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Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorians


group photo of 9 students

The Cherokee County School District’s Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorians are, from left to right, front row: Valedictorians Michelle McCord, Creekview HS; Julia Kochansky, Cherokee HS; Tej Patel, River Ridge HS; Isabelle Riddle, Sequoyah HS; Alex Andon, Woodstock HS; and Sindhu Manivannan, Etowah HS; back row: Salutatorians Jodi Dowis, Cherokee HS; Tiana Hom, River Ridge HS; Kat Massengale, Sequoyah HS; and AJ Cox, Woodstock HS. Not pictured: Salutatorians Grace Maavere, Creekview HS; and Tony Wineman, Etowah HS.

The Cherokee County School District and School Board honored the Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorians during the 17th Annual Scholar Recognition Banquet on Wednesday at Woodmont Golf & Country Club.

The evening was attended by the Scholars and their parents; the teacher each Scholar chose as the most influential in his or her education; CCSD’s high school Principals; the Superintendent of Schools and members of his senior staff; and the School Board.

“You made the necessary sacrifices and hard work to earn your dreams,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer told the scholars during her remarks, adding that praise also is due to their parents who made sacrifices to support them.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower spoke of the fierce academic competition at the top of class in CCSD schools, noting that ranking “goes to third digit beyond the decimal.”

“We’re so proud of you,” Dr. Hightower said to the scholars. “We hope we challenged you, inspired you and loved you – and you knew it.”

Following a buffet dinner, the guests heard speeches by the Scholars and their favorite teachers. The students and teachers were congratulated by the Superintendent and School Board, and each student received an iPad, $50 gift card and plaque. Each teacher received a plaque and $100 gift card.

The dinner was made possible by a donation from Presenting Sponsor, LGE Community Credit Union, which additionally presented each student with an iPad cover and each teacher with a tumbler. Chris Leggett, CEO/President of LGE Community Credit Union, shared sponsor remarks during the program.

“You made a choice to do and be your best,” he said. “We celebrate the choices you made to be here tonight.”

The gifts of iPads and gift cards were made possible by donations from the following sponsors: Platinum: Curriculum Associates, Northside Hospital-Cherokee, Poole’s Insulation Company, Standard Office Systems (SOS) and Woodmont Golf & Country Club; Gold: Brown & Brown Insurance of Georgia, NOVA Engineering & Environmental, Seasonal Designs Landscaping and Traditions Turf Management, Inc.; and Silver: Eyemed, True Natural Gas and The Travel Store, Inc.

The Scholars and their honored teachers are:

Cherokee HS
Valedictorian: Julia Kochansky, who will study English and Classics at the University of Southern California
Teacher: Heather Smith, who taught Julia in AP U.S. History and Government

Salutatorian: Jodi Dowis, who will study mechanical engineering or aerospace science at Georgia Tech
Teacher: Justin Jones, who taught Jodi in AP English Literature and World Literature

Creekview HS
Valedictorian: Michelle McCord, who will study nuclear plasma radiological engineering at the University of Illinois and hopes to work with particle accelerators, possibly for the U.S. Department of Defense or Department of Energy
Teacher: Jason Hardin, who taught Michelle in AP Chemistry and homeroom

Salutatorian: Grace Maavere, who will study art at the Savannah College of Art & Design
Teacher: Linda Nicholson, who taught Grace in AP Studio Art

Etowah HS
Valedictorian: Sindhu Manivannan, who will study neuroscience at St. Louis University
Teacher: John Murnan, who taught Sindhu in AP Biology, Human Anatomy and Scientific Research at Etowah HS

Salutatorian: Tony Wineman, who will study aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech
Teacher: Dr. Brian Heglund, who taught Tony in AP Physics

River Ridge HS
Valedictorian: Tej Patel, who will study computer engineering at Georgia Tech and hopes to work in engineering for the automobile industry
Teacher: Terry Strassner, who taught Tej in AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics

Salutatorian: Tiana Hom, who will study computer science at Georgia Tech and hopes to work in robotics or computer animation
Teacher: Counselor Brittany Voltner, who was Tiana’s counselor for four years

Sequoyah HS
Valedictorian: Isabelle Riddle, who will study bio-chemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia and hopes to work as a pediatric oncologist with a focus on research
Teacher: Brian Carnes, who taught Isabelle in AP and Honors Chemistry

Salutatorian: Kat Massengale, who will study biology and Classics at Vanderbilt University and hopes to work in pediatrics
Teacher: Greg Ross, who taught Kat in four years of Latin including AP Latin

Woodstock HS
Valedictorian: Alex Andon, who will study engineering at Georgia Tech
Teacher: Kelly Burke, who taught Alex in three years of AP Physics

Salutatorian: AJ Cox, who will study environmental engineering at MIT and hopes to work in environmental law or policy
Teacher: Josh Sailers, who taught AJ in AP European History, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics