Archive for the ‘Project GRAD Knoxville News’ Category

2013 “WALK” was a “SUCCESS”

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Volunteers came out on a beautiful Saturday morning to participate in this year’s “Walk For Success.”

It was a great day and many of the volunteers reported having SUCCESSFUL visits with students and their parents.

Thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday and gave of your time for this event. We could not have done it without you.

Schools participating in the “Walk” were Beaumont, Christenberry, Sarah Moore Greene, Spring Hill, Vine Middle, and Whittle Springs.



Monday, July 1st, 2013

High school students successfully completed the 2013 Summer Institutes in June. Summer Institutes were held at the University of Tennessee for rising juniors and at Pellissippi State Community College for rising sophomores from Austin-East and Fulton High Schools.  Pellissippi State’s Institute began on Wednesday, May 29th  with approximately 145 students  in attendance and concluded on Wednesday June 19th. At the University of Tennessee’s Institute, 146 students were divided into two groups and designated a week to participate in the Institute and have the opportunity to experience residential living on a college campus.


Students attending the University of Tennessee Institute experienced life on a college and woke early each morning after staying up late to work on homework and a class project. Eight academic tracks were offered to students: Business and Entrepreneurship; Communications; Public Health; Honors; Sports and Recreation Management; Sports Science; STEM and Vocation  in addition to core subjects  Math, English and college research skills. During closing ceremonies, class members from each track made a presentation to highlight what they learned during the week. In summary, students learned how to conduct a SWOT analysis and the purpose of such an instrument in business and in Communications the students learned the finer points of public speaking to include tips on preparing for a speech and effectively speaking to an audience.

Students also served the community by volunteering at several local organizations:  SEEED (Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development –,  Odd Fellows Cemetery where they cleaned debris, Knox Area Rescue Ministries, and Phyllis Wheatley YWCA.


Approximately 150 rising sophomores participated in the Summer Institute at Pellissippi State Community College. Students attending Pellissippi State rose early each morning to commute to the Hardin Valley campus.

The PSCC Institute was divided into four academes: (1) Working Together to Live Together where students designed a new housing community; (2) GreenSTEM Academy where students created green roofs (gardens on top of roofs) using their English, Math, Science and Art skills; (3) RoboNation Academy explored the world of robotics and created fully functioning robots; (4) The Alternative Energy Academy used solar power as an alternative energy source to build machines.

At the closing ceremony, Dr. Anthony Wise congratulated students for successfully completing the Institute and encouraged them to “dream about where you are going to be and what you want to do” and reminded them to reflect on what you learned during this experience.”

Congratulations Scholars!

Thank you to Pellissippi State Community College and the University of Tennessee for hosting the Summer Institutes and for your hard work and dedication.


News articles:



UT - 



Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

A contest was held at Vine Middle School and students were asked to answer the following question. Entries were submitted to a panel of judges who selected a winner after a review. The essay was written to answer “What is a dream you have for your life and what needs to happen to achieve that dream?”

The winner is a student who attends Vine Middle Magnet. She was so excited to have been selected as the winner for this contest.  Read the winning essay:

Here is the Vine 8th grade essay winner, Hannah McCann. She is in Ms. Lafreniere’s class. The essay was written to answer “What is a dream you have for your life and what needs to happen to achieve that dream?”



 Hannah McCann


“Lift Every Voice” College Essay Contest

                People say what is your dream, the real question is what is a dream? A dream can be pictures you see in your head while sleeping or they can be future goals for yourself, and in the topic chosen for this essay I believe it means the future goals set for a humans. I want to ask you what your dream is. Some children say I want to be a doctor or a writer or even a nurse. My dream is a bit different.

My dream is to be a zoologist. Sounds very broad doesn’t it., well I want to work with the birds. For a long time since I was little I said I WAS going to be a veterinarian. Well, on my thirteenth birthday I flew to Tampa Florida. While I was down there I went to Busch gardens. I went to the bird encloser; in this area you could feed the birds nectar. The man there saw how great I was with the birds that he taught me to call, feed, and help the birds. I worked as a zoologist for 3 hours. I had a blast.

