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Rockdale Coalition to hold awards reception in March

CONYERS -- Six Rockdale County students invested in community service are finalists for the Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families' 2013 John K. Morgan Scholarship.

This is the third year the Rockdale Coalition has offered the $4,000 scholarship for a student who has demonstrated outstanding community service in Rockdale County and plans to continue that level of commitment while pursuing post-secondary education.

"We are grateful for this scholarship opportunity provided by the Rockdale Coalition which supports students as they continue their education beyond high school," said Richard Autry, superintendent for Rockdale County Public Schools. "It is this kind of community partnership which allows our students and community to thrive."

The scholarship is named for John K. Morgan, former president and chief executive officer of Acuity Brands Lighting and community advocate.

Finalists for the 2013 John K. Morgan Scholarship include: Anna Barnes (Heritage High School), Kendra Jenkins (Salem High School), William Kulp (Heritage High School), Kate McCalley (Heritage High School), Dominique Steele (Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology) and Shavontae Yoakum (Salem High School).

"I am very proud of these students who have demonstrated a commitment to giving back to their community," Autry said. "These students set an example for others to follow as we strive to add service learning to our graduation requirements over the next few years with our renewed strategic plan."

Highlights of community service demonstrated by the six finalists include:

-- Barnes volunteers with Special Olympics, raised more than $25,000 for Rockdale Relay for Life and established her own community service organization, A Queen for a Claus, to help less fortunate families.

-- Jenkins volunteers as a tutor for the Game Plan program to help student athletes at Salem High School and assists with caring for horses at a local ranch.

-- Kulp is active with outreach activities at First Baptist Church of Conyers, with feeding the homeless in Atlanta and volunteering as a coach at Rockdale Youth Soccer Association.

-- McCalley volunteers her time with Hometown Animal Rescue and other fundraisers through the Heritage High School National Honors Society.

-- Steele serves as a volunteer nursery worker at Tabernacle Assemblies of God, a piano assistant at Love Divine Music Ministries and a student ambassador at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.

-- Yoakum is president of Salem High School's Student Government Association and has coordinated canned food drives and a fundraiser for the family of Reba Glass and participated in neighborhood clean-ups through Rivers Alive and the Great American Cleanup.

Five finalists will receive a $500 scholarship, and the $4,000 scholarship will go to one student based on interviews conducted by the John K. Morgan Scholarship Committee, comprised of local business professionals and community service advocates.

"We were once again overwhelmed by the talent and commitment these students have shown throughout their careers by giving so much of their time and talents to help others in need," said Michael Hutcheson, director of Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families.

The scholarship winner will be announced at the Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families Annual Awards Reception at the Rockdale Career Academy at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2.

The event is open to the public, and tickets are available at the Rockdale Coalition office for $10. The event includes food, entertainment, a silent auction and recognition of the scholarship finalists.

The 2013 recipient of the F. William Hughey Community Service Award also will be presented to Lillis Brown. This award is presented annually to a person who has demonstrated outstanding community service in Rockdale County. Lillis is the former Probate Judge of Rockdale County serving in this capacity since 1993, and she also has been an active participant and volunteer in the community.

A $500 cash donation will also be given to the local community service organization of the recipient's choice.

The Rockdale Coalition for Children & Families is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to facilitate and support collaborative initiatives that promote the well-being of children and families in the Rockdale community.