10/16/07 — Carver Heights student receives ASU scholarship

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Carver Heights student receives ASU scholarship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 16, 2007 1:46 PM

Nakia Atkins, a fourth-grader at Carver Heights Elementary School, beamed as he greeted each visitor to his school Monday afternoon.

He knew they were there to honor him.

But it was more than that, said his principal, Carole Battle, who credited the student with having a polite and friendly demeanor every day. At the same time, she noted he was a bit "overwhelmed" by all the attention.

After all, it's not every day that a 9-year-old is surrounded by school and political officials and receives a proclamation from the state governor.

Nakia was named the minority student in Wayne County who earned the highest standardized test score in math on his end-of-grade tests last spring. For that, he was awarded a $20,000 scholarship to attend Appalachian State University.

This is the 15th year for the annual scholarship, established in 1993 to help promote cultural diversity at the school. Its anonymous donor earmarked the award for students in Wayne and Craven counties. Wayne County business leaders and residents have also contributed to the funding.

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, called the award a highlight of each school year.

"It's quite a distinction, quite an honor to be given a scholarship at this grade level, letting our students know at an early age that you have already got it in hand. You have been given something that a lot of students strive hard for every year," he told Nakia during the reception in his honor. "You're in a class by yourself."

This was the first year a Carver Heights student received the scholarship. In previous years, students at nine other elementary schools have been recipients.

The winner is selected on the basis of performance on achievement tests taken at the end of third grade.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for public relations, said Nakia scored in the 98th percentile on the math test.

"This is exciting," said Dr. Linda Robinson, associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and compliance at ASU.

With 15 elementary schools, an estimated 1,500 third-graders, she said, "to score the type of score that anybody did in that high of a percentile is phenomenal."

She encouraged Nakia to continue his efforts, and his classmates to continue pushing each other to succeed.

"We want you at Appalachian. We want you to be a Mountaineer," she said.

Robert Lyman, dean of the college of arts and sciences, presented Nakia with an ASU sweatshirt, hat and a certificate.

Sen. John Kerr then read a proclamation from Gov. Mike Easley, commending the student's accomplishments.

Two of Nakia's teachers were also in the audience -- Doris Hopes, his third-grade teacher, and her sister, Shannon Rivenbark, whose class he is in now.

Mom Shenetta Atkins said she was proud of her son, the youngest of her four children.

Bettie Atkinson, his grandmother, said the announcement made her feel better about all the times she pushed Nakia to study.

Now, knowing he has a college scholarship awaiting him, "He's ready to go," she said.