Education is our society's foundation, shaping future generations' minds and aspirations. In our community, six local schools are fostering academic growth, personal development, and a deep sense of pride among their students. We had the privilege of interviewing exceptional students who shared their heartfelt experiences, unforgettable moments, and the unique qualities that set their respective schools apart. These insights provide a glimpse into the rich tapestry of local educational excellence and the immense pride these students have for their schools.
Riess Estep, Whitefield Academy
Rising senior, Riess Estep firmly believes that attending Whitefield Academy provides her with an exceptional education that will equip her for college and beyond. The school's solid focus on academics and challenging coursework instills a strong sense of pride in students. The Whitefield faculty and staff are dedicated to ensuring that every student achieves their full potential and is prepared for success beyond the school walls.
A standout experience for Riess is the Friday night football games, where the entire student body comes together to support the team. Whether they win or lose, what truly matters is the feeling of camaraderie and togetherness that arises from rallying behind their school. This is a fundamental part of being part of the Whitefield community: supporting one another and taking pride in the school's accomplishments.
As the new school year approaches, Riess eagerly awaits the adventures that come with being a senior at Whitefield Academy. The senior retreat offers a chance to bond with classmates and create unforgettable memories. Another highlight is "j-term" (January Term), a special program that provides opportunities like internships, travel, missions, and local service projects. However, the most exciting event for Riess is undoubtedly graduation day, when she’ll end her journey at Whitefield and begin a new chapter in her life.
Avery Graham, Campbell High School
Avery Graham, a proud member of Campbell High School's Class of 2025, believes that one of the standout qualities of her school is the strong school spirit and the sense of pride exhibited by the students across various areas such as sports, clubs, and academics.
Avery recalls a particularly memorable experience during the recent soccer season. The Campbell Girls Varsity Soccer team achieved an impressive feat by reaching the Final Four for the first time in the school's history. Avery takes pride in being part of this historic team and cherishes the support they received from their classmates, who came out in large numbers to cheer them on.
To foster a sense of community among students, Campbell High School offers a wide range of clubs catering to different interests and passions. This inclusive approach ensures that every student can find a club that resonates with them, promoting a diverse and welcoming environment. Also, events like sporting events, spirit nights, football pep rallies, and dances play a significant role in bringing the student body together and strengthening the sense of community within the school.
Looking ahead to her junior year, Avery is excited about the fresh start and the opportunities it will bring. She eagerly anticipates spending time with friends daily and attending football games this fall.
Jacob Manginelli, The Stonehaven School
Jacob Manginelli, a rising freshman at The Stonehaven School, is excited about the start of the new school year. He believes that one of the key aspects that distinguishes Stonehaven from other schools is the close relationships students can foster with their teachers. Unlike public schools with larger class sizes, Stonehaven's smaller atmosphere allows for a more intimate connection between students and teachers. Jacob appreciates the fact that he will have the same teachers throughout his time at Stonehaven’s upper school, enabling them to genuinely care for and invest in his education and personal growth.
Stonehaven's House Program is another tradition that contributes to the students' pride in their school. Upon entering Stonehaven, students are sorted into one of four houses: Cambridge, Oxford, St. Andrews, or Trinity. Each house is assigned specific colors, a mascot, and a virtue. Throughout the year, the houses engage in friendly competition, aiming to prove their strength and unity. This program not only fosters a sense of camaraderie among housemates but also promotes a strong community spirit among all students.
As Jacob looks ahead to the upcoming school year, he is most excited about reuniting with his friends. He feels his classmates are like an extended family, and the school itself feels like home. The combination of a supportive social environment, challenging academics, and a sense of belonging makes him eager to return to class.
Sarah Caldwell, St. Benedict’s Episcopal Day School
Sarah Caldwell, a rising 8th grader at St. Benedict's Episcopal Day School, says it's the people at her school who make her truly grateful to be a student there. Both teachers and students are incredibly welcoming. Each morning during carpool, the teachers go the extra mile to make it a fun experience, wearing silly hats and other playful accessories to greet the students. It's these small gestures that create a sense of joy and belonging within the school community.
