Last item for navigation
Valedictorians and Salutatorians 2021
Posted on 05/05/2021
RCHS 2021 Valedictorian Nathan Crafts with his family and RCHS administrators and staffConyers, Ga. – Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) congratulates the Valedictorians and Salutatorians of the Class of 2021. The Valedictorians and Salutatorians were notified in a surprise announcement the morning of Friday, March 26, 2021 by a caravan of administrators, counselors, teachers, and School Resource Officers (SROs) driving to each student’s home to present a yard sign and celebrate the remarkable accomplishment of these top scholars who achieved despite the challenges this pandemic year. They will lead their respective senior classes in their school’s graduation ceremony, which is scheduled to be held in-person this year. The Salem High School (SHS) graduation ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at SHS; the Rockdale County High School (RCHS) and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology (RMSST) graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, May 27, 2021 at RCHS; the Heritage High School (HHS) graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 28, 2021 at HHS. For more information, please visit

To see photos from the announcements, scroll down or CLICK HERE or visit our Facebook page at


HHS Valedictorian
Name:  Mackenzie Sealy

Family:  Schad Sealy (dad), Christal Sealy (mom), Schase Sealy (older brother)
Intended College/University:  Georgia State University Honor College
Intended Major:  Nursing
Intended Career Field:  Healthcare (Traveling Registered Nurse)
RCPS Schools Attended:  Conyers Middle, Heritage High, Rockdale Career Academy
Awards/Scholarships:  Superintendent’s Academic Award
Extracurricular Activities:  National Honors Society, Beta Club, RCA Ambassadors
Favorite Subjects:  Healthcare Science & Math
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
Mr. Moore and Ms. Betty Conover at Conyers Middle School. Ms. Conover was one of the first teachers I met once I moved to Conyers, and she really played a key role in my development of using my voice as an instrument of knowledge. Ms. Conover was the AVID instructor at CMS, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. She always focused on helping her students learn how to not shrink back or “bite their tongue” when it comes to using their brainpower, and sharing it with others. Spending a year with Ms. Conover in AVID was truly instrumental to my development in becoming more open to speaking in front of classmates, as well as anyone else who I needed to speak in front of.
Mr. Moore: I moved to Georgia the summer before my 8th grade year started. There was so much confusion once school started, dealing with getting me into the correct classes. Once I was placed in Mr. Moore’s Carnegie coordinate algebra class, I was worried about being behind from missing the majority of the first semester. But Mr. Moore was able to get me completely caught up with all the material I had missed, and I ended up doing great in the class. Taking the coordinate algebra course was vital to enabling my schedule to fall into place once I began taking Dual Enrollment courses. Mr. Moore has a way of seeming so genuinely interested in every one of his students getting the quality education they need to receive, and that was so important to me. I’ll always remember that about him.
Best high school experience:
Through the Work-Based Learning program at RCA, I was able to have an internship, as a high school student, at a doctor’s office. I started working there in August of 2020, and I’m still there now. By working at the doctor’s office, I am able to gain so much experience that will be so useful to me once I begin my career in healthcare.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Valedictorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
Seeing and hearing the caravan come up my street with all the sirens scared me and caught me so off guard because I had no idea what was going on. But after I heard (HHS Principal) Mrs. Richards announce my name, I was beyond excited! It was such a special moment. I’ve been ranked number 2 since the beginning of my junior year. So, ever since then I’ve had the very faint hope of becoming number 1, but I was primarily focused on just keeping my place of number 2. So, once I heard that I had become the valedictorian of my class I was so shocked and literally overjoyed. Hearing that news just validated all the hard work I had done throughout my entire schooling experience.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
 My family and friends all say that they weren’t surprised, because they always see me stressing over some school assignment, but nevertheless, they were super excited and extremely proud of me once they heard the news.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
I look forward to traveling this summer with my ministry as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It has always been a dream of mine to travel as many places as I can. So, this summer, if the pandemic allows me to, I plan to begin that journey, along with some friends of course.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
This past year was extremely difficult for me, considering the circumstances. But one thing that I really realized is that there is never time for slacking. There will never be time to let up on your work ethic, and lose sight of your goals. Staying diligent and always remaining focused is the key to success
Advice for freshmen:
My advice for a freshman would be to never be afraid to be different and stand out amongst others. One thing I’ve noticed while going through high school is that often, when you’re taking important steps and decisions in order to achieve your goals, you may be the only one on that path. That alone may be discouraging to someone who is afraid to stand out. But if you want to be truly successful, don’t let the fact that you may be on your own in that moment discourage your progress. Let others catch up to you.

