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Clark Atlanta University Surprises 15 Dutchtown High School Students with $784,000 in Scholarships

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Clark Atlanta University (CAU) representatives visited Dutchtown High School (DHS) on Dec. 5 to present 15 seniors with merit-based scholarships totaling $784,000.

Dutchtown High School’s junior and senior classes assembled in the gymnasium at 11 a.m. on Tuesday knowing only that representatives from CAU would be visiting.

Representatives included CAU Director of Student Experiences Jayden Williams, who is a DHS alumnus, as well as members of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and New Student and Family Programs, and student ambassadors.

Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment Janita Ferguson invited 15 scholars to the stage, notifying them of their official acceptance to CAU.

In another surprise move, Ferguson announced that CAU would more than double the scholarship offer previously shared with DHS Principal Nicole Shaw.

The awards, based on the students’ academic performance, ranged in value from $32,000 to $80,000. Afeya McGregor and Chancellor Spencer, each with a cumulative 4.0 grade-point average (GPA), received $80,000 scholarships.

Six seniors received scholarships valued at $60,000; five obtained awards of $40,000, and two received $32,000 toward study at CAU.

“We went through data to identify schools with the most admitted students who also had high-achieving academic profiles and selected Dutchtown based on the number of applications,” said Director of Undergraduate Admissions Travis Batiste. “And so, we decided to kick off our Red Letter Week celebrations at Dutchtown High. This is the first school we selected to attend and the school to receive the most funding.”

The students accepted the scholarships with their parents, classmates, teachers, and administrators in attendance.

“Your amazing work inspired CAU to give this gift,” Batiste continued. “We were looking for the best of the best and the brightest of the brightest, and your academic profiles stood out. We want to acknowledge scholars and the amazing work they are doing.”

“Clark Atlanta, I do not take this lightly,” said Principal Shaw. “The award is an all-time high for Dutchtown, and that is due to our students staying focused. Parents, had it not been for you laying that foundation and stressing the importance of education, they wouldn’t be here right now. It takes a village. It takes us working together to make this happen.”

“I knew Clark Atlanta was coming, but I had no idea we would be getting scholarships or that there was going to be an announcement that we were admitted,” McGregor said. “When I found out I was getting the highest award, it made me happy. I never want to put my parents through the hardship of paying for school, so this meant the world to me.”

McGregor, who plans to major in education and one day teach, credits her support system and parents.

“I’ve kept straight As and remained on the honor roll all through school,” McGregor added. “My support system is very important to me. My hard work paid off, and thanks to my parents, that’s how I got to my 4.0 GPA. I like to think hard work, determination, and diligence get you where you need to be, and I want to thank Clark Atlanta for giving me this scholarship today. I am so appreciative because college is expensive. So, I’ll forever be grateful.”

McGregor maintains a stellar academic record while balancing multiple extracurricular activities, including serving as vice president of the Beta Club for the past two years, Color Guard team captain, and member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and Student Government Association.

“We are ecstatic about Alfea receiving this scholarship,” said McGregor’s father, Leeben. “All her hard work is bearing fruit. We knew it was difficult for her between her studies and extracurricular activities – frustrating at times, but it made us so proud that she has worked so hard.”

Twins Katelyn and Kennedy Norman each received $60,000 in scholarships with GPAs of 3.92 and 3.96, respectively. Both display exemplary academic performance while also being active and maintaining leadership roles in several organizations, including the Beta Club, African American Student Union, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society.

“It was not expected at all. It felt really good to be noticed for my accomplishments,” said Katelyn Norman. “I plan to major in biology on the pre-med track because I want to pursue a career in anesthesiology. I want to thank Principal Shaw and Dutchtown for moments like these. I’m very grateful.”

“When my mom got the call from Mrs. Shaw that I needed to go to the gymnasium this morning, I was nervous,” said Kennedy Norman. “My selected major is pre-dentistry, and I plan to specialize in orthodontics. Thanks to Principal Shaw and the president of Clark Atlanta University.”

“I’m ecstatic,” added the twins’ mother, Crystal Norman. “I never expected it. I’ve been working two jobs, seven days per week, to send my girls to the best school possible.” This is a blessing. So, I’m very proud and overwhelmed.”

CAU hopes to motivate high and middle school students to maintain excellence throughout their academic journey through events like this one. The university further intends to continue building a relationship with Henry County Schools (HCS). 

“Community is vital to who we are as a school district,” said HCS Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “This unexpected and substantial gesture from Clark Atlanta University highlights just that. We are beyond grateful for this recognition and how it aligns with our purpose to create opportunities, access, and outcomes for our students.”

The merit scholarships are for tuition only, and awardees must maintain a 3.2 GPA with 30 completed semester hours at the end of each academic year.

Last year, Dutchtown received $15.7 million in total in scholarships. However, this year’s award from CAU was the most DHS has received at one time from a single institution.

“This is only the beginning,” said Principal Shaw. “The award will leave a positive impact on our school community. Students often need to see their peers do it to believe they can, too. I am here to ensure students have opportunities and access. We must remain educated regarding opportunities, stay connected within and beyond the Dutchtown community, and grasp those opportunities for our students to succeed.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.