

“I was very impressed with how she handled herself as a young lady and how she performed in the classroom,” Ms. Gurley stated. “Since Dayla entered my classroom, she has done everything I have expected of her and more.  She comes to class prepared and ready to learn, and she is very open-minded about exploring new things.”

Dayla’s parents are her greatest motivation, and they continue to emphasize the importance of academic excellence.  Dayla is a respectable and dedicated leader who serves as a positive role model and great example of character to her classmates. Dayla’s favorite subjects are math, reading, and language arts, and she aspires to become a doctor or an actress in the future.

IMG_2188Name: Zoe Green

Grade: Kindergarten

School: Whitefoord Elementary

As a kindergartener, Zoe is a star student at Whitefoord Elementary for her impressive reading skills, creativity, leadership, and strong focus in school. Zoe is a talented reader, and already reads on a second grade level. She is comfortable with reading the books out loud, and reads as often as she can. She loves to read about frogs and toads, because they are her “favorite things,” and enjoys making the sounds they make. “I like when they ribbit, and I learned that they make a lot of noise, and they teach me how to be a good friend,” Zoe says.

Zoe’s other talent is creating writing. She writes stories about herself in different situations with her vivid imagination. “Once I wrote a story where I was a worker at Macy’s and Dollar General,” Zoe says.

Zoe displays leadership at her school, by helping other students around her and always finishes her schoolwork on time. She hopes to become a doctor when she grows up like her mother.

“She’s one of my eager readers, and reads many books about frogs and toads,” says Mileeka Frank, Media Specialist at Whitefoord. “She is also loves Dr.Seuss books, and is an all-around great leader in school, even as a kindergartener.”

Name:  Vashti Byrd  IMG_2876

Grade:  11th

School:  Coretta Scott King (High School)

When she was eight, her biggest challenge was remembering not to yell-out in class.  At 12, she was challenged with being a responsible dog owner.   And today, at 16, Vashti Byrd finds herself facing what she calls her biggest challenge yet – surviving her first year enrolled in all Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  The CSK junior realizes that things have definitely changed since third grade.

“I was goofy when I was younger,” says Vashti, laughing at the memory of her childhood antics. “I was so silly – I was always laughing – even when there was absolutely nothing to laugh at!”

Vashti began shedding some of that silliness as the years passed, but the teenager believes her true evolution began when she entered 10th grade.  As proof of this, she points to her work in JROTC, an organization she joined in ninth grade.

“I’ve wanted to be in JROTC since eighth grade.  At first it was all about wearing the uniform,” says Vashti, “But in 10th grade I worked hard and got a lot more responsibility; then it was about the leadership, the service and citizenship.”

Vashti’s academic performance also changed.  She went from finishing her ninth-grade year in the top 10 percent of her class to finishing 10th grade as one of the top 10 students in her class.

The ‘CSK experience’ keeps Vashti busy throughout the year.  She believes this one-of-a-kind high school experience has transformed her into a focused, high-achieving student while giving her plenty of opportunities to have fun.

The varsity cheerleader is a member of the Beta Club, the CSK basketball team and softball team, and an athletic trainer – a job that requires her to patch up injured CSK and B.E.S.T. Academy athletes during football, basketball and soccer games.

When she explains her impressive 30-year-life plan, Vashti details how she will combine the two things she loves most — healing the human body, and participating in JROTC— to pursue a career as a military doctor.

Vashti’s biotech teacher, Nicole Chapman calls Vashti a leader who exemplifies the skills and abilities of a dedicated and determined young lady.  Chapman adds, “Vashti is definitely creating a legacy for herself.”

October 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

Student Spotlight of the Week

IMG_0938Name: Terrisianna & Terrianna Taylor

Grade: 8th Grade

School: Crawford W. Long Middle

Terrisianna Taylor and Terrianna Taylor are twins who have a variety of interests, but are both very ambitious with their education and careers. They have a younger brother who they love very dearly, and enjoy attending school at Crawford Long Middle School.

Terrisianna is a caring, silly, and intelligent student who is in the gifted program. Her short-term goal is to pass the 8th grade and achieve high CRCT scores, and her long-term goal is to attend a great college and become a successful journalist or veterinarian. Terrisianna loves to write stories, has a strong passion for animals, and is very motivated in her schoolwork.

“I want my goals and future aspiration to come true, so I’m going to make it happen by working hard and doing well in school,” she says.

With her ambition and confidence, she is looking forward to a bright and successful future ahead.

Terrianna is a playful, active, and determined student. She loves to draw different characters, and read books about romance and mysteries. Her favorite subject is social studies, as she is really interested in the world. School is one of her top priorities and she takes it very seriously.

“School is where I really feel comfortable at doing my best,” Terrianna says.

She exceeded in every section of the CRCT last year, and is planning to do the same this year. Terrianna is a cheerleader, a Tigerette, and a member of the dance team at school. Her future aspirations are to become a successful in life and have a job that she is passionate about.

AlexandraWarrenName: Alexandra Warren

Grade: 4th Grade

School: Hope-Hill Elementary 

Alexandra is an intelligent, well-behaved, and talented student at Hope-Hill Elementary School. She excels in reading, and receives A’s on all of her reading tests. “It’s important to read because it helps you increase for vocabulary,” she says. Reading also expanded her spelling skills, as she participated in last year’s spelling bee and placed runner up!  “I liked the spelling bee and can spell more than fifty words,” Alexandra says. “Reading helps with spelling because if you can’t spell a word, you can’t read it.”