HHS Salutatorian
Name:  Jaca Lynn Buddenbaum

Family:  Lisa and Tony Morton (mom and stepdad), David and Laura Buddenbaum (dad and stepmom), Janet and Sam Rawls and Warren and Judie Buddenbaum (grandparents)   
Intended College/University (or deciding between):  University of Georgia, Berry, or Kennesaw State  
Intended Major:   Undecided  
Intended Career Field:  Undecided  
RCPS Schools Attended:   Peeks Chapel Elementary, Lorraine Elementary, Barksdale Elementary, Davis Middle, Heritage High, Rockdale Career Academy.
Awards/Scholarships:  Superintendent’s Academic Award, Zell Miller Scholarship, UGA Certificate of Merit, Berry Academic Scholarship
Extracurricular Activities:  Technical Theater, Culinary Arts, and FCCLA
Favorite Subjects:  History and World Languages  
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
My freshman and sophomore year math teacher, Mrs. Elder, really helped me to understand and gain an appreciation for math as I’ve never really been a math person. I also want to thank Ms. Ray, my Spanish and Italian teacher, for helping me develop my love for world languages.
Best high school experience:
Being a part of winning the State One Act Competition in my freshman year and then winning again and getting to perform at the International Thespian Conference in my sophomore year.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Salutatorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
I was very shocked and overwhelmed. I really didn’t see this honor coming to me so when the caravan arrived, I was confused at first, but then when I saw my dad there as well Mrs. Richards, it kind of sunk in that it was real and I was super overwhelmed.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
I typically don’t like surprises, so I think they were excited about seeing my reaction. Afterwards everyone told me they were very proud and excited for me. I was very happy that my family and friend were able to see the caravan arrive at my house and I think that made it even more memorable.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?  
I look forward to having time to relax, read, cook and craft.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
I think I learned not to take certain events and circumstances for granted because you never know what is going to happen. There were many things I was looking forward to doing that didn’t happen, and now I won’t get to do those things.
Advice for freshmen:  
Try to get involved and be a part of things you're interested in as that’s where you develop the relationships and support that will be there for you throughout high school.


RCHS Valedictorian
Name:  Nathan Avery Crafts

Family:  Monica Crafts (mother), Norman Crafts (father), Noah Crafts and Morgan Crafts (siblings)
Intended College/University:  Georgia State University
Intended Major:  Art
Intended Career Field:  Concept Artist
RCPS Schools Attended:  Flat Shoals Elementary, Honey Creek Elementary, Memorial Middle, Rockdale County High, Rockdale Career Academy.
Awards/Scholarships:  Principal’s List, RCHS & RCA; Graduating with Honors from Clayton State University, Associate of Science degree (May 1st); Dean’s List, Clayton State University (age 15-16), Dual Enrollment; Superintendent’s Academic Award (top 10 of class); Georgia Certificate of Merit for outstanding academic achievement; Rensselaer Medal Award for outstanding academic achievement in mathematics and science
Extracurricular Activities: Mu Alpha Theta (Mathematics Honor Society); National Honor Society; Skills U.S.A: Team member; Legislative Page, Georgia House of Representatives; Bruce Street Historic Cemetery Clean Up Leader; H.O.M.E. (Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure) volunteer for annual coat and toy drive and special fundraising events; Student Tutor/Mentor; A.W.A.R.E. Wildlife Center volunteer
Favorite Subjects:  Psychology, Art
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
The most memorable help that I have gotten is from my graphic design teacher at RCA, Shaun Freeman. Over the past three years of being in his class, he has not only helped me develop my art skills, but he has also helped me explore pathways for my future career.
Best high school experience:  
Friends are irreplaceable. My friends contributed to my high school experience and without them, high school would not have been very interesting.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Valedictorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
I wasn’t really surprised that I was named Valedictorian. With all the work I’ve put in and the exceptional support and encouragement from my family and my counselors, Shayla Thompson and Karen Hardy, it came as no surprise. As for the caravan, I was incredibly surprised once I saw it. I’m very thankful for the overwhelming amount of support.
What was your family’s and friends’ reaction?
My whole family was in on the surprise, but everyone was very excited for me.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
This past year has been very difficult for a lot of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, hope for a better future keeps me moving forward.
Advice for freshmen:
Explore. Education takes many forms in RCPS. With so many different educational options, you have the ability to explore different pathways and sample career options. Dual enrollment, which is open to most students, is a good way to experience college level courses. Additionally, Rockdale Career Academy is a very good place to refine specific skills and hone in on a future career.

