Graduation Marks End of High School Journey for Class of 2018

AJC Cup Award winner and 2018 Invictus yearbook editor-in-chief Adenike Makinde gives a confident smile on her graduation day. For college, she will attend the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

They first entered their high school as wide-eyed freshman on August 4, 2014. This same group confidently marched through high school and recently boldly marched into the Georgia World Congress Center on May 24, 2018, in downtown Atlanta for a rich pomp-and-circumstance-filled graduation ceremony to mark the end of their four-year journey.

More than 3,000 people were on hand to witness the May 24 event that saw 402 seniors graduate. The Class of 2018 is not just the school’s 28th graduating class, it’s also North Atlanta’s largest graduating class ever.

During the ceremony, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, APS board member Nancy Meister and other board members were on hand to congratulate the graduates and certify their diplomas. North Atlanta Principal Curtis Douglass read the long list of accomplishments that the seniors achieved both individually and collectively.

In its ranks, the Class of 2018 has two Posse Scholars (Cassipea Stith and Osaze Chimeka-Tisdale), one National Merit Scholar, and one student who received an appointment from a U.S. military academy (Samuel McCollum: Air Force Academy).

The Class of 2018’s Principal’s Cup winner was Ruby De Paz, the AJC Cup Award recipient was Adenike Makinde and the Most Outstanding IB Learner was Emma Slater. The Warrior Scholar Award, given to a particularly noteworthy student-athlete went to Arielle Lestandie and the Coca-Cola Golden Helmet Award went to Dominic Ham.

The class valedictorian, the student with the highest cumulative grade point average, was Richard Hill. The class salutatorian, the student with the second highest GPA, was Benjamin Israel. Hill will attend Brown University in the fall and Israel will attend Georgia Tech.

Hill was also recognized during the ceremony as the class STAR student, which meant among his peers he had the highest cumulative score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Hill also made scholastic headlines this by answering every question correctly on the 2017 AP Calculus AB exam, making him one of only six test takers in the world to accomplish the feat. As a STAR Student, Hill was able to nominate a teacher to be this year’s STAR teacher and he named math teacher David Ehrman.

During his valedictorian speech called upon his fellow graduates to live up to the promise they so demonstrably showed during their high school year. “As we take this symbolic step, let’s renew our passions, let’s double down on our determination, and let’s take a strong, honest look at how we want to live our lives,” he said. This is not some random journey, this is our adulthood. Let’s make this place just a little bit better, for ourselves and everyone around us.”

To cap off his speech, the valedictorian led his fellow graduates in a spontaneous sung rendition of the song “Fireflies” by the band Owl City. And before taking his seat, Hill – in full cap-and-gown regalia – then performed a spontaneous and well-landed backflip before his astonished classmates and school administrators.

Collectively, the class was awarded more than $26 million in grants and scholarships to attend colleges across the country. Students in this academically accomplished class received acceptances at Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, Emory University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, University of Florida, University of Alabama, Vanderbilt University, Clemson University, University of Tennessee, Auburn University, University of Mississippi, College of Charleston, Tulane University, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Loyola University-Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of St. Andrews (Scotland), Boston College, Syracuse University, New York University, St. John’s University, Fordham University, Bowdoin College, Brown University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Southern California, among others.

“It’s never easy to see our graduates leave us, particularly not a group as noteworthy as this one,” said Principal Curtis Douglass. “But in considering all that they done, we know our school’s mission is being and will be realized in them. Class of 2018, we are proud of you. Never forget us and never forget that you’re always part of the Warrior family.”