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I am APS: Kaydon Sims

by Allison M. Slocum

I am APS is a special series highlighting students, faculty, alumni, and others in celebration of the rich and diverse experiences, backgrounds and contributions within the Atlanta Public Schools family. Together, we stand in solidarity of our shared admiration of APS and the mission which guides us.

Kaydon Sims is an 8th grader at Crawford W. Long Middle School. Photo: Allison M. Slocum

Kaydon Sims is one of those young people who impress you instantly. Boasting a bright, dimpled smile and a firm handshake, this Crawford W. Long Middle School (Long) 8th grader has mastered the ability to learn and inform in the same conversation.

The youngest of five children, Sims belongs to a village of supportive parents, siblings and mentors who encourage him to pursue multiple interests and strive for greatness. He is a member of Long’s debate team, youth action team, and band, in which he plays the clarinet and participates in a program that allows him to occasionally march with South Atlanta High School’s Marching Hornets.

On November 9, he was one of several Atlanta Public Schools (APS) 8th graders awarded the prestigious REACH Georgia Scholarship, a $10,000 scholarship to attend any eligible, in-state college or university upon graduation from high school.

Kaydon Sims and his father signing the REACH Georgia Student and Parent Commitment. Photo: Allison M. Slocum

Sims is going places— literally. This school year alone he will be traveling on several school trips, including one to Tennessee State University’s homecoming, where Long’s band will perform in a parade, one to Washington D.C., where he and fellow students will learn about history and the government, and an educational trip to Savannah, GA.

Recently, Sims shared with us the value of making meaningful connections and his future plans to join the healthcare industry to make a difference in the lives of many.

Long Middle School’s 13-year-old 8th grader, REACH Scholarship recipient and future psychiatrist.

Do you have a favorite subject?

I do. Science. I love how we break down the elements that we use in our everyday [lives] like aluminum. Fluorine.

How does one break them down?

First, we look at the actual element itself. We look at the atomic mass, the atomic number, the protons, neutrons, and electrons. Also, the valence. Does it relate with the valence electron rule? So for example, aluminum. The atomic number may be 13, so that gives us the protons and the electrons. This is where the atomic mass comes in and where you put the atomic mass minus the atomic number, which gives us our neutrons. Now, we have our atom for aluminum.

Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?

I have. I would like to be a psychiatrist. There’s not a lot of people in the mental field, and I want to add on to their army. I want to understand the brain more.

Do you think that you’ve learned things in school so far that will help you become a psychiatrist?

Most definitely. We have a youth action team, which brings awareness to things that may not be seen as worthy. For example, recently [we focused on] suicide prevention. We made announcements. We had posters up saying how we can prevent [suicide]. We gave ways to ask yourself,  ‘Do you really need help?’ and things of that sort. We also do Social Emotional Learning (SEL), where we talk about anger management and how to de-escalate a situation instead of escalating it.

Kaydon Sims is a member of Long’s debate team, youth action team, and band. Photo: Allison M. Slocum

What impact has SEL had on you since it became a part of the curriculum?

When they started incorporating it in the curriculum it was like a weight off my shoulder. It makes me feel more comfortable. [And demonstrates] how we can relate to our friends and sometimes even our teachers, like, ‘How was your day?’

For example, with my English Language Arts teacher, we call it ‘High, Low, High’. Questions are asked [about your day] like ‘What was your high? What was your low?’ Someone actually asked me how I feel and how was my weekend. I can express myself and not just share the high parts, but also my lows.

Do you feel like you’re able to build meaningful connections while you’re in middle school?

I do feel like I’m building a lot of connections. I go to South Atlanta High School for marching band, so I’ve got connections with Mr. Lane, Mr. Richardson, our drill sergeant. Ms. Stinson, of course, as I do want to go into the mental and healthcare fields.

And also Ms. Barksdale. She helps me a lot with preparing how to articulate my words, how to be presentable. She also shares some of the past experience that she had in the [healthcare] field. I really enjoy listening to the stories because when I grow up, I want to be in the same position she is in. Especially Ms. Stinson as well. Dr. Jones as well. I know he’s the 7th grade counselor, but also he’s our sponsor for the Youth Action Camp. He organizes a lot of the events that we do, so I feel like I can also connect with him.

And just getting myself out there, not being shy. Doing a lot of extracurriculars like debate, Youth Action Team. I also do the morning announcements because I’m a good speaker.

Knowing that you want to be a psychiatrist, are you able to take ownership of your learning and steer your education towards things that will benefit you?

Actually my mentor and I were going over schools [recently]. Connections. She said, ‘Look at these high schools.’ They [have] what I’m looking for. For example Midtown, I know it’s far of course, but it’s also a possibility. There’s a possibility in everything. They have a club for clinical psychology. Also, being mentally aware. For example, like when I feel like I’m not on the track that I want to be on  because I’m on the track of the national [average]. I want to be ahead of that, I want to achieve. So oftentimes, I’ll stay for tutorial. Sometimes I’ll be the only person. But I’ve got to realize what I want to do, what I want to achieve. And use my connection.

Kaydon Sims is an 8th grader at Crawford W. Long Middle School. Photo: Allison M. Slocum

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