02/10/14 — Eastern Wayne Elementary student earns ASU scholarship

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Eastern Wayne Elementary student earns ASU scholarship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 10, 2014 1:46 PM

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Keyara Wilson, front, a fourth-grader at Eastern Wayne Elementary School, is this year's minority student with the highest score on the third-grade standardized test score in math, and was awarded a $20,000 scholarship to attend Appalachian State University after high school. She was honored recently at a reception at the school, attended by local and ASU officials. From left are Dr. Anthony Calamai, ASU dean of college of arts and sciences; EWE Principal Kelly Capps; ASU executive director of development David Taylor; and Dr. Steven Taylor, WCPS superintendent.

When Keyara Wilson was recently summoned to the principal's office at Eastern Wayne Elementary School, the 9-year-old admits she had a little trepidation.

"I thought I was in trouble," she said.

Until she was informed that quite the opposite was true -- she had just been named the minority student in the school district with the highest score on the third-grade end-of-grade math test.

"The first thing Keyara said was, 'Oh, my gosh, this is the best day of my life,'" recalled her principal, Kelly Capps.

The fourth-grader couldn't wait to share the news, but her mom was at work. So she was able to contact her stepdad, Philemon Gray, a coach at Eastern Wayne High School.

"He thought I got in trouble," Keyara said.

The family had actually just relocated to Goldsboro from Craven County in April, shortly before the end-of-grade tests. Gray and Keyara's mom, Keisha Gray, have four children between them, with Keyara being the second youngest.

An official presentation ceremony and reception was held last week to acknowledge her accomplishment.

David Lewis, executive director of information technology services and athletes for Wayne County Public Schools, shared the history of the $20,000 award, which started in 1993 when an anonymous donor offered the scholarship to the minority student scoring the highest on the end-of-grade math test. It is given in two counties, Wayne and Craven.

"We have a lot of scholarships that are given to our kids every year. That's usually at the senior level." Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said. "This is the 21st year of doing this. The donor could have selected many places to do this.

"You (Keyara) have got a lot of work to do obviously between now and when you finish high school but you wouldn't be where you are if you hadn't already done some hard work."

Keyara is the 21st student from the district to receive the scholarship and the eighth girl. In the years since it was introduced, recipients have come from nine different elementary schools. This is the second one representing Eastern Wayne Elementary. The first was Kelli Artis, for the school year 1997-98.

Lewis added that there are two recipients who are currently attending ASU -- Savalius Swain, who received the award in 2001-02 while at School Street Elementary, is now a junior, and Akela Sheard, a Brogden Primary student in 2003-04, is a sophomore in college.

Dr. Anthony Calamai, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at ASU, presented Keyara with a certificate and assorted items from the college.

"There are tons of opportunities for you in the future," he told the youngster. "Thanks to your parents, teachers and your interest in math, you have got a big jump on the competition. You have got to study hard now because you have already got $20,000 in the bank."

Afterward, Keyara, whose favorite subject is math, said she was very happy with the recognition.

"I feel really, really good," she said.

"I'm just excited for her," added her mom.

"I'm like, I'm so proud I can't even get the words," said Keba Wilson, Keyara's father, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Both of her current teachers, Samantha Seiler, math, and Mary Clyde Peacock, reading, were also on hand to support their student.

"It's really exciting," said Ms. Seiler. "We were really excited to hear the news. She's a wonderful student, personality-wise and academics-wise. She's excited about learning. Her classmates love her.

"She works hard and doesn't quit. She's very deserving of this, that's for sure."