Posts Tagged ‘graduation’


Sunday, October 11th, 2015

It was a great day on Friday, October 2nd as the freshmen class at Austin-East Magnet High School accepted the challenge to meet all requirements of the Knox County School system to graduate on time and earn their Project GRAD scholarship.

The theme for the annual “I Will Graduate Ceremony” was “What’s Your Focus?” This was a good question to challenge the Class of 2019 as the students are embarking on this leg of their educational journey and need to figure what is their focus.

Mrs. Renee Kesler (Executive Director, Beck Cultural Exchange Center) was the guest speaker for the ceremony and she was very inspiring and motivational as she challenged the class to do their best and graduate.

Congratulations Class of 2019 you’re on your way!!!


2014 Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner Held

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The 2014 Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner was another success.

We were honored to have Tearsa Smith and Bo Williams (WATE TV anchors) to emcee the program this and they were dynamic as they kept the crowd entertained and energized.

A number is scholars who have successfully graduated from college participated in the program this year. It was great to have these scholars return to Project GRAD and give back by serving on the program in some capacity or by imparting wisdom by sharing their testimony with them. Shawn Hatmaker (Class of 2007 GRAD Scholar, Austin East Magnet High School) shared wise advice with the graduating seniors as he talked about the difference the Project GRAD continues to make in his life even following graduation from college. Shawn graduated from Tennessee State University in 2011 with a degree in Political Science and a focus on international relations and terrorist studies. He is presently working for Representative Timothy Hill as an Executive Assistant and is working to be certified in ministry as a Pastor. Other scholars on program were Jonathan Blair (Class of 2008 Fulton High School) and Christie Banks (Class of 2007, Fulton High School).

There’s always suspense surrounding the person selected to receive the “Caught Doing Right For Kids” Award each year. The award recipient this year was equally surprised and very deserving of the honor. Rosalyn Tillman was the award winner this year and she was caught completely by surprised but was also very happy to receive the award that recognized her for service to kids and for always being caught doing what’s right for kids. Dean Tillman (as she is affectionately known) has been the Dean/Principal of the Summer Institute at Pellissippi State since it began and is responsible for the success of the program.

Cody and Kensey Zimmerman closed the program with a beautiful musical selection. Kensey is a Class of 2007  GRAD scholar from Fulton High School. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies in 2011 from the University of Tennessee. In 2013 she graduated with a Master’s in Communication and Information with a concentration in Communication Studies from the University of Tennessee also.

There were 140 Scholars in this graduating class that met all qualifications of the GRAD scholarship and will be attending colleges/universities in several states this fall. Congratulations Class of 2014 Scholarship Recipients.

Photos of the dinner wp-content/gallery/2014-scholars-celebration-dinner


Monday, April 30th, 2012

Lori Tucker (WATE News Anchor) opened the program and introduced Larry Mauldin (Project GRAD Board Chair) who welcomed the more than 600 people to the Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner. Larry then introduced Jack Miller (Class of 2005 GRAD Scholar, Fulton High School) who came to the stage to perform the Invocation. Prior to offering his prayer, Jack shared his experiences with Project GRAD with those in attendance. Jack spoke of his decision to attend college, left to go to work and then returned when he discovered that education is important.

Following dinner, a video was shown that highlighted “Teachers of the Year.” this video was created by staff members Kelly Headrick and Michelle McArthur (School Climate Coaches). The video was reflective of teachers who were nominated by their peers for “Teacher of the Year” in Knox County Schools. As the video played, teachers in the audience clapped for their peers as GRAD scholars also expressed their appreciation.

Scholars who spoke to the audience and shared their reflections were Jessica Tarver (Class of 2012, Fulton High School) and Cordy Cox (Class of 2012, Austin-East high School), Jessica reflected on her high school experience and GRAD experience. She shared that by attending the Summer Institutes she made up her mind about attending college and decided to pursue a major in journalism. Cordy Cox reflected on his school years as he thanked those who had helped him in elementary, middle and high school. He also thanked his parents, members of Knox County Schools, Project GRAD Knoxville staff and the Project GRAD Knoxville Board of Directors. Cordy also shared his Summer Institute experiences as he talked about rising early to attend classes and how much the Institutes helped to prepare him for college. Cordy plans to attend college and major in mathematics.

PGK College Graduates didn’t speak this year but those in attendance were recognized. During the recognition, a special video was played that pictured several graduates in their cap and gown. The video also included testimonials from parents and students who have been impacted by Project GRAD. The video was powerful as the audience heard from parents and students about their experience with Project GRAD and all of the support they receive from College Support Coach Ms. Annette Long.

This year’s “Caught Doing Right For Kids” Award was given to an outstanding educator and longtime community member who is very deserving of the honor. Reverend Dr. Montina B. Jones was named the award winner and received a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage accompanied by her husband to receive the award. As Dr. Jones received this award, she spoke to the audience and shared some of her life story as she told scholars about her parents not having the money to send her to college and their disappointment. Dr. Jones persevered and paid her way thru college by working and going to school and has now earned her Ph.D. Dr. Montina Jones is Senior Advisor for High Needs Schools for Knox County Schools and began working within the school system as a Math and Science teacher at Beardsley Middle School, a teacher a Eastport Elementary, Assistant Principal at South Doyle Middle School, Assistant Principal at Austin-East High School and Principal at Vine Middle Magnet School before being promoted to Central Office in 2003 as Director of Urban Schools. Dr. Jones has received awards in education and for community service. She serves as a Board member for Project GRAD Knoxville, Emerald Youth Foundation, Knox Area Urban League and KCDC. Congratulations Reverend Dr. Montina B. Jones – you have been “Caught Doing Right For Kids.”

It was an honor to have Ms. Betty Jo Hamilton as the mace bearer for the Scholars Procession this year. She was very proud and thoroughly enjoyed leading the Scholars thru the ballroom to receive their medallion and certificate. Ms. Hamilton has been a teacher with the Knox County School system for 56 years.

The program closed with a special spoken word selection performed by Mrs. Rhea Carmon (Teacher, Austin-East High School) aka “Rhea Sunshine.” The selection performed by Rhea was written by her exclusively for this year’s Scholars and she told them “It’s Your Time!”

One hundred forty two (142) Scholars of the Class of 2012 have earned the Project GRAD Scholarship. Congratulations Scholars!

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this year’s dinner a success.






2012 Celebration of Stars Dinner

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Excitement is building as time draws near for this years “Celebration of Stars” dinner to honor graduating seniors of the Class of 2012. Approximately 146 Scholars will be honored for their achievements on this very special evening. The Dinner will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center on Sunday, April 22, 2012 with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. and the program beginning at 5:00 p.m. It will be a great evening.