Alexandra’s favorite subject is math, and especially enjoys solving multiplication problems. She is very active and enjoys playing basketball and riding her skateboard. Alexandra hopes to become a veterinarian when she grows up because of her love for animals and is looking forward to working with them everyday.

According to her teacher Michelle McDaniel, Alexandra is truly a young lady with intrinsic motivation, and maximizing every educational experience is her priority.


Photo taken by Neighbor Newspapers

Name: Kyah Dumas

Grade: 9th Grade

School: Therrell High School- STEMS

When you hear about Kyah Dumas the words “scholar, student, and athlete” come to mind. Kyah Dumas, a freshman at Therrell High School-STEMS, is a force on and off of the field. When she isn’t exhibiting her athletic ability on the mound, she works hard to excel in academics.

Scholarship and sports are two things Kyah does not take lightly. She is determined to give her all in both areas.

Kyah has been playing softball since the age of seven. She is destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps as her mom was once a star player on Therrell’s softball team as well.

Kyah is also a star on her travel softball team, the Milford Legend. She and her Milford Legend teammates have participated in the world series for the past two years.  But, her triumphs don’t stop there. On September 24th Kyah helped lead the Therrell softball team to victory as the number one seed in the region. Over the next few weeks her team will begin preparing for the playoffs.

Kyah was recently featured in the Neighbor Newspapers as the Female Athlete of the Week. Congratulations, Kyah, on your wonderful achievements!

Excerpt from the Neighbor Newspapers:

Kyah Dumas’ transition on the softball field from Bunche Middle School to Therrell High has been seamless.

In her first seven appearances on the mound this season, Dumas is 4-1 with 42 strikeouts.

“She definitely has had an impact on the mound,” Therrell assistant coach Paul Perriman said. “She is doing what I would expect a senior to do. She has taken a leadership role and that is a good direction to be headed in.”

“I love pitching,” said Dumas, who throws an effective change-up.

Perriman also noted that Dumas’ success on the mound is due to her chemistry with junior catcher Courtney Hayes.

“Kyah and Courtney work it out when to throw inside or outside,” Perriman said. “When to throw the fastball or the change-up.”

Currently, the Lady Panthers are 7-5-2 overall and 3-0-1 in sub-region 6B-AAAA, which was something Dumas was hoping for coming into her freshman season.

“I wanted to lead my team to a lot of wins because I don’t like to lose,” she said.

At Bunche, Dumas helped the Lady Chargers win back-to-back championships. According to the Atlanta Public Schools website, Dumas was also named 2012 Softball Player of the Year.

“I think if we limit our mistakes, focus and don’t get down if we lose, we will okay the rest of the way,” Dumas said.

-Article featured in Neighbor Newspapers

Read more: Neighbor Newspapers – Female Athlete of the Week Kyah Dumas THERRELL

Name:  Quantrell Calip IMG_4930

Grade:  3rd Grade

School: F.L. Stanton Elementary School

Even standing on his toes, third-grader Quantrell Calip falls shy of four-feet-tall.  But, as the saying goes, big things come in small packages, and Quantrell never fails to make a huge impression on everyone he meets.

His teacher, Alayna Smith, grins when she attempts to describe Quantrell, and eventually says, “You just have to meet him; once you meet him you’ll see what makes him special.”

In addition to being extremely studious, hardworking and well mannered, Quantrell – an A/B student – has a strong vocabulary, limitless imagination, and a remarkable talent for oral expression.  His curiosity and habit of speaking non-stop — almost forgetting to take a breath at times– reveal his excitement for learning, school and just being a kid.

“He’s like a little man trapped in a little boy’s body,” says Smith.  “He has such a big personality.”  Something Smith believes Quantrell inherited from his grandfather, who recently captivated Stanton students on Grandparents’ Day by reciting an animated and entertaining poem.

“I play games like ‘Army’ with my grandpa, too,” says Quantrell. “He was in the army, so he usually wins.  But, he isn’t as fast as me, so that gives me an advantage –plus, he doesn’t choose good hiding places, so I win sometimes.

“My grandpa told me a few stories about the army and he said it was hard.  But l want to be in the army when I grow up, so I can save the lives of others.  I also want to fly jets, or maybe drive tanks, or maybe both.”

Or, he might become a racecar driver, since he likes playing with Hotwheels, and he says drivers make a lot of money.  Then again, he could become an engineer, who “designs and builds things at construction sites” since he loves designing and building robots and tall buildings with Legos.

Quantrell’s favorite subject is math, and learning tools like base-10 blocks make learning math fun.  And he enjoys American history, too.

“This year, we learned about the war, the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and how he raced through town on a horse in the middle of the night warning everyone.  It was a very exciting time,” says the third-grader.

Quantrell recently played Arrow in the classroom play, “The Strongest One.” His class also attended an acting workshop taught by actors from the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

With his gift of gab, creative mind, math skills and love for building and problem solving, Quantrell Calip is a rising star, and when it comes to his future, the sky is the limit.

September 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm 1 comment

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