Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates the Cherokee County School District’s Class of 2018 Valedictorians and Salutatorians, from left to right, front row: Woodstock HS Valedictorian Sasha Stogniy, Sequoyah HS Valedictorian Alyssa Cagle, River Ridge HS Salutatorian Emma Harrison, Creekview Salutatorian Gracen Wallace, Cherokee HS Valedictorian Emily Endozo, River Ridge HS Valedictorian Simon Yang; back row: Sequoyah HS Salutatorian Mollie McNeil, Etowah HS Valedictorian Joseph Young, Etowah HS Salutatorian Samuel Wysocki, Creekview HS Valedictorian Bryce Goodwyn, Cherokee HS Salutatorian Travis Main, and Woodstock HS Salutatorian Taylor Shepard.
The Cherokee County School District and School Board honored the Class of 2018 Valedictorians and Salutatorians during the 18th Annual Scholar Recognition Banquet.
The evening at the Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility auditorium on Wednesday was attended by the Scholars and their parents; the teacher each Scholar chose as the most influential in his or her education; CCSD’s high school Principals; the Superintendent of Schools and members of his senior staff; and the School Board.
“As the soccer legend Pele said, ‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and, most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.’ None of you are here tonight by accident; you are here because of hard work, sacrifice and love,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer told the scholars during her remarks, adding that praise also is due to their teachers and the students’ parents, “who have been there every step of the way.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower continued this theme in his remarks, encouraging the scholars to maintain that spirit no matter the challenges they encounter in life.
“I fondly remember my top students, who, like you, delighted in learning and in pushing themselves to learn more and do better each day. The most successful people possess that trait, and they never let go of it… they’re always learning and always striving to do their best,” he said. “As you walk across the stage at graduation and begin the next chapter of your lives, we will be cheering you on and wishing you great success at college, in your careers and in your lives.”
Following dinner, the guests heard speeches by the Scholars and their favorite teachers. The students and teachers were congratulated by the Superintendent and School Board, and each student received an iPad, $50 gift card and plaque. Each teacher received a plaque and $100 gift card.
The dinner was made possible by a donation from Presenting Sponsor, LGE Community Credit Union, which additionally presented each student with an iPad cover and each teacher with a Yeti tumbler. Chris Leggett, CEO/President of LGE Community Credit Union, shared sponsor remarks during the program.
“The potential in this room is limitless,” Mr. Leggett told the top graduates during his remarks.
The gifts of iPads and gift cards were made possible by donations from the following sponsors: Platinum Sponsor, Poole’s Insulation Company; Gold Sponsors, Curriculum Associates, Brown & Brown Insurance of Georgia, NOVA Engineering & Environmental, TNT Fleet Supply, LLC and Traditions Turf Management, Inc.; Silver Sponsors, EF Education First, Eyemed, Invo-Progressus and True Natural Gas.
The Scholars and their honored teachers are:
Valedictorian: Emily Endozo, who will study mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech
Honored teacher: Julian Woodward, AP History. “Throughout high school, he was not only a teacher, but a guidance counselor I could come to any time of the day for support.”
In her teacher’s words: “What really sets her apart is the passion and determination she starts each day with. She helped me grow as a person and a teacher.”
Salutatorian: Travis Main, who will study computer science at the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech and hopes to pursue a career in computer science
Honored teacher: Eric Jones, AP Calculus. “I enjoy how passionate he is about his subject (calculus).”
In his teacher’s words: “His intellect is so far above anyone I’ve ever taught. What makes him so incredible though is his thirst for knowledge… and persistence; he makes the time to truly perfect it.”
Valedictorian: Bryce Goodwyn, who will study at Anderson (S.C.) University to pursue a career in civil defense law and also will play for the university soccer team
Honored teacher: Wendy McCarron, AP Calculus. “The way she taught made me feel more confident in the subject.”
In his teacher’s words: “I love the fact that Bryce loves to help his classmates. I’ve been teaching 26 years, and he has set the bar really high for the students yet to come.”
Salutatorian: Gracen Wallace, who will study computer science at Georgia Tech and hopes to pursue a career in software development for a major technology company
Honored teacher: Jason Hardin, AP Chemistry. “I always knew I could ask him questions, talk to him, complain to him… and he’d give me advice.”
In her teacher’s words: “She’s the most gifted student I’ve ever had come through my classroom. She stands up for what she believes in, and I’m honored to know her.”
Valedictorian: Joseph Young, who will study chemical engineering at Georgia Tech
Honored teacher: Dr. Brian Heglund, AP Physics. “He had a way of making class fun to come to. I knew him to be a very dependable person in my life.”
In his teacher’s words: “In my 10 years teaching AP Physics, I’ve never taught a valedictorian as a junior. He was able to bypass Physics I and go straight to the advanced work and succeed.”
Salutatorian: Samuel Wysocki, who will study biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and is considering a career in the pharmaceutical field
Honored teacher: Rebecca Schwartz, AP History. “She knows her material so well.”
In his teacher’s words: She spoke not only of his success in her class, but how he raised $9,000 for children battling cancer and interned at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “He wanted to help kids and pay back what they did for him. He’s truly one of a kind and a role model.”
River Ridge HS
Valedictorian: Simon Yang, who will study mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech and hopes to work for NASA
Honored teacher: Tracye Bulger, AP English. “She’s an amazing teacher, who cares about all her students. Thank you for always being there for me like a second mother.”
In his teacher’s words: “We live in this world where it’s always about results or scores, but Simon doesn’t lose sight of the process. He really cares about learning and integrity.”
Salutatorian: Emma Katherine Harrison, who will study chemistry with pre-med intent at the University of Georgia
Honored teacher: Joy Clarkston, AP Government. “I’m grateful for her friendship. She’s always been there for me to talk to.”
In her teacher’s words: “She’s an absolute academic student, but she has a casual approach about her. She’s a dream.”
Valedictorian: Alyssa Cagle, who will study biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia and hopes to work as a physician
Honored teacher: Coach Derrick Dewitt, who coached Alyssa in basketball. “A coach can have just as firm an impact on a student as an academic teacher. He’s taught me how to be a leader.”
In her teacher’s words: “She has commitment some people will never know and always is cool under pressure. She’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached.”
Salutatorian: Mollie McNeil, who will study global economics and international affairs at Georgia Tech and hopes to work for an international sports organization
Honored teacher: Dr. Wendy Roberts, AP Science. “Whether I needed a spoon or advice, she was always there for me.”
In her teacher’s words: “She’s the best of both,” she said, referring to her academic dedication and sense of humor. “It’s been a true pleasure watching her grown in her own skin.”
Valedictorian: Sasha Stogniy, who will study biochemistry at the University of Georgia and hopes to attend medical school and work as a surgeon
Honored teacher: Kelly Burke, AP Physics. “She is incredibly encouraging.”
In her teacher’s words: “I got to know Sasha as a person. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned more from her on certain subjects than she’s learned from me.”
Salutatorian: Taylor Shephard, who will study mathematics and data analytics at Georgia Tech
Honored teacher: Dr. Derek Engram, AP History. “He reminded me that learning should be fun.”
In her teacher’s words: “She’s made me a better teacher. Her steadfast determination shows me she’ll be successful in everything she will do.”