RCHS Salutatorian
Name:  Alexis Makayla Jones

Family:  Sabrina Jones (mom), Tee Jones (dad), Allison Jones (younger sister), Tee Jr. (brother), Sydney Jones (youngest sister)
Intended College/University:  Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M University) in the fall on a softball scholarship.
Intended Major:  Nursing
Intended Career Field:  Healthcare Field
Schools Attended:  E.L. Bouie Sr. Traditional Theme school in DeKalb County, grades K-5. Davis Middle School, grades 6-8.  Rockdale Magnet 9th grade. Rockdale Magnet and Rockdale Career Academy 10th grade.  RCA, RCHS and Point University 11th and 12th grade.
Awards/Scholarships: Softball Scholarship to Florida A&M University, Georgia Certificate of Merit (top 5 percent of juniors in Georgia), Superintendent’s Academic Award
Extracurricular Activities:  I enjoy softball, track, traveling and shopping.
Memorable help from a Teacher/Staff/Mentor:  
I am forever grateful to Mr. Williams, the assistant director at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.  Mr. Williams would always check on me and ask how I was doing in all my classes, especially Pre-Calculus as that was the class I struggled in most.
Best high school experience:
I don’t have a specific high school experience that stands out to me, but my most memorable experiences have happened on the track and softball field.  I will never forget when I hit a walk off to win the game on senior night.  Rockdale had not won a senior night in at least 4 years prior.  I will also never forget the many days I’d sit in the weight room and chat with Coach Baldwin, my beloved track coach and one of my favorite teachers, may he rest in peace.  
What was your reaction when you found out you were Salutatorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
I knew that I was ranked number 2 in my class, but I was unaware of when Valedictorian/Salutatorian would be finalized.  I was very surprised when I heard sirens and car horns outside my home.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
The main reaction from my family and friends was shock.  Many people did not realize how smart I was, especially my siblings. I always share the sports side of my life, so everyone was shocked that I also excel in the classroom. My grandma and parents were extremely proud of me.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
This summer I look forward to packing up my things and moving into my beautiful dorm at Florida A&M University.
What are your takeaways from this past year?  
This past year has taught me to be a self-motivator.  Learning virtually has been a challenge as I don’t have to physically get up and go.  While it is comfortable to learn virtually it is also very easy to fall asleep and get behind in classes.
Advice for Freshmen:
My advice for freshmen would be to do work ahead of time so that you don’t feel stressed.  Starting an assignment when its given will help you to not be behind on work by the end of the week.  Nobody wants to be doing homework all weekend.
Additional thoughts:
Being salutatorian was never my goal, it just happened. I got to this point by submitting all my assignments and making sure they were of high quality. I grew up knowing that success was important to me and good grades were the first step to success.


RMSST Valedictorian
Name: Gabrielle Wood

Family:  Maureen Wood (mom), David Wood (dad), Laila Wood (sister), Brianna Wood (sister)
Intended College/University (or deciding between):  Dual degree with Spelman College and Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Howard University, University of Georgia, Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Intended Major:  Environmental Engineering (or Chemical Engineering)
Intended Career Field:  Environmental Engineering and Business
RCPS Schools Attended:  J.H. House Elementary, Memorial Middle, and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology
Awards/Scholarships:  Foundation Fellowship Scholarship at UGA; Recipient of Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship; Finalist for the Karsh STEM Scholars program at Howard University; National Merit Commended Scholar; Furman University Scholar; Georgia Certificate of Merit Scholar; Wellesley Book Award; American Meteorological Society Award, American Psychological Association Award, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award at Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
Extracurricular Activities:  Varsity and Club Softball Starting Pitcher, Founder/President Magnet Inc Entrepreneurship club. RCHS TREE (Treehuggers Responsible for Earth and Environment) Club, Rockdale Youth Leadership, Student Council. Golf (2021 is my first season playing. I really enjoy it. It is a good way to get out of the house these days with a socially distanced sport). Swim Team (2018-2019; I love to swim; I did not continue because of the time commitment and conflicts with training for softball season.)
Favorite Subjects:  Math, Social Studies (Especially US Government and Politics, and Macroeconomics), Science (Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science)
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
Mr. Scott Robinson and his help with the Magnet Inc. Entrepreneurship club and scientific research. Dr. Garner teaching calculus. It is a hard class, but he is very engaging. Mrs. Wisneweski her AP Seminar class has helped me greatly improve my research, analysis, and writing skills. Mrs. Williams and her engineering and computer science classes have exposed me to a variety of topics and allowed me to explore without limits. Ms. Cobb, my counselor, has helped me so much during this college and scholarship application process.
Best high school experience:
This is hard to determine exactly, but I think my best high school experience would have to be designing and building a three-story house with a rooftop garden out of popsicle sticks. It was a project for my Engineering Applications class in 10th grade. I worked on it with a friend. It was challenging, fun, and rewarding when we finally finished it. It looked amazing.  
What was your reaction when you found out you were Valedictorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
I was very surprised by the caravan this morning.  Initially, I just saw a police car and one other car, so I thought that someone was getting pulled over. My parents told me they were here for me, and more cars started pulling up and honking. I thought I was in trouble for something at first and everyone was upset with me. Then, I realized it was a drive-by, but I had no idea what for. It wasn't my birthday. Finally, I saw everyone step out of their cars, and I realized that the lady who works for the county, some of the school staff, and some teachers were there. I finally figured out that the caravan was for my being named Valedictorian. I was very surprised and very grateful for the recognition.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
My family and friends were all very excited for me and proud.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
I look forward to relaxing, hopefully hanging out with friends, swimming, golfing when it's not too hot outside, speaking Spanish regularly, preparing for college, and having a good time.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
This past year has helped me to slow down and reflect on life, something I should continue to do even after the pandemic. I have also taken away from this year the importance of cherishing the relationships I have with my family and friends.  
Advice for freshmen:
Enjoy every moment. Don't let anything or anyone worry you or stress you out. I don't care how big they tell you the project, homework, or test... how important the meeting is, how challenging the competition is. Don't lose sleep, don't lose sanity.  You decide what your priorities are, you plan to do what you need to do, and that's the end of it. Secondly, don't regret not speaking up or trying something new. Explore, have fun. The worst thing someone can say to you is "no."

RMSST Salutatorian
Name:  Ava Bailey

Family:  Wake and Kim Bailey
Intended College/University:  Duke University
Intended Major:  Physics
Intended Career Field:  Scientific research
RCPS Schools Attended:  Lorraine Elementary, Memorial Middle, Davis Middle, Rockdale Magnet School
Awards:  National AP Scholar, Georgia Certificate of Merit Winner, Furman Scholar, two-time presenter at the Georgia Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, presenter at the Japan Super Science Fair, presenter at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, 3rd Honors at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair.
Scholarships:  Snapping Shoals EMC Washington Youth Tour Scholarship, Snapping Shoals Bradley K. Thomas Scholarship
Extracurricular Activities:  Varsity tennis, Student Council, Science Team, Women on the Way to Success
Favorite Subjects:  Physics, calculus, biology
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
The most influential exchange I had with a teacher would have to be when Ms. Caroline Snell introduced me to scientific research in sixth grade. She always believed in me and pushed me to do my best work, and that attitude carried over into my high school academics which played a significant role in my motivation to do my best in school and is one of the reasons I am now the salutatorian.
Best high school experience:
Traveling to Kobe, Japan for the Super Science Fair.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Salutatorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
I was honored to be named Salutatorian and very grateful that so many amazing staff members took the time to help recognize me.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
My family and friends were so excited to see my hard work pay off.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
Over the summer I plan to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible before heading to school in August.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
Some of the most important things this weird senior year has taught me is to be adaptable and seize every opportunity. Things will not always go according to plan, and having the skills to adapt and move forward is crucial in the real world. Because life is so variable, sometimes you will miss out on greatly anticipated opportunities, so make the most out of the experiences that are presented to you.
Advice for freshmen:
Set goals for yourself, and never lose sight of them. My own internal goals for academic success were the primary motivating force for me.  


