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GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: 12 seniors earn National Achievement Scholarships

Special Photo. Sugar Hill City Councilman Steve Edwards, from left, Lanier Middle School PTSA President Lisa Ramsay and Lanier Middle School principal Jaime Espinosa present Lanier High School principal Kerensa Wing and athletic director Bill Wells with a $5,000 check. The proceeds were raised during the inaugural Lanier Longhorn Golf Tournament.

Special Photo. Sugar Hill City Councilman Steve Edwards, from left, Lanier Middle School PTSA President Lisa Ramsay and Lanier Middle School principal Jaime Espinosa present Lanier High School principal Kerensa Wing and athletic director Bill Wells with a $5,000 check. The proceeds were raised during the inaugural Lanier Longhorn Golf Tournament.

A group of Gwinnett County Public Schools students on track to receive their high school diplomas this May were recently notified of additional financial assistance they will receive for their college education plans.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation named the 12 students as 2010 National Achievement Scholarship Winners. The students, part of the graduating class of 2010, represent seven different Gwinnett high schools: Brookwood, Collins Hill, Duluth, Grayson, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program honors and provides a one-time $2,500 scholarship to outstanding black high school students, considered as having the greatest potential for academic success in college.

This year's recipients are Michael S. Crooks of Peachtree Ridge High, Blake J. Elston of Mill Creek High, Erica S. Grimes of Mill Creek High, Cameron B. Johnson of Duluth High, Rachel C. Lewis of Grayson High, Wilson I. Omesiete of Grayson High, Taylor A. Phillips of Collins Hill High, Elisia D. Plunkett of Mill Creek High, Robert L. Smith of Brookwood High, Kenneth L. Sylvain of Duluth High, Tempestt A. Watts of Mill Creek High and Niara E. Wright of North Gwinnett High.

These students join about 800 outstanding black high school seniors across the nation who will receive scholarships totaling close to $2 million dollars. The scholarships are financed by grants from about 35 corporations and professional associations and by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The students qualified for consideration based on the results of the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists were designated within geographic regions as the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region. They advanced to the finalist level in the competition, submitting a detailed application, presenting a record of high academic performance throughout high school, receiving endorsements and recommendations by the school principal, and earning SAT scores that confirmed the PSAT/NMSQT performance.

Achievement scholar honorees were selected from the finalists judged to have the strongest record of accomplishments.

Teens graduate from Youth Challenge

Joshua Bradberry and Quindarius Morton, both of Dacula; Tempest Buttino, Ashley Padin, Walter Smalls Jr., Miguel Stankee, Shade Thompson and Andrew Tucker III, all of Lawrenceville; Anthony Carigo Jr. and Zaire Royal, both of Lilburn; Michael Cox, of Stone Mountain; Travis DeVore, of Loganville; Veily Ma, of Suwanee; and Chukwuemeka Nwokedi, of Snellville, are among 214 cadets who graduated from the Georgia National Guard's Youth Challenge Academy at Fort Gordon in March.

The 13 cadets completed the 22-week, in-residence program where cadets learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility together with completing necessary academic requirements to earn a GED or high school diploma.

Youth Challenge operates two campuses in Georgia. The original campus is located at Fort Stewart and opened in 1993. The second campus opened at Fort Gordon, near Augusta, in 2000. Together, both campuses have graduated more than 9,950 formerly at-risk students.

Each year more than 1,200 students apply for one of the four programs running concurrently at both Georgia campuses.

Applicants to Youth Challenge must be from 16 to 18 years old, a high school dropout or expelled, drug-free, have no felony convictions, and have a strong desire to change the course of their lives.

Lanier Middle presents Lanier High with check

As Lanier High School moves toward its August opening, the Lanier community is already showing its support for the new school and its athletics department.

In October, Lanier Middle School, in conjunction with its PTSA, hosted the inaugural Lanier Longhorn Golf Tournament. The proceeds from the tournament paid for new basketball uniforms for the middle school but also raised starter funds for the new high school.

Kerensa Wing, principal of Lanier High School, and Bill Wells, head football coach and athletic director, were recently presented with a $5,000 check from the tournament.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.