As for how to get there I have a elaborate plan. Throughout high school I want to be in every single science class possible. I’m also going to try to get scholarships. Then I’m going to get at least a 24 on my act. Then I’m going to apply for University of Tennessee. When I get in I’m going to major in veterinary sciences and I’m going to apply to volunteer at the Knoxville zoo I also am going to major in bird anatomy. To some people my plan I very extravagant for a 8th grader but I know where I am going.

In conclusion I believe that it’s very important to dream. Without dreams we would have no imagination. I will never let go of my dream I want to succeed. You should never let your dreams disappear. An unfulfilled dream is my worst nightmare.




Early College Awareness Project (ECAP) 2013

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

The downpour of rain  did not prevent the more than 100 students and parents participating in the ECAP tour on an early Saturday morning in April. Overall, it was a good day for the students who were excited to be visiting the campus of the University of Tennessee.

Participating in the tour were elementary and middle school students accompanied by their parent(s)/guardian(s) in addition to school staff including principal’s. Tyvi Small welcomed the group before dividing everyone into two groups to attend breakout sessions.

Elementary school students attended a session facilitated by Ann Katherine Taylor and Christi Banks titled “You Can Go to College.” In this session, Ms. Taylor and Ms. Banks both told students that “THEY CAN GO TO COLLEGE” and provided tips for ensuring that they are college ready that included (1) establishing good study habits and study hard to make good grades and (2) making sure they stay in school.  Middle school students attended a session designed for their age group titled “College is Affordable.”  Eric Stokes facilitated this session and gave the students tips on applying for scholarships  and told them that the way to be successful in school is to stay in school – number one, remain focused, and study hard to make good grades. A parent said: “The college workshop for middle school students was great. Mr. Stokes did a wonderful job.”

Following the sessions, students toured the college campus while parents attended sessions designed for them. There were two sessions and the first was titled “What are Your Next Steps?” facilitated by Annette Long (PGK College Support Coach). In her experience as a College Support Coach, Ms. Long has learned that there are parents who need assistance when their son/daughter prepares to attend college following graduation.  Session 2 was titled “The Holistic Review of College Preparation” facilitated by Anton Reece. Mr. Reece shared tips from his experience in dealing with students at the University of Tennessee in his role as the Director of the Student Success Center specializing in First-Year Studies 101. Reece told parents that the preparation for college is mental and their student should conduct a basic exploration of different majors to select the best field for them. Other helpful hints included a tip that a student has to develop different strategies for studying for their different classes; for every hour that is spent in class, 2 hours outside of class should be spent studying;  memorization is important but knowing what to write down and recall is even more important when it comes to studying for class.

Current students attending the University of Tennessee shared their college experience with the group following lunch. Each of the students offered great insight to the elementary school and middle school students about their experiences in attending UT. The advice they offered echoed tips given earlier in the day to study hard, learn how to study, get involved in organizations, and stay focused. Another parent said “There was a lot of useful information. The student panel was awesome.”

WHAT IS the Early College Awareness Project (ECAP)?

The Project GRAD Parent Board of Trustees and University of Tennessee have partnered together to extend college readiness and create an early college awareness for the student and parent.   The purpose is to increase students’ awareness to the opportunities of continuing their education and to provide parents with the information they need to support their child in meeting their goals and dreams.

What are the benefits of an Early College Awareness Activity?

  • Increase students’ future opportunities
  • Provide parents with the information on how to better prepare their child for rigor studies.
  • Provide motivation and direction in a young person’s life.
  • Prepare financial plans for college.