SHS Valedictorian
Name:  Alana Williamson

Family:  Melissa Williamson (mother), Bobby Williamson (father), Michael Williamson (brother)
Intended College/University:  Honors College at Georgia State University.
Intended Major:  Biology
Intended Career Field:  I hope to go on to get a medical degree and practice as a family physician.
RCPS Schools Attended:  Salem High School (11th and 12th grades)
Awards/Scholarships:  National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar, Zell Miller Scholarship, GSU 1913 Founders Scholarship
Extracurricular Activities:  At my previous high school, I got the bulk of my volunteer hours from helping in the cafeteria during lunch. I loved those days, not because I got to leave class, but because of how much fun I had serving others. I also enjoy helping people with their schoolwork outside of class. When I was a freshman, I got together with a few upperclassmen and formed a math tutoring club. It's such a good feeling to see yourself making a positive difference in another person's life, even if it's just helping them understand a math problem.
Favorite Subjects:  Any Math, Biology, Chemistry, and Art
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
I owe a huge thank-you to Candice Anderson, my counselor. When I was first going through the process of switching schools before my junior year, there were so many forms to fill out, people to talk to, and deadlines to meet. I was constantly worried that I was forgetting something or doing something wrong that could potentially jeopardize my high school career. I heavily relied on Ms. Anderson to help guide me through the whole process. If I didn't have her to break huge tasks down for me and let me know what I needed to do, I doubt that I would have been as successful as I have been these last few years. I appreciate how much she does for me and other students so, so much.
Best high school experience:
I think that all my favorite moments were when my parents, instructors, and other people I look up to told me how proud they were of me: when my parents catch a glimpse of a good grade I made and give me a hug, when Ms. Anderson or Mr. Porter tell me over video calls that I'm doing well and to keep up the good work, when one of my teachers uses my work as an example or hands me a test back and there's a little compliment or some words of encouragement written in red pen in the margins. All of these moments are small, not more than a few seconds each, but the warm feeling of pride that I get every single time compounds, slowly and pleasantly building up inside of me. I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful for all the people who have supported me as I grew and continue to grow. Those little words of praise mean absolutely everything to me, and I'm so happy that I've surpassed people's expectations. I'm glad that I'm making you proud; it's because of you that I'm where I am today.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Valedictorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
Thanks to the little class ranking at the bottom of my transcript, I knew I was in the running for Valedictorian a little while beforehand. I was surprised and quite flattered when I first found out, but I knew I obviously had to keep working hard if I wanted to keep that ranking. I, however, was not expecting an entire caravan to pull up in front of my house and congratulate me. I heard it before I saw it. The honking of the car horns and all the people coming onto my front yard startled me at first, but I was honored that everyone went out of their way to make such a huge commotion over me. I wasn't expecting it, but the moment was very sweet.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?
My little brother was watching the whole thing from inside. He seemed surprised, maybe more so than I was. He teased me a little bit when I came back inside, saying it was good I wasn't still wearing my pajamas. My mom and dad both hugged me and told me how proud they were of me.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
I'm not really too sure yet. I'll probably take some time over the break to unwind, draw, and play some video games I've been meaning to get to. If current world affairs allow it, I might get a part-time job to help cushion my remaining college costs.
What are your takeaways from this past year?
This last school year has been demanding for everyone, to say the least. I think the biggest thing I've took from it is how to adapt to circumstances that might not be ideal. Online classes were a sudden change, but I've been working hard and trying my best to come out on top.
Advice for freshmen:
Be aware of what opportunities you have! It's way too easy to miss out on awesome experiences if you don't look for them. I didn't know that you could take Dual Enrollment classes in person on a college campus until late in my sophomore year. If you feel like you're being held back or you're not able to reach your full academic potential, reach out! Do research. When you're a freshman, senior year feels like it's ages away, but it will arrive before you know it. Don't waste time. Get out there and make the most of every moment.

