Grade: 8th Grade
School: Coan Middle School
Richard stands out as one of Coan Middle’s top students with his academic achievements, leadership, and excellent behavior. Last spring, he made a perfect score on the science section of the CRCT, and scored high in the other sections as well. He also made the Principal’s list four years in a row, and is looking forward to maintaining his academic achievement. His best skills include reading and memorizing lesson materials, and he especially enjoys learning hands on during science class.
Last year, Richard served as the SGA Vice President, and is looking for more opportunities to be involved with the school this year. He is a great role model for his peers, with his motivation and leadership capabilities.
Richard’s favorite subjects are math and science, and he hopes to become a mechanical engineer in the future. He loves to invent and build things, and plans to major in engineering in college. “I have to work hard and study hard in order to become a mechanical engineer,” Richard says.
Since kindergarten, Richard has been learning Spanish and is semi-fluent. He is able to speak Spanish comfortably to his friends, teacher, and grandmother. Richard has enjoyed learning a second language, and hopes to improve his proficiency.
Grade: 11th Grade
School: Mays High School
Makeda Phillips, an 11th grader at Benjamin E. Mays High School, had a fun-filled and impactful summer comprised of amazing field trips and memorable experiences.
Makeda was one of eight students chosen to serve as a student publisher for the Wren’s Nest.
By preserving the legacy of the famous author, Joel Chandler Harris, and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing, the Wren’s Nest serves as an educational resource for the community, the greater Atlanta area and visitors from around the globe.
During the summer, Makeda and her fellow student publishers worked tirelessly to create and publish a student literary journal. The students navigated the process from start to finish—including selecting the student work they would feature in the book and working with printers to obtain numerous copies of the finished product.
Additionally, one of Makeda’s poems was featured in the publication.
“This summer program taught me the importance of hard work and just how much effort it takes to publish a book,” Makeda explained. “It took a lot of time, organization and teamwork. It taught me about various perspectives of the journalism and publishing industries.”
During Labor Day weekend, the student publishers presented their literary journal, Smoke Signals, the seventh annual literary journal produced entirely by Atlanta-area high school students participating in the Wren’s Nest summer publishing program.
In addition to publishing her work, the program also afforded Makeda the opportunity to visit sites throughout Atlanta including the Creating Loafing offices, CNN Studios, and Turner Broadcasting.
Makeda aspires to continue crafting her writing skills. She is interested in a myriad of subjects, including science and film. She plans to choose a major that encompasses her passions upon graduating from Mays High School.
Makeda also produced a documentary about her summer experience. Watch the video below.
Grade: 5th Grade
School: Thomasville Heights Elementary School
Thomasville Heights 5th grade student, Kenyatta Lakes, is a young man full of smiles and ambition.
Currently in his last year of elementary school, he realizes that responsibility grows with age.
Although Kenyatta is proud of his foundation, he inspires to improve his community through leadership and tenacity. Even at his young age, Kenyatta has already shown signs of true humanitarianism through his annual tradition of donating his hair to cancer patients.
Yes, this elementary student grows his hair every year just to donate it. He is known throughout the school for his long and beautiful head of hair, although he prefers it short.
“It feels good when all of my hair is cut and I like it, but there are people in this world who need my hair so I will continue to grow it for them,” explains Kenyatta. “It feels good to help someone and put a smile on their face.”
Kenyatta’s new 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Turner, saw something special in him from the start.
“Kenyatta is a high -spirited, energized, intelligent young man who brings a wealth of knowledge to school each day,” she explained. “His knowledge is illustrated by his engaging conversations about life, keen abilities in math, and strong leadership. As a teacher, it is my pleasure and honor to be a part of Kenyatta’s life,” said Mrs. Turner with a big smile.
Kenyatta believes that getting an education and being a good person is the key to being successful and happy in life.
He hopes to motivate and encourage more students to become responsible and help others. If he continues to lead by example there is no doubt that others will follow in his footsteps.
Grade: 5th Grade
School: Usher-Collier Heights Elementary School
Liberty Jones is a teacher’s dream student. The boldly unique fifth-grader is sharp as a tack, determined and reliable, and disciplined beyond her years. And for Liberty, self-discipline entails much more than classroom behavior; discipline is a way of life that keeps her focused, pushes her along when she gets stuck, motivates her to do what she says she will do, and ultimately leads her to success.
“I like the discipline and order at this school,” she says. She adds that she wants to attend military school when she leaves Usher-Collier Heights.
Before enrolling at Usher-Collier as a fourth-grader, Liberty attended a charter school, and prior to that she attended a private school. But according to her, Usher-Collier is “the best school I’ve ever been in.”
“My other schools didn’t have the discipline like they have here,” says Liberty. “These teachers make sure everyone follows directions, and they know how to make school fun.”
As an example, the Challenge student points to her favorite class, math.
She says, “ The teacher makes learning things like using parenthesis and exponents challenging and fun; I always want to solve more problems, and I always study — I never give up. And if the teacher says jump, I don’t complain, I just ask how high?”
Her math teacher, Dorris Howard, has recognized Liberty’s enthusiasm for learning, and describes her as a hard working, determined and caring problem solver who enjoys helping her classmates and teachers.
“Liberty is extremely disciplined,” says Howard. “When she puts her mind to something, she gets it done.”
Since arriving at Usher-Collier, Liberty has “put her mind” to playing basketball and football, cheerleading, and dancing after school.
She also has a big heart for service. Liberty travels regularly to cities around the U.S. with church members and her family to help the homeless and the less fortunate.
As far as her future is concerned, Liberty says several careers come to mind, and professional football player is at the top of the list. If that doesn’t pan out, she says she will join the Navy, become a “professional math teacher,” or dance professionally.
Usher-Collier Heights Principal Gregory Parks says, “Liberty is truly a great student leader and advocate for Usher Collier Elementary School. She has garnered the respect of her teachers and classmates. Also, she has a tremendous work ethic and persistence to achieve short and long term goals.”