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Carver fourth-grader receives $20,000 ASU scholarship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 10, 2012 1:46 PM

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Giovonnii Nelson, right, a fourth-grader at Carver Elementary School in Mount Olive, is congratulated by Dr. Anthony Calamai, dean of the college of arts and sciences at Appalachian State University.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Giovonnii Cromartie Nelson has grown up in a family of educators, but at 10 years old, figured she had plenty of time to begin making financial aid plans for college.

That was before she was named the recipient of a $20,000 scholarship to attend Appalachian State University after high school.

This marks the 20th presentation of the award to a Wayne County Public Schools minority student for earning the highest score on the end-of-grade math test.

At a ceremony held Friday morning at Carver Elementary School, Giovonnii was recognized for the accomplishment.

Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability/student services, conveyed congratulations on behalf of the schools superintendent and expressed appreciation to the anonymous donor of the annual scholarship presented to a student in Wayne and Craven counties.

He said in his role as tabulator of statistics and test score results, much effort is spent looking at the negatives in the district -- where are the weaknesses, what programs are not productive? But then comes the time to name the student with the highest math score.

"It's the most fun thing I do all year," McFadden said.

And while privacy laws prohibited him from revealing Giovonnii's exact score, he couldn't resist dropping a hint.

"I will say they were way, way up the scale for any student," he said.

Not surprising to those familiar with the family tree.

"Giovonnii is a little different," said Olivia Pierce, executive director information/technology services. "This is the first recipient we have had whose family are all educators for the most part and have been with our school district."

Her parents, Ryan Nelson and Na-Tale Nelson, are assistant principals, at Southern Wayne High and Mount Olive Middle schools, respectively. Grandfather Ed Cromartie is a retired administrator and now assistant principal at Wayne Academy, and grandmother, Hilda, is a retired principal.

The program was introduced in 2003, Mrs. Pierce said, and nine schools in the county have been represented on the list.

"Giovonnii is the fourth recipient from Carver Elementary, the seventh girl," she said.

"We're going to hope to see you in 2021," said Dr. Anthony Calamai, ASU dean of the college of arts and sciences, adding, "The sky's the limit for you."

Mrs. Nelson said she was "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support the family had received from the community and at the school.

"We're extremely proud, blessed to have such a wonderful child who's worked hard," she said. "We couldn't have asked for a better educational experience for her."

A well-rounded fourth-grader -- Giovonnii has taken dance lessons since age 3 and participates in Girl Scouts, Battle of the Books, softball and was chosen for all-state chorus this year -- she humbly accepted the accolades.

"I do study," she said. "If I need help, I'm not afraid to ask."

The oldest of three children -- brother, Ryan Nelson Jr. is 6, sister, Gigi is 4 -- she still enjoys reading a good mystery but says these days math has become her favorite subject.

And no disrespect, but she is considering a different career path than her relatives.

"I do not want to be an educator," she shrugged. "Probably a doctor or a surgeon."