SHS Salutatorian
Name:  Nazarene Campodonico

Family:  Taina Hernandez (mom), Morgan Ricks (dad), Alexander Campodonico (brother), Anais Ricks (sister), Judah Ricks (brother)
Intended College/University (or deciding between):  Georgia College, Nazareth College, Berry College.
Intended Major:  Double major in Music Therapy and Theatre.
Intended Career Field:  Music Therapist
RCPS Schools Attended:  Memorial Middle, Salem High, Rockdale Career Academy.
Awards/Scholarships:  Wellesley Book Award & The Thespian Honor Society Student Achievement Award.
Extracurricular Activities:  I love to perform in theatre productions, sing, and blog!
Favorite Subjects:  English!
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:
My junior year, I was struggling in math class. I had my first C, which was a moment of panic for me! No matter how hard I studied and practiced math, I just could not grasp the content or pass any tests. I ended up speaking with my math teacher at the time, Dr. Wisdom, and he encouraged me to keep trying. He made me realize that I simply needed to push myself more. A year later, I began a Dual Enrollment math class. Oddly enough, I'm now doing the best that I've ever done in a math class! I believe that if Dr. Wisdom didn't encourage me to push myself, I wouldn't be as confident in my math classes as I am today.
Best high school experience:
Every year, the Salem theatre department has a potluck day. We spend the day presenting awards to each other, eating, and cleaning the school's basement that is full of old sets. In 2019, which was the last potluck we did due to the pandemic, some students brought water balloons. We spent hours running around and throwing water balloons at each other! It was so fun to be able to share that experience with my friends and (in my opinion) win our water balloon game.
What was your reaction when you found out you were Salutatorian and your reaction to seeing the announcement caravan?
It's exciting to know that I've been named Salutatorian. It's been my goal since middle school, and if I'm honest, it was a bit emotional for me to know that I achieved it. I was in shock to see the caravan. I heard police sirens and was worried that someone in the neighborhood was hurt but was really surprised to see Salem's staff cheering for me.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?  
My parents already knew about the surprise, so they weren't as shocked as me, but they certainly were happy for me. My mom was actually at work at the time and she told me that she was watching the whole celebration from her phone through our doorbell camera!
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?
I really want to use my time over the summer to spend time with my siblings. I know that being in college will keep me a bit more busy than usual, so I really want to spend time with my younger siblings when I have the chance. They get big so fast!
What are your takeaways from this past year?  
I've certainly learned to count my blessings and be grateful for what's around me. It's the biggest lesson of 2020/2021, for me.
Advice for freshmen:
To all my incoming freshmen, don't be afraid to speak up. If you're having trouble in a class, say something. If you are struggling, speak up. There are so many people who want to help you and see you thrive within the next four years of your life. High school will be the best four years of your life so far, I promise!
Additional thoughts:
Thank you to all of the amazing staff at Salem High School and Rockdale Career Academy that have supported me these last few years. I have two families: One at home, and one at school.

Image with RCPS logo and headshots of each student, says "RCPS VALEDICTORIANS & SALUTATORIANS CLASS OF 2021 Heritage High School Valedictorian Mackenzie Sealy College: Georgia State University Honors College Intended Major: Nursing Salutatorian Jaca Buddenbaum College: Deciding between UGA, Berry College, Kennesaw State Intended Major: Undecided Rockdale County High School Valedictorian Nathan Crafts College: Georgia State University Intended Major: Concept Artist Salutatorian Alexis Jones College: Florida A&M University Intended Major: Nursing Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology Valedictorian Gabrielle Wood College: Deciding between dual degree with Spelman College and Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Howard University, UGA, Vanderbilt University, MIT Intended Major: Environmental or Chemical Engineering Salutatorian Ava Bailey College: Duke University Intended Major: Physics Salem High School Valedictorian Alana Williamson College: Georgia State University Honors College Intended Major: Biology Salutatorian Nazarene Campodonico College: Deciding between Georgia College, Nazareth College, Berry College. Intended Major: Music Therapy and Theatre Full article at"