By SHERRY DIGMON
Scholarships totaling more than $30,000 were awarded and 182 students were honored at the Atmore Rotary Club’s 37th annual Academic All-Stars program Thursday, May 12.
Students from Atmore Christian School, Escambia Academy, Escambia County High School, and Northview High School are eligible for the program each year. To be named an Academic All-Star, one of the requirements is the student must have maintained an A or B average in each subject for each grading period. For the title of a Four-Year Academic All-Star, seniors must have maintained this status from the ninth grade through the twelfth grade.
At Thursday’s program, Four-Year Academic All-Stars received a scholarship for $1,000. Seniors who were All-Stars for three years received $700; two-year seniors received $600; and one-year seniors received $500.
Eleven students attained the Four-Year All-Star status. They are as follows:
- Caeden James Battles – son of Tim and Carita Battles, Atmore Christian School.
Caeden plans to attend Coastal Alabama Community College and major in welding.
- John Bashore – son of Genia Bashore and Dave Bashore, Northview High School. John plans to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy and major in Aerospace Engineering.
- Hunter Borelli – son of Anthony and Robyn Borelli, Northview High School. Hunter is attending Pensacola State College and plans to attend the University of West Florida to major in Cybersecurity.
- Kaitlin Gafford – daughter of Jamie and Brandy Gafford, Northview High School. Kaitlin plans to attend the University of West Florida and major in Physical Therapy.
- Zane Gurganus – son of Kelly and Jason Gurganus, Northview High School. Zane plans to attend the University of West Florida and major in Mechanical Engineering.
- Brady Howell – son of Alan and Jaime Howell, Escambia Academy. Brady plans to attend The University of Alabama and major in Civil / Environmental Engineering.
- Ethan Kilburn – son of Autumn and Brad Gibbs, Northview High School. Ethan plans to attend the University of West Florida and earn a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity. He also plans to join the ROTC at UWF and commission into the Army National Guard.
- Taylor Levins – daughter of Tony and Kari Levins, Northview High School. Taylor plans to attend Pensacola State College and transfer to the University of West Florida and major in Elementary Education. She also plans to attain her real estate license.
- Christopher Long – son of Thelma Long, Marty Long, and Natasha Hodges, Escambia Academy. Christopher plans to attend Huntingdon College and major in Sports Management.
- Makayla Ramsey – daughter of Kellie Odom and Matt Ramsey, Northview High School. Makayla plans to attend the University of West Florida and major in Nursing with plans to become a Pediatric Nurse.
- Aniya Stots – daughter of Cynthia and Calvin Stots, Escambia County High School. Aniya plans to attend Miles College and major in Biology for a degree in Nursing.
Speaker for the evening was Venus McGhee Prince, member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who returned home in April 2019 to serve Wind Creek Hospitality as Chief Compliance Officer. Prince graduated from Harvard in 1995 and earned her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. After law school graduation, Venus served for a year as an appellate clerk to the Alaska Supreme Court. Prince has had a stellar career serving as the Tribe’s Attorney General from 2006 to 2013 and two years as the Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of Interior. Most recently, she worked in the Native American Affairs team at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Washington, D.C.
In addition to being Wind Creek’s CCO, Prince continues to serve as the Secretary for the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Section Board and a member of the American Law Institute.
She talked about growing up poor in Atmore, then in New Orleans, and back to Atmore. With her family’s help she was able to take advantage of opportunities that came her way – and she didn’t squander a one.
“All of my education, both academically and experientially, has led me to this point,” she said Thursday evening. “Every class mattered. Every opportunity mattered. Every challenge mattered. Every person I met mattered.
“I was in your shoes 30 years ago. You are here today because you have already done well academically. Let your education be about more than just what you learn in the classroom.
“Whether here in Atmore or halfway around the world, believe in yourself, trust in yourself. You will be scared, you will fail, but you will learn and you will succeed. And you’ll have many adventures along the way.
“I leave you with the last words on the typewriter from Sig Olson, a famous nature writer from Minnesota. My husband’s grandfather repeated this quote to him growing up, and I wear this bracelet engraved with it: ‘A new adventure is coming, and I know it will be a good one.’
“Congratulations and good luck on your life’s adventure!”