Friday, February 6th, 2015
Roberts Elementary Principal Dion Jones poses for a picture with, from left, Dianne Thompson, director of advisement and counseling with Gwinnett County Schools, Roberts counselors Stacey Miller and Marian Kalvert. Jones on Thursday was given the district’s Advocate of the Year award for school counseling. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
SUWANEE — It’s time to make more room for another counseling award at Roberts Elementary.
Principal Dion Jones on Thursday was named the Advocate of the Year during a celebration of school counselors at the Gwinnett County Public Schools district office. Last year, Jones presented his own counselor, Stacey Miller, with a Counselor of the Year award.
Jones called the award a reflection of the work his school’s counselors do every day. This is the second full school year Roberts has a second counselor after Marian Kalvert joined the school on a part-time basis.
“It feels that our counselors won the award, they do the work, and I support what they do,” Jones said. “I give all the credit to them.”
Jones was among eight award recipients, including Danielle Graff of Jenkins Elementary, Vanita Moon of Snellville Middle, Kim Tepker of Duluth High and Robin Zorn of Mason Elementary.
Zorn, who won the Writer of the Year award, won last year’s National School Counselor of the Year award.
Miller and Kalvert said Jones gives them the time and resources to do their job, and he’s supported them adding programs that are dedicated to college and career or interventions, and develops his own ideas.
When Roberts realized he had the resources to add an assistant principal or a counselor, he chose a counselor because he knew about Miller’s vision for the program, and she couldn’t do that by herself.
Roberts Elementary Principal Dion Jones, left, poses with Gwinnett County Schools Associate Superintendent Kevin Tashlein after Jones was given the district’s Advocate of the Year award for school counseling. (Staff Photo: Gwinnett Daily Post Keith Farner)
“If we had some help, here are all the programs we can add on, we can expand what we’re already doing and help our attendance and improve test scores,” Miller recalls advocating to Jones. “At that point, he decided to add a school counselor, which in our school I know is very tough because we don’t have a lot of staff.”
Added Kalvert, “I just feel from him that he really believes in Stacey and I, and I really believe that we have his heart-felt trust. He has buy-in into what we’re doing. What sets him apart is this feeling of trust and support.”
Miller added that often students bring ideas to her, and Jones is usually open to them and signs off on them.
“We just make it happen,” said Miller, who is in her fifth year at Roberts and helped Jones open the school. “He just allows us to do our jobs.”
The school counts 15 counseling programs and plans to add another next year. That number is virtually unheard of on the elementary level, Miller said.
“We talk about where we are and where we’re headed,” Jones said. “What is the next thing we can add this year so we’re not overwhelmed, that’s going to help our kids. We want sustainability in the program. We try to add slowly.”
Adding Kalvert enabled the counselors to serve more students in smaller groups and divide the grade levels to have a greater impact, Jones said.
At Jenkins Elementary, Principal Dot Schoeller said Graff has organized a mentoring program with Georgia Gwinnett College students to work with fifth graders on their college plans.
She also has a knack for figuring out when to encourage a child to carry their load, and when to wrap her arms around them and ease their burden.
“She’s the kind of counselor every student wants, every administrator wants, every parent wants, and all of our students just love her,” Schoeller said.
At Snellville Middle, Moon created a PEP Club, which stands for People Encouraging People, which supports struggling students. Students in the club work with peer leaders, chart their academic growth and get the additional support.
She also has worked with the director of her school’s Junior Leadership Corps to facilitate a schoolwide anti-bullying program called SOAR, Self-esteem Occurs from Acceptance and Respect, which is aligned with other school goals.
“There is a high energy when she works with students,” Principal Katise Menchan said. “Whether she is in the classroom or just interacting with students in the hallway. Her smile provides encouragement and calmness in situations in which only her magic touch can heal.”
At Duluth High, Principal Anthony Smith said Tepker brings strength, discernment and expert skill into every situation.
“She builds strong relationships with students and instills within them the confidence that they can meet their potential and realize their dreams,” Smith said.
Counselors from Mulberry Elementary, Jones Middle, Parkview High and Shiloh High also received the 21st Century Comprehensive Counseling Award. It’s the second year the district has given the award, which recognizes outstanding, innovative programs that show evidence of counseling program advocacy and goals that use data to guide program design, delivery, and evaluation.
