By Chanda Temple
Birmingham City Schools
The Birmingham City Schools’ Class of 2017 has secured $39 million in scholarships, topping the Class of 2016’s $37.2 million scholarship total. In fact, the amount of scholarships by graduating seniors has increased yearly.
The Class of 2013 earned $22.73 million in scholarships, the Class of 2014 amassed $25.47 million, and the Class of 2015 collected $26.7 million, said Dr. Sharon Bell, Birmingham City Schools Assistant Superintendent.
Clarissa Reese, guidance and counseling coordinator for the Birmingham Board of Education, said the district has seen an increase in college scholarship offerings because of an increase in student achievement levels; the hard work of counselors; different initiatives and programs implemented in the district, including the Career Academies; and a boost in athletics over the last few years.
“We work very hard to make sure all of our students are college or career ready, if not both,” Reese said. “That’s something we focus on daily.”
Of the $39 million in scholarships for the Class of 2017, $3.42 million were secured by this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians.
Huffman High School Valedictorian Taelor Allen amassed $1.1 million in scholarship offers, the most by any senior. Meanwhile, Huffman High School Salutatorian Imari Anderson has amassed at least $279,000 in scholarship offers.
Allen, who has a 4.6 GPA and plays volleyball, earned a full-ride scholarship to Tuskegee University and received the Class 7A, Region 3 Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Award, which rewards athletes who excel academically. Anderson, who has a 4.4 GPA, has a full-ride scholarship to Troy University. Both are in the National Honor Society and National Business Honor Society. And each will graduate with an Alabama high school diploma with merit, the highest diploma a Birmingham City Schools’ student can achieve.
“[Allen and Anderson] are the end products of what we hope to see in all of our students in Birmingham City Schools,’’ said Beverly Hackett, Huffman High School Counselor. “They have a strong work ethic. Students at my school have seen everything these two young ladies have achieved through the years, and now they are asking me, ‘How can I be like [them]?’’’
Allen, Anderson, and other district valedictorians and salutatorians were recognized by school and city officials earlier this month at the Birmingham Board of Education and during an awards dinner at the Florentine Building in downtown Birmingham.
Here’s a list of this year’s other Birmingham City Schools valedictorians and salutatorians:
Carver High School: Valedictorian Antonia Hodges has a 4.0 GPA and $196,593 in scholarships; she plans to attend Alabama State University. Ariel A. Johnson has a 3.962 GPA and $125,000 in scholarships and plans to attend Berea College in Berea, Ky.
Jackson-Olin High School: Valedictorian Rosa Ventura has a 3.86 GPA and $117,144 in scholarship offers. Salutatorian Arionna Rudolph has a 3.76 GPA and $136,144 in scholarship offers; she will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Parker High School: Valedictorian Aspen Gorman has a 3.52 GPA and $141,000 in scholarship offers; she plans to attend Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn. Salutatorian Kenyatta Congress has a 3.49 GPA and $153,000 in scholarship offers.
Ramsay High School: Valedictorian Alexander Lee has a 4.47 GPA and more than $382,000 in scholarships; he plans to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. Ramsay has two salutatorians, each with a 4.43 GPA: Jarian Lee has secured $773,108 in scholarship offers, and Alexis Nord has more than $354,000 in scholarship offers.
Wenonah High School: Valedictorian Wynter Rudolph has a 3.877 GPA and $176,900 in scholarship offers; she plans to attend Alabama State University. Salutatorian Jimi Bonds has a 3.701 GPA and $237,172 in scholarship offers.
Woodlawn High School: Valedictorian Taylor Witt has a 4.16 GPA and $238,554 in scholarships; she plans to attend UAB. Salutatorian Dominike Bowman has a 4.11 GPA and $20,000 in scholarships; he plans to attend Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn.