Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Dawn Keevill-Carey holds her daughter Autumn, 5, beside Roger Carey while awaiting to see if their number is called, allowing Autumn to attend the New Life Academy of Excellence in Duluth Tuesday. Autumn's number was not one of the first 56 to be called.
DULUTH -- What got Keyauna McGee through the final hours leading up to Tuesday night?
"Lots of crossing fingers and lots of prayer," said the mother of five-year-old Kingston, whose number was the first called during the New Life Academy of Excellence charter lottery for students entering kindergarten.
The random-number procedure, which is widely used as an admission process for charter schools around the country, brought out nearly 100 people Tuesday night.
The group watched with tension as an assistant turned a crank on a large golden cylinder, tossing nearly 200 numbered wooden balls. Random numbers between 1 and 186 were called.
With only 56 spots open and 186 applicants, those whose numbers were called during the first 56 drawings considered themselves blessed, lucky, or a combination of the two.
Annie Woheel, for one, was ecstatic.
"So much joy right now," said Woheel, the mother of Julius, 5. "God has answered my prayers."
For those whose numbers were not called, the evening ended with sadness.
Dawn Keevill-Carey, the mother of five-year-old Autumn Carey, tried to keep her emotions in check following the lottery. Their number, 31, was not among the first 56 called.
"A lottery is a lottery, and we went into this knowing it," said Keevill-Carey. "It's unfortunate...but that's how it is. We're going to have to figure out now where she's going to school."
Students like Carey, whose numbers were not called during the first 56 drawings, are put on a waiting list for possible enrollment, should the parents of the students selected first decide their child won't attend.
All system charter schools operate under the law that if there are more applicants than slots available at the school, then a lottery process must decide who attends.
The local school district has five charter schools, including Maxwell, Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology, New Life, Ivy Prep and the online campus.
New Life Academy of Excellence, a K-8 charter school with an emphasis on the Chinese language, currently has 568 students. Among them are 98 kindergarten students.
Up and coming kindergarten students like Natalyah Matthews, 5, can hardly wait for the 2013-14 year.
Her number, 110, was called Tuesday night. Mother, Natasha, was thrilled. "The excitement has been building all week," she said.
Matthews said she wanted her daughter to attend New Life Academy "to equip her to be successful."
The McGee Family felt the same about five-year-old Kingston's first year of kindergarten. "It's very exciting," said mom, Keyauna. "This is an answer to prayers."
For more information about New Life Academy of Excellence and its programs of study, visit www.newlifeacademyga.com.