Counselors across Gwinnett have filled trophy cases in recent years with state and national awards.
Recent honorees include Jennifer Diaz, a finalist for 2015 National Counselor of the Year; Andrea Hodgin, a semifinalist for the 2015 national honor.
“When you think about some of the most difficult and delicate situations our schools face, counselors are almost always in the mix,” Smith said. “They’re always present in times of crisis, whether it be student crisis, teacher crisis or school crisis.”
Monday, February 2nd, 2015
Arica Gholston receives her 1st place trophy during Saturday’s GCAE/GCPS spelling bee at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Arica Gholston rises from her chair and walks across the stage to the microphone. The tiniest contestant of the spelling bee lowers the mic so that she’s able to speak into it. She must correctly spell two words before she can walk away a champion.
She looks calm and collected as she correctly spells the first word, “glasnost.” Only one word left, she spells v-e-r-b-o-t-e-n, “verboten.” It’s correct. The audience applauds as Gholston, the only fourth-grader among the 13 finalists, is named the winner of the 2015 Gwinnett County Public School Spelling Bee.
The young spelling champ said she was a little nervous because the words were more difficult than the ones she spelled at her school’s qualifying bee. Also, the words grew more difficult as the competition progressed.
“After the finals came, it went to all these wacko words, just harder and a lot harder to understand. It’s English and you never really know how it’s spelled unless you look at it. English has all these crazy rules and exceptions, ” Gholston said. “I just spell it like it sounds, if I don’t know.”
Gholston was cheered on by her mom Treva, grandfather Leslie Eure and her twin sister Lindsay, who was a finalist with Gholston during Head Elementary’s qualifying bee. According to Treva, Gholston has always been a good speller and learned to read when she was only 2 years old. Also, she has an exceptional memory.
“She probably has the best memory of anyone I’ve met in my life,” Treva said. “We’ve all been encouraging her and trying to help her study and get prepared, now we’ll just double up for the District Spelling Bee.”
The spelling champ is still an avid reader, recently becoming a fan of the “Harry Potter” series. She said reading helps enhance her spelling skills but she still has to practice to learn each word’s pronunciation. She also believes having a “photographic memory” is a big help.
It’s hard to believe that Gholston almost didn’t make it to the stage. She was one of three students that competed in an three-way tiebreaker for a spot on stage.
The GCPS spelling bee, sponsored by Gwinnett Daily Post, began at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at Central Gwinnett High School. Eighty-seven students in grades fourth through eighth representing schools across the county first took a written spelling contest. The 13 students with the top scores then moved on to the oral spelling contest, but not before the tie breaker took place for the last 13 spot. Three students, including Gholston, were given five additional words to spell in order to break the tie.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to make it past the tie breaker because I only got two words,” said Gholston, adding she felt more confident once she made it to the oral spelling contest because she recognized and had practiced many of the words.
The spelling bee lasted about an hour with students spelling words like contiguous, abysmal and obfuscate for seven rounds. Three students were knocked out in the first two rounds, and by round seven there were only four students left — eighth-grader Abigail Obeng-Marnu, seventh-grader Gautum Desai, eighth-grader Shawn Im and fourth-grader Arica Gholston.
Desai and Im were knocked out in the sixth round, leaving Obeng-Marnu and Gholston to battle it out for the win. After Obeng-Marnu misspelled the word “jeremiad,” Gholston spelled the next two words correctly, earning the top spot. All the contestants were given a trophy and cash prizes, with runner-up Obeng-Marnu receiving $75 and Gholston being awarded $200.
All 13 finalists will need to keep their spelling skills sharp as they move on to the District 3 Spelling Bee, which will take place on Feb. 28 at Barrow County Schools Professional Development Center.