Sarah's pride in her school is further strengthened by a specific program called Bee Buddies. This unique initiative pairs older students with younger ones, allowing them to form meaningful relationships and build connections across grade levels. Sarah recalls a special chapel service where she and her Bee Buddy from 3rd grade participated in a pin swap. This act symbolized the mentorship role she held as a 7th grader, instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment in her school's commitment to fostering supportive relationships among its students.
Looking ahead to the new school year, Sarah is eager to reconnect with her friends and teachers and participate in exciting projects. She also anticipates the upcoming spring season when she can join the St. Benedict’s track team.
Finn McQuade, Campbell Middle School
As Finn McQuade enters 8th grade at Campbell Middle School, he takes pride in attending the only middle school in Cobb County with a Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program. The program includes a Spanish Literature class and a Social Studies class taught in Spanish every year, which helps Finn improve his language skills and also exposes him to diverse cultures and perspectives. Finn is also proud of being part of an International Baccalaureate (IB) middle school, where critical thinking, global awareness, and community involvement are emphasized, preparing him for future academic pursuits.
Finn enjoys participating in Fresh Air Friday, a monthly event that allows students to enjoy recreational activities and socialize outside the classroom. He also finds fulfillment in being part of WYLD Life, a monthly Christian-based club where students engage in games and Bible studies, fostering fellowship and spiritual growth. Moreover, Finn appreciates the Sources of Strength program, which is a group of elected students who are trained to provide support to their peers during challenging times.
As the upcoming school year approaches, Finn is particularly thrilled about earning his 3rd language high school credit through the DLI program, which demonstrates his commitment and progress in language learning. He also eagerly awaits the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico with his DLI classmates during Winter Break. Finally, Finn is excited about completing middle school and embarking on his next academic chapter in high school.
Taylor Whitaker, Covenant Christian School
Taylor Whitaker is eagerly anticipating her 8th-grade year at Covenant Christian School, where she takes pride in her school’s unique approach to education that combines religious teachings with core subjects like math, grammar, and science. At Covenant, she's learned how foundational skills align with faith, and she's excited to continue to build on her knowledge. Taylor credits the school's focus on teaching World History from a Biblical perspective for offering her a broader understanding of different cultures and times. She is confident that these opportunities have made her a better student and will continue to impact her future education positively.
Taylor is particularly proud of her growth as a communicator, thanks to her participation in activities like Speech Meets and Spelling Bees. She fondly recalls her participation in the seventh-grade Greek Tragedy Contest, where she played the role of Antigone, and the process of studying lines, creating a costume, and rehearsing the scene. She believes that these activities have helped her develop into a well-rounded student, ready to take on new challenges.
As she enters her final year at Covenant Christian School, Taylor is enthusiastic about the challenges that lie ahead. She believes that the school's commitment to classical education and the dedication of its exceptional teachers have prepared her to face the future with confidence. She is confident that this year will showcase the true value of her education and is looking forward to continuing to grow as a student.
We are grateful to these students for sharing their stories with us. Their words offer a powerful testament to the power of education and the importance of creating truly student-centered schools.
Campbell Middle School: 3295 Atlanta Rd SE, Smyrna, GA 30080; (678) 842-6873
Campbell High School: 925 Powder Springs St, Smyrna, GA 30080; (678) 842-6850
Covenant Christian School: 3130 Atlanta Rd SE, Smyrna, GA 30080; (770) 435-1596
St. Benedict’s Episcopal Day School: 2160 Cooper Lake Rd SE, Smyrna, GA 30080; (678) 279-4300
The Stonehaven School: (Upper Campus) 1650 Old Concord Rd, Marietta, GA 30060; (770) 874-8886
Whitefield Academy: 1 Whitefield Dr SE, Smyrna, GA 30126; (678) 305-3000