by Mark Brock
Balancing academics and athletics always is a challenge for students on any level, and 23 DeKalb County School System athletes accomplished it while earning top graduating honors at their respective schools.
Including magnet schools, DeKalb County has 22 high school academic programs (excluding Arabia Mountain which does not have a senior class in 2010) participating in athletics throughout the school year and 50 graduating seniors earned valedictorian or salutatorian honors.
The group of 23 athletes represents 14 high school academic programs and 46 percent of those will be receiving either valedictorian or salutatorian honors. The number is also up from the 21 honorees from the 2009 academic year.
“I would like to highly commend all these student-athletes for excelling in the classroom and in their athletic endeavors,” said DeKalb County Director of Athletics Ron Sebree. “They are shining examples of what a student-athlete should be by representing DeKalb County Schools Athletics, their schools and communities at a high level of competition and by achieving the heights they have in the classroom.”
Two of the 23 will be attending Ivy League schools. Southwest DeKalb Magnet valedictorian/softball player Davynn Brown signed and will play softball at Yale. Miller Grove salutatorian/football player Terrance Moore takes his academic and athletic skills to Harvard.
Brown batted .441 with 14 RBIs and two home runs for the Lady Panthers while Moore tallied 10 tackles from his defensive back position for the Wolverines.
Cedar Grove valedictorian/defensive lineman Jamel Dobbs is heading to the U. S. Naval Academy after compiling 61 tackles, including 16 tackles for a loss, and four sacks, for the Saints last fall.
A group of triplets took all the top honors at Lakeside this year while competing in three sports (softball, basketball, golf) throughout the school year.
Lauren Boden topped her sisters for valedictorian honors as Allison and Stephanie were named co-salutatorians. The group is signed up to play softball and continue their academic careers at California Polytechnic Institute (Cal Poly) in Pomona, Calif. The trio led the Lakeside Lady Viking golf team to the state tournament two consecutive years while also winning the DeKalb County championship over the same period.
Athletes swept the top honors at seven schools this spring–Cedar Grove, Chamblee Magnet School, Cross Keys, Druid Hills, Dunwoody, Lakeside and Southwest DeKalb (resident).
Five athletes each in cross country, track and tennis earned top academic honors, with eight of the 15 being valedictorians. Four scholars played softball while three each played football, golf and basketball. Two scholars played baseball while one scholar each participated in volleyball and cheerleading. Seven honorees participated in two or more sports during the academic year, including five of the valedictorians.
Kasahu Neselu, cross county/track
Jamel Dobbs, football
Zinan Zhang, swimming
Carlton Washington, football/track
Druid Hills: Diem-Anh Vo, tennis
Seth Inman, cross country/track
Lauren Boden, softball/basketball/golf
Redan: Tolulope Teniola, track
Southwest DeKalb Magnet:
Davynn Brown, softball
Southwest DeKalb Resident:
Amina Avril, track
Zintiesha McKenzie, cheerleading/tennis
Cedar Grove: Maria Saddler, tennis
Chamblee Magnet: Nazar Bilukha, tennis; Jintae Alex Seoh, cross country
Clarkston: Teresa Nguyen, tennis
Cross Keys: Tay Mai, baseball
Hannah Wichmann, cross country
Graham Goldberg, cross country
Lakeside: Allison Boden, softball/basketball/golf; Stephanie Boden, softball/basketball/golf
Lithonia: Caroline Bailey, volleyball
Miller Grove: Terrance Moore, football
Southwest DeKalb Resident:
Brandon Martin, baseball