If the Cobb Schools Class of 2020 is a forecast of the future, the future will be as bright as their high school legacy has been inspiring.
Cobb’s newest graduates are already known for helping others, whether by tutoring younger students or dedicating hours to community service. The 2020 graduates stand out as leaders, inside and outside school. They have a reputation for academic and athletic excellence, and as the past few months have demonstrated, resiliency is a skill they all possess.
Here is a snapshot of some inspiring members of the Cobb Schools Class of 2020 that will make you stand up and applaud:
Osborne High School graduate T’ya Suber was awarded an Army ROTC National College Scholarship valued at $80,000 and various track scholarships at different colleges totaling $438,670. T’ya also was awarded the Deans Scholarship and Out of State Scholarship at Bradley University worth $72,000. She competed on Osborne’s Track and Field Team finishing #1 in the region for the 400-meter, 200-meter, and Long Jump. She is ranked #2 in Georgia for Class AAAAAA for both the 400-meter and 200-meter. She also holds the Osborne record for the 400-meter.
Matt Alea, Pope High School, won the GHSA Regional Award for Best Actor in Pope’s One Act Play and was part of the “Footloose” cast and crew who won the Show Stopper Award at the 2020 Shuler Awards. As a dual enrollment student, Matt split his senior year between Kennesaw State University and Pope. He was awarded Pope’s Most Talented Drama Senior Superlative and will continue his studies at KSU and working for People Store Talent Agency in Atlanta
Hillgrove High School’s Class of 2020 includes many outstanding seniors with stories of perseverance and determination. In 10th grade, Isaac Martinez moved to the United States from Mexico without his family. He went from ESOL classes to AP classes, including AP English. After drowning in a lake when he was 13, James Maddux was unconscious and in a coma, but he recovered and went on to play football and graduate from Hillgrove.
Evan Montoya made a perfect score on the SAT at the end of his 10th-grade year at Hillgrove. He is this year’s Regional Star Student and a National Merit Award winner. Evan is also the recipient of Georgia Tech’s prestigious Stamps Scholarship.
Jennifer Harnage’s hard work at Hillgrove paid off as she was accepted into the United States Naval Academy. She also ranked nationally for her accomplishment in the JROTC program.
Jennifer will see a fellow Cobb graduate at the United States Naval Academy. Kennesaw Mountain High School’s Jack Mollohan will be attending the United States Naval Academy, while Wheeler High School’s Jared Ryley will report to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Another Wheeler High School graduate, Naomi Chernowski, served as an intern for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, where she worked to develop a social media campaign that will be used to help promote and collect donations for their online Starry Night fundraiser.
Some of the Cobb graduates proved their resiliency long before anyone had heard of the coronavirus.
Walton High School’s Josh Cook had to overcome several challenges after suffering a stroke at birth but as a result of his determination has been accepted to Georgia Southern University where he can continue his career goal to work at Disney World. Josh spent his high school career preparing for his career choice, sharpening his leadership and customer service skills along the way.
During the second semester of his junior year at South Cobb High School, Niles Frances and his family lost their home to a fire. Sadly, a month and a half later, Niles lost his mom suddenly. Through all this, Niles persevered and completed all his core classes in December and then enrolled as a full-time dual enrollment student at Chattahoochee Tech.
Academically, Emma Sorckoff was one of the top students in the Class of 2020 at Lassiter High School. She served as the Drum Major for two marching seasons, which included Lassiter’s march through the Rose Bowl Parade. While pushing herself to succeed at Lassiter, she had to do so while also coping with the diagnosis of her younger sister who had to undergo radiation treatment for a brain tumor in another state. Despite the absence of her parents and sister for the first two months of her junior year—an extremely stressful time in any student’s life—Emma kept her grades up, stayed committed to her school leadership positions, took care of her younger sibling, and did it all with a smile on her face.
Two students at Pebblebrook High School are examples of the type of determination that make up the Class of 2020. Joseph Joyce-Smith had an organ transplant this year, and although he was a homebound student, he still stayed focused on his studies and graduated on time. Jaylynn Taylor suffers from Lupus as well as organ failure, and yet she not only graduated on time, she did it with a weighted GPA of 3.904, and a positive attitude on top of it all.
