Atlanta Youth Academy (AYA) is blessed to have hosted 135 attendees at our annual Spring Luncheon. With 18 table hosts and a tasty lunch served buffet-style from Jack’s New York Deli, we enjoyed the camaraderie of close friends, old friends, and new friends. Around 30 students from our 6th, 7th and 8th grades served as school ambassadors, greeting our guests, lunching with them, and escorting them on campus tours after luncheon concluded.
Eighth grader Jaquez Dew gave the blessing, and his classmate Jessica Fejoku made the welcome address. Other program highlights included:
• President Peter Rooney, who welcomed everyone and gave an overview of AYA (see remarks below);
• Stephanie Banner (AYA Kindergarten), who recited a poem that she had written entitled, “Power”;
• A performance by AYA’s Kindergarteners (pictured below), who recited Maya Angelou’s poem “I Rise” and sang “Armor of God.”
We were very proud to have two AYA graduates shared their alumni perspectives: First, Caleb Croft (AYA ’13/Rabun Gap ’17) spoke to the person of character AYA had taught him to become as he entered the boarding-school learning environment of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School for the remainder of his secondary school career. He progressed with confidence, “focusing on God first, and academics second.” Anthony Sgro, head of school at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee, not only introduced Caleb to the luncheon audience, but expressed appreciation for AYA and the caliber of students his school has received from our community over the years. Currently, at least six AYA graduates attend his school.
Next, Jamesa Stokes (AYA ’04, Lovett ’09, Auburn ’14) addressed the audience. Jamesa is a 2014-2015 Fulbright scholar who studied in Germany. Currently she’s a PhD candidate from Penn State University, focusing on materials science and engineering, with research on thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine engines. Of her AYA experience, this stellar young woman said, “I definitely appreciate all the teachers who made my love for learning possible. I think it is a worthwhile school to invest in, I hope that students at AYA continue to get the same support that I did.”
Billy Peebles, headmaster of The Lovett School, said of Jamesa, “I can speak for the entire faculty and staff of The Lovett School, that she was a tremendous asset to our community. She threw herself into life at Lovett with verve and excitement from the moment she set foot on campus in 9th grade. She blessed everyone with whom she came in contact. We are enormously proud of Jamesa and her incredible accomplishments.”
In welcoming the gathering, Peter Rooney (pictured above) described the AYA community:
- Who we are: “If you are new to AYA…we are a 20-year-old Christian inner-city prep school for 150 boys and girls from grades pre-K to eight. We are old school — we pray, say a pledge, and have Chapel weekly.”
- What we do: “All of our graduates go to high school, they graduate high school, and go to college. They do this because they understand they have the opportunity. They understand they are not entitled to the opportunity, they know it’s an opportunity — that if they work hard they can claim it. And they know that is the key to a brighter future.”
- How we are shown grace and good fortune: “We are blessed to have volunteers who serve on the Board of Trustees and Directors, who serve on the Leadership Gift Committee, who serve on auction committees, who assist with girls’ and boys’ Bible studies, and who serve as mentors for our students every day.”
- Why we need you: “We are blessed because today there are more people in Atlanta who know us and can help spread the word that great things are happening at the Atlanta Youth Academy… Pray for us, talk about us, support us, and come back to AYA soon and often.”
What about you? Do you have any questions or comments about AYA? If so, please leave them below. We would also like to thank Mimi Brown for the beautiful decorations, and Peachtree Tents & Events for the tables and linens. Thanks to all who came, helped, and participated!
Next post — Stay tuned! There’s a lot happening at AYA and we don’t want you to miss some exciting news!