CCSD's Valedictorians and Salutatorians are pictured from left to right beginning with Cherokee High School.
The Cherokee County School District and School Board celebrated the Class of 2021 Valedictorians and Salutatorians at its 21st Annual Scholar Recognition Banquet.
The special event on Wednesday evening 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.
“This has been a school year like no other, but you did not let the challenges stop you from reaching your goals,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said in his remarks. “Congratulations – we’re so proud of you.”
The students and teachers each shared a brief speech, and Dr. Hightower presented each student with an iPad, $50 gift card and plaque, and each teacher with a plaque and $100 gift card.
The remarks by students shared common threads, as they praised their teachers for taking a personal interest in them, encouraging them and mentoring them. “She reminded me and showed me I had potential, even when I didn’t believe it,” River Ridge High School Salutatorian Aarya Kothari said of her honored teacher, Henley Sawicki. “Thank you for believing in me and teaching me to believe in myself.”
The remarks by teachers also often echoed, as teachers recounted the dedication the students showed to their studies, and their willingness to help other classmates learn and to make their school and community a better place. “He’s one of the best students I’ve ever had, and one of the best human beings I know,” Woodstock High School teacher Henry Oglesby said of Salutatorian Arnav Sharma.
The dinner and gifts were made possible by donations from Presenting Sponsors, LGE Community Credit Union and the Cherokee County Educational Foundation (CCEF); Platinum Sponsor, Poole’s Insulation Company; and Silver Sponsor, EyeMed. LGE additionally presented each student with an iPad cover and each teacher with a journaling set.
Scott Pederson, LGE’s Marketing, Business Development and Community Relations director, and Kevin Williams, CCEF’s board vice president and owner of Chick-fil-A of Canton, shared sponsor remarks during the program.
Mr. Pederson encouraged the students to regularly ask themselves three questions -- “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” and “How am I going to get there?” – as they continue on their path to even greater successes. Mr. Williams reminded the students of their role as leaders and the positive impact they have on others: “You are changing perspectives. You’re helping us see things we couldn’t see before.”
CHEROKEE HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Baker Brown
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study industrial engineering
Honored teacher: Eric Jones, AP Calculus teacher
In his teacher’s words: Baker, Mr. Jones said, is a student of “grace and finesse” with an impressive desire to learn and who “always has been humble, kind and compassionate.”
Salutatorian Harrison Russ
College and career plans: University of North Carolina to study finance and then law school to pursue a career in corporate finance with an emphasis on social impact investing
Honored teacher: Jon Gustin, AP Environmental Science teacher
In his teacher’s words: “He’s the hardest working individual I’ve ever met,” Mr. Gustin said, noting Harrison’s achievements in academics, activities and service are even more impressive knowing that he overcame a brain tumor. “He’s the definition of a student leader.”
CREEKVIEW HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Nathan William Davis
College and career plans: University of Georgia to study molecular biology and then medical school
Honored teacher: Jason Hardin, AP Chemistry teacher
In his teacher’s words: Nathan, Mr. Hardin said, is not only the most gifted problem-solver he’s taught, he’s also “the epitome of calm and grace.” “You have what it takes to make the world a better place … just by being who you are.”
Salutatorian Koryn Thanh Todd
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study aerospace engineering to pursue a career as an astronaut
Honored teacher: Brenda Guyer, AP World History teacher
In her teacher’s words: Koryn is among the top students she has ever taught, and what Ms. Guyer finds most impressive is her “quiet humility.” “I’m not sure she even realizes how special she is.”
ETOWAH HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Analise Black
College and career plans: Washington University in St. Louis to study anthropology and global studies
Honored teacher: Whitney Morberg, school counselor
In her teacher’s words: Ms. Morberg praised Analise for her humility and leadership by example. “She is exactly the kind of role model I want my own daughter to look up to.”
Salutatorian Sophia Stewart
College and career plans: U.S. Air Force Academy to study political science to pursue a career as a diplomat
Honored teacher: Lt. Col. Stephen Bergey, JROTC instructor
In her teacher’s words: Lt. Col. Bergey thanked Sophia for her dedication to earn a Congressional appointment to serve her Nation. “She will be writing a blank check to the people of America payable, if required, with her own life.”
RIVER RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Nicholas Audinet
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study computer science
Honored teacher: Casey Belli, AP Calculus teacher
In his teacher’s words: Nick, Mr. Belli said, is a one-of-a-kind student who “thinks in ways no one else does – and that’s what the world needs more of. He’s made me a better teacher and a better person.”
Salutatorian Aarya Kothari
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study neuroscience and then medical school to pursue a career as a pediatrician
Honored teacher: Henley Sawicki, Advanced Genetics and AP Biology teacher
In her teacher’s words: Ms. Sawicki said Aarya “continuously impresses” her teachers with her knowledge, dedication, compassion and maturity. “I can’t wait to see you change the world.”
SEQUOYAH HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Jeremy Jeong
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study material science and engineering
Honored teacher: Andy Oberlies, AP Calculus teacher
In his teacher’s words: Jeremy, Mr. Oberlies said, is amazing and “super smart,” but didn’t put in long hours just to earn excellent grades. “He cared about learning,” and cared so much about learning, he also would spend his free time tutoring to help classmates learn as well.
Salutatorian Bradley Gordon
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study biomedical engineering to pursue a medical career
Honored teacher: Dr. Wendy Roberts, AP Environmental Science teacher
In his teacher’s words: Bradley’s curious mind, resilience and willingness to help others made him a constant joy to have in class, Ms. Roberts said. “He could see things that weren’t obvious to me … and he is an encourager and cheerleader for his classmates.”
WOODSTOCK HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian Elizabeth Lawrence
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study civil engineering and architecture to pursue a career in construction design
Honored teacher: Kellie Baglio, Latin teacher
In her teacher’s words: Liz, Ms. Baglio said, has a “brilliance for all things, but Latin especially.” “She is one of those once-in-a-career-type of kids. I can’t wait to see where she goes and what she does.”
Salutatorian Arnav Sharma
College and career plans: Georgia Tech to study electrical engineering
Honored teacher: Henry Oglesby, AP Calculus teacher
In his teacher’s words: A brilliant mathematician and musician and “fantastic young man,” Arnav made a lasting impression on Mr. Oglesby. “He made me happy to be a teacher.”
CCSD's Valedictorians' and Salutatorians' honored teachers are pictured from left to right beginning with Cherokee High School.
Celebrating at the Scholars Banquet are, from left to right, front row: Cherokee HS Salutatorian Harrison Russ and Valedictorian Baker Brown, Creekview HS Salutatorian Koryn Thanh Todd, Etowah HS Salutatorian Sophia Stewart, River Ridge HS Salutatorian Aarya Kothari, Sequoyah HS Valedictorian Jeremy Jeong, Woodstock HS Salutatorian Arnav Sharma; back row: Creekview HS Valedictorian Nathan William Davis, Etowah HS Valedictorian Analise Black, River Ridge HS Valedictorian Nicholas Audinet, Sequoyah HS Salutatorian Bradley Gordon, Woodstock HS Valedictorian Elizabeth Lawrence.