- Winner — Arica Gholston, 4th, Head Elementary School
- Runner Up — Abigail Obeng-Marnu, 8th, Crews Middle School
- Rucker Robinson, 7th, North Gwinnett Middle School
- Ryan Tay, 8th, Trickum Middle School
- Martin Lachev, 6th, Pinckney Middle School
- Imiri David, 8th, Osborne Middle School
- Gautum Desai, 7th, Duluth Middle School
- Fotikhjon Karimov, 8, Radloff Middle School
- Rebecca Shaefer, 7th, Creekland Middle School
- Shawn Im, 8th, Hull Middle School
- Nimra Khan, 8th, Shiloh Middle School
- Albert Doan, 5th, Suwanee Elementary School
- Colyne Massey, 8th, Twin Rivers Middle School
Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
Peachtree Ridge High School alum and GCPS Foundation Brannan Scholarship recipient, Mehul Bhagat.
A Peachtree Ridge High alumnus is one step closer to winning $1 million by representing Emory University in a competition in Dubai.
Mehul Bhagat is a first-year Robert W. Woodruff Scholar at Emory and leading a team from the College of Arts and Sciences and Goizueta Business School in the sixth annual Hult Prize Challenge. Bhagat’s team recently advanced to the regional finals of the competition, which is considered the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good.
The Hult Prize gives entrepreneurs from around the world a platform to innovate and revolutionize the way society thinks about servicing the poor. Each team selected was chosen from more than 20,000 applications received from more than 500 colleges and universities in over 150 countries. The Hult Prize regional final competitions will take place on March 13 and 14 in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai.
The competition is in partnership with President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, the innovative crowdsourcing platform identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges.
“For so long I have been drawn to the idea that education is the silver bullet,” Bhagat said in a press release. “It’s such a beautiful idea. But it needs to be more than just an idea. That means we need to invest in education, to prioritize innovation, to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of people all across the globe.”
Bhagat’s team will work over the next two months to prepare their pitch to expand access to early childhood education.
The 2015 Hult Prize will focus on building start-ups that provide sustainable, high quality early education solutions to ten million children under the age of six in urban slums and beyond by the year 2020.
Following the regional finals, one winning team from each host city will move into a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch and scale their new ventures. A final round of competition will be hosted by Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September, where CGI delegates will select a winning team, which will be awarded the prize by Clinton himself.
Monday, January 26th, 2015
Construction workers at the new high school on Old Norcross Road in Lawrenceville have completed the athletics facilities, while the main building classroom portion is about 95 percent complete with the balance of the building in the finishing stage. The school is expected to open in August with between 700 and 900 students. (Gwinnett Daily Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
It’s what they hope students take away after walking through its doors, and now it will be on the front of the building.
The new high school in Lawrenceville, scheduled to open in August, will be called Discovery.
“This is a very unusual school and many of the programs going on at this particular school will have a different look about them,” Gwinnett School Board member Carole Boyce said. “The building itself does, and we anticipate that our students will have exciting and unusual and very progressive type programs through their learning environment.”
It was announced in November that the principal of the new high school, which will relieve Berkmar and Central Gwinnett high schools, is John Campbell, the principal of Osborne Middle and the longest tenured principal in Gwinnett.
The new high school has a list of entrepreneurial and personal finance programs and curriculum not seen in Gwinnett, and only sparingly offered in doses across the state. It will also host students from across the county to learn about personal finance and business principles.
The school will be the district’s 19th cluster high school and will feature an entrepreneurship center, two Junior Achievement of Georgia programs for middle school students called JA BizTown and JA Finance Park.
That “free enterprise vigor” that causes people to provide jobs and entrepreneurial spirit is one of the founding principles of this country, said CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks.
The building covers 650,000 square feet and is a former warehouse once occupied by Bridgestone Tire, but was not in operation when the district purchased the property in 2005 for $6.7 million. Construction cost to make the new school is $63.5 million.
The school is projected to eventually host 2,000 students, but next school year will have between 700 and 900 students.
Monday, January 26th, 2015
NG3 staff members Javier Munoz, Thomas Jannett, Matt Williams, Jon Stinchcomb, Michael Woelfl, and Dustin Mattox pose for a portrait at Archer High School on Tuesday in Lawrenceville. With Stinchcomb handling the group’s operations, the other five men help build the character of students in five Gwinnett County schools through mentorship and serving the community. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: David Welker)
Very rarely in life is one afforded the opportunity to feel like they’re the right person in the right situation at the exact right time.
