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.
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
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!
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.
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: