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Top high school seniors.

Compassionate, competitive students set sights high for the future

Motivated, accomplished and dedicated to excellence, this year's pick of Top High School Seniors epitomizes the best and brightest of the nation's pool of academically gifted Black students.

The 29 young scholars featured here were recommended by selected school boards and high school administrators nationwide and were judged on the basis of outstanding scholarship, leadership potential and community awareness and involvement.

Most of these students have exemplary grade point averages even though their demanding course loads frequently include college preparatory classes. Many are regulars on the honor roll and take first-place honors in local, state and national competitions in varsity sports, the arts, the sciences and mathematics. Some have viewed life through a different cultural lens via exchange programs with countries in Africa, Europe and Asia. Among the seniors are a published poet, a teen mother who ranks first in her class, a novelist, a radio talk show host and a national game-show contestant.

Many of the talented high school seniors listed here hope to be among the classical pianists, actuaries, trauma surgeons, pharmacists and journalists of the future. One young woman wants to be the country's first Black female U.S. Supreme Court justice.

A common spirit of competitiveness and compassion runs deeply among these high achievers. They tutor elementary schoolchildren, coach community sports teams, distribute food and clothing at local shelters and routinely speak to younger students about the pitfalls of drugs and gangs.

This fall, these future leaders will fulfill vet another dream as they continue their educational pursuits at various historically Black and historically White colleges and universities.

Kristin Johnson of Dallas plans to attend Georgetown University this fall after she graduates from the Law Magnet High School. With a 3.5 GPA, the debate team captain and National Honor Society president is ranked second in her class. A public service enthusiast at heart, the National Achievement scholar has worked with numerous political campaigns and has been instrumental in implementing the adopt-a-school program in her area.

Aisha-Marlena Powell ranks in the top percentile of her class of 420 at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. The aspiring attorney has received numerous commendations and honors for academics. Designated as a Young Black Scholar, Powell is a member of the student council, captain of the varsity cheerleading squad and secretary of the school's dance troupe. Boston student Fitzroy Ward-Cawdette maintains a 3.77 GPA at South Boston High School where he ranks No. 1 in his class. A recipient of the Harvard Book Award and a member of the National Honor Society, he plans to study architecture, physics and robotics at the University of Massachusetts this fall.

Babatunde Alokolaro of Chicago has a 4.5 GPA at Whitney Young High School where he is a Principal's Scholar and member of the National Honor Society, concert orchestra, the swim team, the newspaper staff and the student council. The Illinois State Scholar is also a member of the city's youth symphony. The Student Leader awardee plans to study architecture and one day hopes to own his own architectural firm.

Nekia Hackworth of Atlanta has a 4.16 CPA at D. M. Therrell High School where she is valedictorian of a class of 220. First-place winner of a regional dramatic interpretation competition and lead actress for the school's theatrical group, the National Achievement scholar was also crowned Miss Black Teen Atlanta. Hackworth plans to major in English literature and applied statistics this fall and one day hopes to become a corporate attorney.

Latondra Lewis of Birmingham's Wenonah High School has a 4.4 GPA. The future anesthesiologist is a member of the National Honor Society, National Beta Club and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Club. Captain of the math team, she is also an active participant in the Academic Bowl and the marching and concert bands. She also plays the piano at her church.

Shane Callender ranks in the top percentile of a class of 831 at Brooklyn Technical High School in New York. Captain of the school's Tae-Kwon Do club and a member of the fencing squad, he has received several honors for outstanding scholastic achievements, including commendations for poetry. This National Achievement scholar, who will major in biochemistry this fall, wants to be a trauma surgeon.

Damon Williams is valedictorian in a class of 256 at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C. The 1995 National Achievement Commended Scholar, National Honor Society student and school newspaper editor also ranked first in his class at the elementary and junior high school levels. With a 4.2 GPA, Williams is a member of the U.S. Senate Youth Program as a scholar youth leader and has served as a youth ambassador to Bonn, Germany. The business major plans to go into hotel and restaurant management.

Nordia Higgins is the salutatorian of a class of 114 at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Mo. A member of the drama club and debate and forensics teams, the future broadcast journalist tutors and works in the church nursery in her spare time.

James W. Miles Jr. has a 4.4 grade point average at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago. The 1995 high school homecoming king is also the recipient of the NAACP ACT-SO science award. The sports enthusiast coaches local youths in soccer and tutors fellow students in math and science. He will major in international studies at Morehouse College this fall.

Lashon Johns has a 3.93 GPA at John C. Fremont High School in Oakland, Calif., where she ranks third in her class of 351. Last spring, the math and engineering major received a scholarship to study in Kenya, where she taught math to rural schoolchildren and helped to build a classroom. Johns, who participates in badminton, Summer Search and after-school tutoring, will attend Spelman College on a full scholarship.

Steven C. Jenkins has a 4.0 GPA at George Washington Carver High School in Philadelphia. The nine-time American Academic Decathlon medalist is working to complete his second novel. In his spare time, Jenkins, who is concurrently enrolled at Temple University, coaches a local baseball team.

Adrien Lewis has a 4.1 GPA at Little Rock, Ark.'s John L. McClellan High School, where he ranks first in the senior class. The all-conference football player and aspiring chemical engineer is also state president of the Future Business Leaders of America. Vera Okoro is valedictorian of her class of 440 at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, D.C. The National Achievement Commended Scholar, who was voted as most likely to succeed by her peers, is a hospital volunteer and peer mentor. She plans to study physical therapy this fall.