Yet that’s exactly how NG3 president and founder Matt Williams feels about a 2005 meeting with then Brookwood football head coach Mark Crews. Williams, a former Brookwood defensive back, was asked by his old high school coach to spend some time with the football team and give the players a third-party outlet that wasn’t part of the coaching staff.
It was that initial opportunity to work with student-athletes that showed Williams the path he’s currently on. Now almost 10 years later, he leads NG3, which stands for Next Generation: Character, Community and Change. He works with five others as their organization provides a faith-based character development outlet for five Gwinnett County schools.
“It has grown a little more every year,” Williams said. “Grown a little more into character programs to developing deeper relationships to getting more kids involved in community service projects, which is really our heart at this point. Obviously it’s come a long way since those early years, but those are the areas we really want to target in NG3, and that’s across schools and campuses. The character, community and the change aspect is what we really want.”
Jon Stinchcomb, who played football for Georgia and won a Super Bowl as an All-Pro offensive tackle with the New Orleans Saints, is the organization’s operational director. The Parkview grad, the lone staff member who isn’t placed at a school, joined the staff two years ago.
Williams is still working with Brookwood, while Javier Munoz works with Berkmar, Dustin Mattox with Grayson, Michael Woelfl with South Gwinnett and Thomas Jannett with Archer.
NG3 Founder Matt Williams, right, and operations manager Jon Stinchcomb, right, pose for a portrait at Archer High School on Tuesday in Lawrenceville. With Stinchcomb handling the group’s operations, Williams leads four others in helping build the character of students in five Gwinnett County schools through mentorship and serving the community. (Gwinnett Daily Staff Photo: David Welker)
NG3 pays the salaries of the school directors, who work with multiple sports on each campus, with their roles varying widely from sport to sport. They go through the required Gwinnett County certifications to be able to work with the different sports, but the county doesn’t pay any portion of their salary — NG3 does through donations and fundraisers for the non-profit organization.
The staff members are generally listed by the schools as character coaches who work with as many sports as they possibly can. Volunteers also serve at each school to work with the other programs that each school director is unable to make it to.
A typical day for an NG3 school director could range from just being at a practice for student-athletes to talk to, or they could find themselves helping run drills.
“NG3 staff has no say in who starts and who gets playing time, who gets the C captain letter on their jersey,” Stinchcomb said. “That’s liberating. (Students) can come to us and share things and know that it’s not going to affect their playing time, and vice-versa. We can teach them and share with them in ways that teachers and coaching staffs can’t, just because they’re employed by Gwinnett County.”
While on campus, NG3 respects the separation of church and state, providing mostly character building to student-athletes. But their hope is that as the relationship builds they can eventually get the students to want to be more involved off the field and join what they call huddle groups, which are Bible studies and support groups. Read more…
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Gov. Nathan Deal’s new education reform commission will have a significant Gwinnett presence.
Deal announced in a Wednesday news release the names of the 33 members of the commission, which will be tasked with studying the state’s education system and providing “recommendations intended to improve the system, increase access to early learning programs, recruit and retain high-quality instructors and expand school options for Georgia’s families.” Funding reform will be also be addressed.
Commission members are from throughout the state, but three of the group’s most high-profile participants have local ties: Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, Brooks Coleman (a state representative from Duluth’s District 97 and chairman of the House Education Committee) and Fran Millar (a state senator from District 40, which includes part of Gwinnett, and chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee).
Dick Yarborough, a syndicated columnist whose work appears in the Daily Post, will also serve on the commission.
“My vision for K-12 education in Georgia is a system driven by student need that provides local school and district leaders with real control and flexibility,” Deal said in the news release. “With this commission now in place, it is my hope that we will work together to make education more accessible and effective in preparing our state’s students for the rigors of college and the workforce.”
The commission will convene throughout the year and send recommendations to the governor’s office by Aug. 1. Some recommendations could go into effect as early as the 2016-17 school year, officials said.
Friday, December 19th, 2014
Innovating Learning Grants totaling $50,000 were awarded to Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) educators at the 2014 holiday gathering of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation.