Schools participating with ECAP this year:

Vine Middle, Whittle Springs Middle, Beaumont, Christenberry, Dogwood, Sarah Moore Greene, and South Knox

What did ECAP participants say about this experience:

  • The speakers gave very valuable information
  • Annette Long- informative data on college search – Great speaker
  • Job vs. career comparisons
  • Affording college information is valuable
  • Encouragement to Succeed/study habits are important/finances and choosing a career/test scores were covered and the importance
  • All the presentations were valuable. The college prep info was most useful
  • Information from Annette Long
  • Most enjoyable – I am very encouraged that I can go to college.
  • The parent meeting. Loved the student panel.

 Thanks to everyone who made this tour a success.



Monday, May 13th, 2013

This year, the day began with pounding rain but that was not a barrier for one hundred forty one (141) scholarship recipients who attended the Annual Celebration Dinner on  Sunday evening, April 28, 2013. This was a special evening for the scholars who were recognized for their academic accomplishments and earned the Project GRAD Scholarship.

Parents/guardians, city and county government officials, Project GRAD board members, Knox County Schools board members and staff, funders, partners, and friends of GRAD filled the ballroom at the Knoxville Convention Center. For the tenth year, the program was opened by Lori Tucker (WATE News Anchor) who serves as the Mistress of Ceremonies. Tucker then introduced Larry Mauldin (Project GRAD Knoxville Board Chair) who welcomed the more than 500 guests who were in attendance.

Sara Dean joined Mauldin on stage for the invocation. Sara is a Class of 2010 GRAD Scholar who attended Austin-East High School and now attends the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


This year’s high school speakers were Jalan Harper (Austin-East) and Brian Akins (Fulton). Both Scholars reflected on their academic journey from elementary school til high school and reminisced about the time both spent attending the Summer Institutes and the value of this experience. As they prepare to attend college in the Fall, Jalan will attend King University where she will major in Elementary Education and Brian will attend the University of Tennessee and major in Nursing. Brian was awarded a full academic scholarship and is the first member of his family to attend college. Both Jalan and Brian received a standing ovation.

College Scholars Words of Wisdom

Project GRAD college scholars attended the dinner also and were recognized when Derrick Smith (College Support Coach) joined Lori on stage for the laptop drawing. Several of the college scholars extended well wishes to the Class of 2013 via video that was shown prior to the laptop drawing.

Laptop Drawing

winners resized


Each year laptops are given to four lucky high school scholars whose name’s are drawn. The laptops are good gifts for the scholars as they prepare to enter college. Lori Tucker and Derrick Smith conducted the drawing this year and the winners were: Dylan Hubbs (Austin-East), Stephanie Faulkner (Fulton),  Jalan Harper (Austin-East) and Chris Appling (Fulton). Congratulations Scholars!


“Caught Doing Right For Kids” Award

Officer Murphy accepts award This year’s award was given to a man who everyone (especially the children) trust and depends               on to keep them safe. Officer Dennis Murphy was this year’s winner of the “Caught Doing Right For Kids” award for all that he does for kids at Beaumont Magnet and Lonsdale Elementary schools. Officer Murphy was caught off guard and very surprised to be named the winner and was temporarily at a loss for words but not for long as he thanked everyone and shared words of     inspiration. Congratulations Officer Murphy!


The Processional

As Officer Murphy was receiving his award, scholars were on the Cumberland Concourse preparing to make their entrance into the ballroom. Then it was time and as the doors opened,  Scholars were led by macebearer Desmond Humphrey (Class of 2007, Fulton). Desmond is a GRAD College Scholar who graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Political Science  and later accepted to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School where he is expected to graduate in May with a degree in law. Humphrey thanks Project GRAD for supporting him throughout his college career.

Closing Selection

The closing musical selection was performed by Mrs. Ronni Chandler (Associate Executive Director) who sang “The Impossible Dream.”

Congratulations Class of 2013 Scholars and Best Wishes for your future endeavors.

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2013 Annual Celebration Dinner this year. We appreciate your support for the students. We also thank the Jazz Ensemble that entertained our guests with beautiful music as they waited for the doors to open.


To see photos of the event: click here:

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