Several Whitfield County high school students recognized

Mar. 7—High school students in Whitfield County Schools have already had success in 2024 in music, sports and academics.

During a recent Whitfield County Board of Education meeting, students from Southeast Whitfield High School, Northwest Whitfield High School and Coahulla Creek High School were recognized by Superintendent Mike Ewton and the school board members.

Three music students received certificates of recognition for their participation in a pair of esteemed state and national student bands.

Northwest Whitfield High School senior Andy Nguyen and sophomore Henry Griffin were lauded by Ewton for their recent performances as part of the 2024 Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band in Athens.

"(GMEA) has a statewide band that about 20,000 students apply and try out for, so the fact that we have two right here from one high school, it's great," said Ewton. "Andy is also a member of my student advisory council, so he is a familiar face."

Coahulla Creek High junior and tuba player William Allen was recognized for his recent acceptance into the All-American D-Day Band that will perform in June.

"This one is quite unique," Ewton said before reading a description of the band trip. "As musical ambassadors to France, the All-American D-Day Band will perform the ceremonial music for the officially recognized commemoration and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Brittany and Normandy American Cemeteries and Memorials."

Allen will be one of 50 students from across the nation to travel to France, as well as Washington, D.C., and perform during the 80th anniversary of D-Day as part of the band.

"The band will perform the 'International Salute to Liberation' and lead the D-Day Memorial Parade in France," Ewton said. "And William, if you need somebody to go along as a chaperone, I will be available."

Several students from Southeast Whitfield High School were recognized for winning a region championship and going undefeated for the second year in a row as part of Southeast's mock trial team at the 2024 Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition in early February.

In addition to collectively winning all three ballots in each round, student Aniston Chastain received the Best Attorney award for the first and second round and Semora Brabson received the award for round three.

Yanina Santiago received the Best Witness award for round one, while Caroline Harnois received the award for rounds two and three.

"For the mock trial program, we have attorneys who volunteer their time to work with our students in different legal scenarios," Ewton said. "We'd also like to recognize our attorney coaches Ben Kenemer and Meg Parker."

Kenemer was unable to be at the meeting because he "is qualifying to run as (Conasauga Judicial Circuit) district attorney again," said the mock trial team's community coach Shanda Hickman.

"He's the current district attorney, so the fact that they take their time to do this is great and we appreciate that," Ewton said.

Hickman noted that the mock trial team will head to state competition in three weeks. The team recently competed at the district meet, where students Chastain and Edwin Salaices received awards.

Also recognized were several former ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students from all three Whitfield County high schools who are in their school's early childhood education pathway. Students have created videos of themselves reading bilingual children's books for school system ESOL teachers to use in the classroom.

From Coahulla Creek High, student Stephanie Gomez and teacher Chad Brewer were recognized, while Northwest Whitfield High students Jessica Favela Hernandez and Iveth Vega, along with teacher Laura Bivens, received certificates.

Southeast Whitfield High teacher Brandy Trammell and students Jocelyn Sanchez and Jocelynn Torres represented the school at the meeting, with fellow Southeast students Joslyn Lopez, Maria Mateo and Juliana Ruiz also receiving recognition.

Two members of Southeast Whitfield High's wrestling team were recognized for their recent performances at the 2024 Georgia High School Association Traditional Wrestling State Championships in Macon.

"We have two state wrestling champions in their weight classes," Ewton said. "Ollie Webb won the 4A championship in his weight class, while Terra Burse brought home the championship in her weight division."

Ewton said Burse's championship marked a special milestone for the area.

"I'd like to point out that Terra is the first girls state champion in wrestling that Whitfield County has ever had," he said. "Congratulations to them and to everyone for making us and Whitfield County proud."