The list of recipients of the December 2014 grants appears below. Under the Innovating Teaching initiative, grants totaling $175,200 have been issued in two years benefitting 18 clusters, 39 elementary schools, nine middle schools, 25 high schools, and three multi-level facilities. A complete list is available at www.gcps-foundation.org.
||Gwin Oaks ES
||STEAM, science technology, engineering, arts & math in 3D
||STEM Learning to code with Robotics
||Activity Trainer, Discrete Trial
|Terilyn L. Smith
||Engineering kits for project based STEM
||White Oak ES
||Project Based Learning Team
|Dana Carol Booker
||Care Team Success in the Classroom Support
||Five Forks MS
||Collaborative Learning Media Centers
||Collaborative Learning Media Centers
||AP Vertical Articulation Initiative
||Peachtree Ridge HS
||Peachtree Ridge Cluster
||Girls in Technology
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Willbanks, right, shakes hands with Bruce Reed, the Broad Foundation Present, during the Gwinnett County Public Schools Broad Award celebration at the newly renamed J. Alvin Willbanks Instructional Support Center on Tuesday in Suwanee. (Staff Photo: David Welker)
SUWANEE — When Celeste Wilbanks, the five grandchildren and great-granddaughter showed up, it was officially a big deal.
A big party reached another level at the very end of an evening celebration that turned out to be unscripted for almost all of the 1,400 attendees. In a suprise announcement on Tuesday evening when the latest Broad Prize was awarded to Gwinnett County Public Schools, the Gwinnett County Board of Education named the Instructional Support Center in honor of CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks.
Wilbanks, who has led the school district since 1996, knew it was coming at some point, but the timing was a surprise. Most of the senior district leaders were not aware. Only Chief of Staff Berney Kirkland and Chief Operations Officer Danny Jardine were aware that the naming would happen on Tuesday.
“I was thrilled,” said Celeste, Alvin Wilbanks’ wife of 50 years, who doesn’t attend many public functions. “This kind of sums up every thing about him. … I thought it was just perfect.”
The Board members said they considered naming a new school after Wilbanks, but chose the ISC because it represents the district overall — a sort of umbrella effect.
Wilbanks said he was honored and humbled by the honor.
“I love this school district, I love this county,” said Wilbanks, who called it a ‘wow evening’ even before his naming announcement was made. “My family means everything to me. I didn’t know my wife and my two daughters were here. I should have realized that when the grandchildren were here. When you get to be a grandparent, grandchildren are special, and they know they’re special to me, and I certainly appreciate them being here.”
Before the Wilbanks announcement, the evening featured remarks from an alumnus, teachers, administrators, local and state elected officials and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
State School Superintendent John Barge called Gwinnett a “shining star for the state of Georgia,” and the best thing he could do at the state level is, “get out of Alvin’s way.”
State Rep. Brett Harrell read a commendation from Gov. Nathan Deal before a video message from Isakson was played for the crowd.
“I’ve never known a more dedicated, committed, humble public servant than Alvin Wilbanks,” Isakson said. “I think winning this award is a tribute not just to him, but the entire public school system, the community and Board of Education.”
It was a celebration not often seen in the Board Room at the ISC. Some said they’ve only seen the room converted to serve appetizers and light refreshments when the school district wins the Broad Prize.
It was the second time since 2010 that GCPS won the award, and it was also named a finalist in 2009.
The Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation annually awards the Broad Prize for Urban Education, considered one of the largest education prizes in the country, to honor school districts that demonstrate educational improvement, especially for low-income students and minorities.
This was the first year since the prize’s inception in 2002 that the review board named only two finalists, instead of either four or five. Districts cannot apply or be nominated for the award, and winners are not eligible for three years following a win.
Gwinnett is the second two-time winner of the Broad. The Houston Independent School District won in 2002 and 2013. It was announced last month that GCPS would share the $1 million in prize money for college scholarships for graduating high school seniors with Orange County (Fla.) Schools.
Gwinnett’s total prize winnings since 2009 is now $1.75 million toward college scholarships.
The scholarships pay $5,000 a year for four-year schools and $2,500 a year for students attending two-year schools and are aimed at students who have shown improvement in their grades over time. When GCPS was a finalist in 2009, 13 Gwinnett seniors received scholarships, while in 2010 that number was 52.
Members of the selection jury in September said Gwinnett was chosen because of steady, sustainable gains. Some of the main reasons that Gwinnett was in the running were achievement and college entrance exam participation by low-income and minority students.
