North Atlanta Class of 2016 School’s Largest Graduating Class Ever


Jack Stenger

Class of 2016 graduates Niko Stines, Kyle Anderson and Lancina Djibo revel in the moment after their May 26 graduation ceremony in the Georgia World Congress Center.

At 369 members strong, North Atlanta High School’s Class of 2016 represents the school’s largest graduating class ever. But the noteworthy group will long be remembered for reasons that go well beyond size. Its academic prowess is represented by the nearly $20 million the class earned in scholarships and merit-based financial aid, along with admittance into some of the state’s and nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

Members of the Class of 2016, the school’s 26th graduating class, received their diplomas on Thursday, May 26, in the Georgia World Congress Center. Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, APS Board of Education Vice Chair Nancy Meister and other board members were on hand to congratulate the graduates.

Nearly 40 percent of all North Atlanta’s graduating seniors took AP of IB classes. Some 53 percent of the class is eligible for the state’s HOPE scholarship and 21 percent of senior class is eligible for the Zell Miller Hope Scholarship. As for prestigious in-state colleges, 50 North Atlanta students have been accepted into the University of Georgia and 21 have been admitted to Georgia Tech.

The class includes Posse Scholar Agustin Jimenez and Gates Millennium Scholar Sydney Scales. Wade Kovalik and Max Sowatzka were National Merit Scholarship finalists. Clarke McCollum will study at the Air Force Academy in the fall and several members of the Class of 2016 have joined the nation’s armed forces. The Principal’s Cup winner was Maleni Palacios-Delgado and the 2016 Warrior Scholar-Athlete winner was Claire Shea. The Coca-Cola Golden Helmet award went to Joel Maldonado, a co-captain on the Warrior football team. The Golden Helmet award recognizes noteworthy academic achievement and athletic leadership.

The AJC Cup Award recipient was Bethany Bell. AJC Cup winners are selected for the honor by their school’s faculty. The criteria for selection are academic excellence, leadership, community service and extracurricular involvement.

The class valedictorian, the student with the highest cumulative grade point average, was Lydia Zemmali. The class salutatorian, the student with the second highest GPA, was Bethany Bell. Zemmali will attend Stanford University and Bell will attend Georgia Tech. Also recognized at graduation was 2016 Star Student Wade Kovalik. The Star Student is the senior with the highest cumulative score on the SAT. Kovalik will attend Georgia State University. After two years in the Regents’ Engineering Transfer Program, he will study at Georgia Tech. He nominated math teacher Christopher Manson as this year’s Star Teacher.

Members of the Class of 2016 have impressed Ivy League colleges as six of the eight Ivies have extended admittances to Warrior scholars. In the fall, North Atlanta students will study at some of the nation’s most noteworthy colleges and universities. Among the schools are Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University, Boston University, Hofstra University, Georgetown University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, Fisk University, George Washington University, Emory University, Stanford University, University of Texas, SCAD-Hong Kong, Marymount Manhattan College, Xavier University, Bard College in Berlin, Germany, University of Tennessee, University of the South, Washington and Lee, Southern Methodist University, Virginia Tech, University of Arizona, St. John’s University, Barnard College, University of Colorado-Boulder, Spelman College and Vanderbilt University.

“This is a group we will always remember and we know they are bound to do great things,” said North Atlanta Principal Curtis Douglass. “They’ve set the bar high and all succeeding classes will have to work hard to reach the lofty standards set by the Class of 2016.”