Name: La’Sonya Durham
Grade: 5th Grade
School: M. Agnes Jones Elementary
La’Sonya Durham, a 5th grader at M. Agnes Jones Elementary, has truly triumphed in the face of adversity. La’Sonya was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was in first grade. As a result of the surgery, she became blind, forcing her to learn a new way of reading and writing in the form of braille.
“Every material she uses must be in braille,” explains Mr. Brantley, La’Sonya’s braille teacher. “La’Sonya has come a long way since her surgery and always wants to be a part of everything in the classroom, never letting her disability affect her.”
Even with the school’s immense size, LaSonya manages to maneuver the long hallways and stairs independent of anyone’s help. Last year, she competed in the Braille Challenge, which is a competition for the blind, and she looks forward to competing again this year.
La’Sonya’s favorite subject is math, and she loves to sing and write. When asked who inspires her to excel in school, she simply stated, “my mom”. La’Sonya’s career goal is to one day become a lawyer.
According to La’Sonya’s 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Holloway, La’Sonya can think more abstractly than most of the children in her classroom.
“She is an outstanding citizen and a positive influence in the classroom,” said Mrs. Holloway. “La’Sonya is engaged in cooperative groups and interacts in regular classroom conversations and activities. It is a pleasure to see the effort that she puts forth in class daily.”
Name: N’Kajah Finnie
Grade: 5th Grade
School: Perkerson Elementary
Introducing N’Kajah Finnie, who is the voice of Perkerson Elementary School. N’Kajah is a fifth grade student who lends her powerful voice to the daily announcements at Perkerson. N’Kajah has also been the voice of electronic invitations at other schools.
N’Kajah joins the Perkerson family for the first time this year. She is off to an excellent start. N’Kajah is a member of the Perkerson Chapter of the Junior Beta Club, an honor society. As a member of the Junior Beta Club, she helps to lead community service efforts at Perkerson. This year, she helped to collect can goods and turkeys to feed more than thirty families over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
N’Kajah is the first place winner in the Perkerson One Academic Fair this year. We are very proud of her. Her project will now move on to the district fair. Good luck N’Kajah!
We are excited about what awaits N’Kajah in the future. Her career goal is to become a doctor. We are certain that greatness lies in her path. She will be taking appointments in the near future.
Name: Tequila Chase
Grade: 12th Grade
School: Crim Open Campus
With only a few months before graduation, Tequila Chase has a burning desire to serve her country. She plans on joining the army and study nursing after graduating next spring. “People have helped me get to this point, so I want to give back a little,” Tequila says. “Even if it is putting a band-aid on someone or helping a sprained ankle, I want to help people, because people helped me.” She is looking forward to studying nursing and wants to travel outside of Georgia. Tequila’s goal is to help others, and as long as she can bring joy to others, she says, “that’s more than enough.”
Tequila is overwhelmed at the thought of graduation around the corner. She wants to jump up and down while bursting, “I did it!” She remembers those who said she couldn’t do it, and is happy to prove them wrong. The thought of her brother has kept her moving forward, as he is the drive behind her motivation. She never wants to give up, because he would not want her to. “I know my brother is watching me and is proud of me,” Tequila says.
School: Scott Elementary
In December 2010, Elizabeth Eason and her family returned home from church to find their presents under the Christmas tree torn open, and some were even missing. A real-life Grinch had tried to steal Christmas from Elizabeth’s family. Other homes on her street suffered the same pre-Christmas day fate. And although Elizabeth managed to have a merry Christmas that year, she never forgot the disappointment she felt from the Christmas that almost wasn’t.
This episode was one of several things that bothered Elizabeth about her neighborhood. She decided to make her concerns known, and last month the fifth-grader wrote a letter to President Obama expressing her thoughts about the state of affairs in her community.
Elizabeth demonstrates this sort of self-motivated, take-charge attitude regularly. Her fifth-grade teacher, Seretha Lovett, says that when it comes to schoolwork, she never has to tell Elizabeth what to do; Elizabeth just does it.
Not only does Elizabeth just do it, but when she does it, she goes over and beyond what is expected. As proof of this, Lovett points to Elizabeth’s recent science project.
“Her project definitely stood out,” says Lovett. It was beyond fifth grade work—it was middle school or even high school level work. It was outstanding.”
“The best part of the project was presenting it to the class,” Elizabeth says. “I liked telling how I used clay and glitter to make the cell and explaining the parts of the cell to everyone.”
According to Lovett, Elizabeth also likes to explain class lessons to her peers to help them understand. And if they don’t understand, Elizabeth does not give up.
“She says things like, “Come on, you can do it,” and, “What do you need to help you understand better?” states Lovett. “She expects her classmates to put forth the same effort she does.”
“Elizabeth is a leader in the classroom, a ‘re-teacher,’ a motivator and a peer tutor,” Lovett says.
Elizabeth—a Challenge student—also plays flute in the school band, sings in her church choir and will soon participate in Scott’s newly formed Math League.
Click on the link below to view Elizabeth’s letter to the president.