The foundation determines 75 of the nation’s largest urban school districts based on Census data of urbanity. At least 40 percent of students in those districts must be low-income, meaning they receive free or reduced lunch. In Gwinnett this school year, 57 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“This is your prize, you’ve earned it and you deserve it,” said Bruce Reed, president of the Broad Foundation. “You make it look easy, but let me tell you it’s not. You’re competing against the biggest cities and districts who spend twice as much per student as you do. This is a victory that means something, and it means everything to the students you teach and families you serve.”
In 2013, 88 percent of Gwinnett’s seniors participated in the SAT, including 90 percent of the district’s African-American students and 70 percent of Hispanic seniors. This compares to an eligible district average participation rates of 43 percent for African-American students and 40 percent for Hispanic students.
A greater percentage of low-income students are reaching advanced academic levels in Gwinnett than in other districts in Georgia. In 2013, the percentage of Gwinnett’s low-income students at all education levels (elementary, middle and high school) performing at the highest achievement level (Exceeds) in reading, math and science ranked in the top 20 percent statewide compared to other low-income students.
For example, 33 percent of Gwinnett’s low-income middle school students reached the advanced academic level on the state math assessment compared with 19 percent of low-income middle school students in the rest of the state.
School Board Chairman Dan Seckinger credited the students for making the event possible, and also said the board members were in awe and humbled about the accomplishment. Then he looked ahead.
“While today is truly incredible, tomorrow is another day,” Seckinger said. “We can’t rest on the successes of the past. Yesterday is in our rearview mirror, and while we would be foolish not to enjoy this moment, likewise we would be foolish to think we have arrived.”
Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
THE 20TH CENTURY BEGINS: 1899-1939 Program
STONE MOUNTAIN PARK offers many interactive and engaging educational opportunities in both the social studies and sciences this school year that align with GCPS AKS. For information on this program please visit: http://www.stonemountainpark.com/groups-education/school-programs.aspx FREE SCIENCE KITS for on-sight science field trips!
FREE POW WOW FIELD TRIP
This fall enter your class in the “Write Your Own Ticket” contest. http://www.stonemountainpark.com/groups-education/school-programs/write-your-own-ticket.aspx DEADLINE: September 12, 2014
FREE GEORGIA HISTORY FIELD TRIP WRITING CONTEST
Win a Free Georgia History Field Trip of your Choice at Stone Mountain Park Plus Bus Transportation!
Details: Enter your class in the “Write Your Own Ticket” GCPS Contest for a chance to win your choice of a FREE Civil War in Georgia, Colonial Georgia or Antebellum Life field trip including bus transportation to Stone Mountain Park in the spring. Your choice of one of these three free educational field trips is being offered exclusively to GCPS and is courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation and Stone Mountain Park!
History field trips correlate with GCPS social studies 1st through 8th grade AKS. DEADLINE: JANUARY 30, 2015
Ask about Snow Mountain Snow Day for schools on December 12, 2014! 770-498-5636
Stone Mountain Park
Monday, September 29th, 2014
Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology senior Samuel Zinga stands with Prinicpal IV Bray after receiving “The Boxtrolls” Innovator Award on Tuesday.
LAWRENCEVILLE — A senior at the Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology was surprised several days ago with a $1,500 scholarship from a film distribution company that named the scholarship after a new release on the big screen.
Samuel Zinga accepted the scholarship in front of more than 500 students, family, faculty and staff at the school. Focus Features presented the scholarship ahead of the nationwide release of “The Boxtrolls” on Friday.
GSMST faculty and administrators selected Zinga for the award based on his creativity, inventiveness and dedication to the school and his community. His passion for helping others within the school is similar to a lead character in “The Boxtrolls” movie, Eggs, as he tries to save his troll friends.
Eggs decides to take on the town’s villian, Archibald Snatcher, and teams up someone named Winnifred to save Eggs’ family.
Earlier in his career at GSMST, Zinga started a tutoring program for 50 ninth-graders called the “Freshmen Mentoring Program.” He’s also the president of the school’s National Honor Society and was the GSMST representative at the International Federation for the Teaching of English conference in Atlanta this summer.