Javona Braxton of Richmond, Va., is the salutatorian of her class at John Marshall High School. Chosen by the city's Youth Services Commission as "Youth of the Year," the government major will attend the University of Virginia on full scholarship. Her No. 1 goal is to be the first Black female U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Adele Hines, a senior at Whitehaven High School in Memphis, will be a pre-med major at Hampton University this fall. The National Merit-commended student, who also has a keen interest in the arts, recently had three of her poems published by the National Library of Poetry. Hines, who is a member of the newspaper staff, the Knowledge Bowl, the year-book production team and the NAACP Youth Council, divides her free time between volunteer work at a local soup kitchen and centers for abused children.

Lakesha Brown has a 4.9 GPA on a 5.0 scale at Lincoln Senior High School in East St. Louis, Ill. The senior class valedictorian has won numerous awards, including the Kodak Leadership Award, the Naval Achievement Award and Illinois State Scholar recognition. She is president of the student council, Teen Leaders of the Community, the computer and math clubs. The INROADS member plans to study finance management and become an actuary.

Johnny Seymore III is the salutatorian at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Fla. With a 3.73 GPA, he is a member of the National Honor Society, the varsity basketball team and the marching and jazz bands. In his spare time, the future computer engineer speaks to elementary schoolchildren about the hazards of drugs, gangs and violence.

Demeka Hightower is the president of the student government and captain of the cheerleading, volleyball and basketball teams at Houston's Ross Sterling Senior High School. The community-minded student, who was crowned "Ms. Lady Sterling," participates on numerous anti-gang and anti-drug committees and in many Big Sister groups. She plans to major in broadcast journalism and pre-law this fall.

Daryl Dwayne Allen ranks No. 1 in a class of 176 with a 4.5 GPA at John Adams High School in Cleveland. He is president of the National Honor Society, a recipient of the Harvard Book Award and was a local essay contest winner. The peer tutor and community volunteer will study pharmacy at Xavier University later this year.

Sumona Smith ranks No. 1 at Jim Hill High School, where she maintains a 4.49 GPA. The Jackson, Miss., native hosts a local radio talk show and is a member of Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society and the youth division of the city's crime commission. Educational tours have taken this aspiring neurosurgeon and classical pianist across the seas to France and Spain.

Tremika Massey is the valedictorian of a class of 273 at McDonogh 35 Senior High School in New Orleans. The 17-year-old, who maintains a 4.3 GPA, wants to open her own business one day. Currently, she is vice president of the senior class, a member of the Nationd Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Club, the Key Club and the Velocity Teen Club. The student council treasurer will attend Florida A&M University and major in mathematics.

Alayne Sampson of San Diego ranks first in her class of 117 with a 4.06 GPA at Gompers Secondary School. Fluent in Spanish, she tutors Spanish-speaking students in math and serves as editor-in-chief of the school yearbook. The Harvard Book Award winner was a foreign exchange student in Japan last year. Presently, she serves as vice president of the Constitution team.

Esther Gamble of Indianapolis wants to be a newscaster one day. The Northwest High School senior is a member of the girls' varsity basketball team, cheerleading squad and the National Honor Society. She is also listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students. Deshaun R. Hill of Milwaukee has a 4.0 GPA at Rufus King High School, where he ranks first in a class of 244. The All-American Scholar and future biomedical engineer is a varsity football player, church usher and choir member.

Teen Mom Succeeds Against The Odds

Nia Brown of Philadelphia had her first child at 14 and her second at 15. Although she enjoys being a mother, she wishes she had waited longer before becoming one. Nevertheless, this tenacious young woman, who divides each day between caring for her children, Marquitta (1.), 3, and George, 4, working part-time and attending honors classes at Germantown High School, has turned challenges into opportunities. She ranks No. 1 in her class and is set to begin freshman studies at Temple University on full scholarship. "A lot of girls in my situation give up. I wanted to be a part of those teenage moms who stayed in school, who go on to graduate school and who are known in the world," she says.

$1.5 Million In Scholarship Offers

The secret of getting your hands on free college cash isn't really a secret at all, say mega money finders Veronica Davis-Smith of Washington, D.C., and Jason Howard of Atlanta. The two graduating seniors have collected more than $1,500,000 in offers between them, and they're still counting. "Start early, work hard and get involved in every extracurricular activity you can," advises Davis-Smith, who has a 4.09 GPA at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. She collected more than $790,000 in financial awards from various institutions. Howard, valedictorian of his senior class at Atlanta's Frederick Douglass High School, has been accepted by 22 colleges and universities and received scholarship offers exceeding $750,000. Other achievers who dug deeply and found money for college, include Mardi Pinkney of Washington, D.C., and Christopher Williams of Atlanta.

Detroit Teen Wins National Exposure

This has been a super year for super senior Shannon Lynne Shelton, who maintains a 3.94 grade point average at Renaissance High School in Detroit. Ranked in the top 10 percent of her class, the 17-year-old was spotlighted by Teen Magazine as a 1995 finalist for the "Miss Teenage America" honor. In addition, she participated on the popular, brain-twisting game show Jeopardy! as a semifinalist during the program's teen tournament. Shelton also visited England as an exchange student, had several articles published in Detroit area newspapers and was chosen by a local business group as "Michigan High School Journalist of the Year." The National Achievement Scholar is a member of the National Honor Society, the cross country team and the school newspaper staff.
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Title Annotation:outstanding black students
Date:Jul 1, 1995
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