Many of the students who walk the halls of Cobb Horizon High School have inspiring stories of resiliency. Here are three: Robert Daniels was displaced from his home for his last year of high school. He and his family often lived with family members or temporary housing. However, he always continued to attend school. He was focused on achieving his high school diploma, regardless of his obstacles, and he did just that. Chad Myers had to overcome serious family obstacles, but all the while managed to keep very good grades and run his own successful business. In the midst of accomplishing her academic goals, Mary Huiel had to support herself and her younger sister while working and living in her car prior to enrolling at Cobb Horizon. Mary, like the others, defeated all odds and graduated as part of the Class of 2020.
Some members of the Class of 2020 are already excelling beyond the classroom.
Kell High School’s Iris Ann Giulianelli prepared for her private pilot’s license exam while completing her high school career through Kennesaw State University’s honors dual enrollment program.
Last summer, Ria Uppalapati discovered her interest in sustainability and environmental economics. The recent Walton High School graduate took her passion and drive and founded a nonprofit organization, Forever Earth, to support sustainability in the local community. This includes partnering with local organizations and businesses and participating in local drives and campaigns. Qilin Tong, another Walton graduate, is a nationally ranked sabre fencer and will fence at John Hopkins University next year.
Cobb’s Class of 2020 is Filled with Students Dedicated to Helping Others
Katie Cauffiel has a “heart to serve and inspire” according to educators at Kennesaw Mountain High School. Not only did she start spending time during lunch and before and after school tutoring in her freshman year, but she also started an online STEM chat group to help other Academy members and launched a “Girls Who Code” group at feeder middle schools to encourage middle school girls to learn to code. As she supported the girls in their technology competitions, she also served as a mentor to middle schoolers.
According to her teacher, Sprayberry High School graduate, Catherine Maciejewski was constantly involved in making her school a better place. Even when Sprayberry had to close its doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “Kat” didn’t stop looking for ways to help. Instead, she completed a Little Free Library for kids in her neighborhood.
Five Campbell High School seniors teamed up to host a virtual college signing day for their fellow Campbell seniors via Instagram: Austin Fabritius, Alex Gerhart, Midori Jenkins, Anju Kumar, Hannah Yahne. They didn’t want their classmates to miss out on an annual school event that gave seniors an opportunity to showcase the next step in their academic journey.
Like the Campbell students, Lauren Allen wanted to help recognize her fellow Class of 2020 classmates at Harrison High School. So, she created an Instagram account @harrisonhs2020 honoring the entire senior class and their plans after high school.
Another standout senior from Harrison Audrey McNeal coordinated the Atlanta Food Band project for the school’s National Honor Society Community Service Day, which resulted in 10,998 pounds of food for 7,545 families in need. She also helped spearhead state-wide grassroots “Youth-Call-To-Action Day” in which high schoolers from around the state participated in campaigning. Those are just two of the accomplishments on her long list of leadership and civic roles.
Allatoona High School’s Lauren Boykins not only graduated at the top of her class academically, but she also was heavily involved in athletics and community service, earning her tremendous respect from both her teachers and peers. Lauren was the 2020 Allatoona recipient of the Vincent J. Dooley Award which is given to a high school male and female athlete for their distinguished individual character, outstanding teamwork, and citizenship. She was also Allatoona’s PAGE STAR Student for 2020, which is awarded to one senior at each Georgia high school who has scored the “highest score on any single test date of the SAT taken through the November test date of their senior year and is in the top 10 percent of students of their class based on grade point average.”
Micah Booker was a member of both the McEachern High School varsity soccer and swim teams. He also served on the Principal’s Advisory Committee and as a mentor to younger students at McEachern. He maintained a 4.0 cumulative GPA in addition to his packed schedule of athletic, leadership, and community service activities.
Rahel Kefetew graduated from North Cobb High School’s Magnet School for International Studies with a GPA above 4.3. Beyond her academic success, Rahel served as an intern with the Kennesaw Business Association, organized food drives for the Daily Bread food pantry, planned and organized pep rallies for each season of athletic teams, served as Vice President of the North Cobb’s chapter of The National Honor Society, worked on the school’s morning news team, represented North Cobb in state completions through SkillsUSA, and served on the advisory board for the magnet program at North Cobb.
Congratulations Class of 2020! You did it!