Scholar Athletes 

Congratulations - Mason Hart

Posted: Apr 30, 2013  Reporter: Will Hammock

GCPS honors outstanding senior athletes

DULUTH — Monday night's celebration was a chance for Gwinnett's teachers and coaches to brag about their student-athletes.

The fourth annual Gwinnett County Public Schools' Outstanding Senior Athlete Banquet at the Gwinnett Place Marriott honored the most well-rounded athletes in the county, putting them in the spotlight for an evening that featured former Brookwood, Georgia and current professional football player Rennie Curran as the guest speaker. Being a star athlete wasn't a requirement to earn one of the prestigious awards, which place equal emphasis on success in academics, community service and life.

Each student was showered by praise by a chosen teacher or coach, while Mike Emery watched proudly from the side of the stage. He is thrilled with the event's growth — 220 people packed a ballroom Monday night — but more excited about the caliber of student-athletes honored there each spring.

"Every year surpasses the other," said Emery, the director of athletics, activities and community schools for GCPS. "For everything negative that's portrayed about the youth today and about education, sit through this banquet and you're not going to come out with something negative. The positive things that go on in our schools every day, not just athletically, but in the classroom and the communities where these kids are involved. This just showcases what our kids do every day that doesn't get the publicity it deserves."

Each GCPS school honored one boy and one girl as its top student-athlete, with a new twist added this year. The honorees entered a competition for a pair of $500 scholarships thanks to Titan Team Sports and Scholastic Images/Balfour, the latter of which named its grant in honor of longtime Gwinnett coach and educator Mike Strickland.

The inaugural two winners were Shiloh's Jacqueline Harris and Meadowcreek's Elias Castro. Harris, who has a 3.929 GPA and ranks fourth in her senior class, will attend Alabama, while Castro, with a 3.89 GPA and a No. 13 class ranking, will attend Oglethorpe.

"I think the addition of scholarships was a nice touch," Emery said. "It's hard to select two from this group. This doesn't just pick the best on the athletic field, it's the best all the way around. It takes into account their other activities in school, their community service, their academic success. Out of this select group of 36 kids, for one female of 18 and one male of 18 it's a pretty select group of top-notch kids to get a scholarship."

South Gwinnett: Mason Hart (football, baseball)


Congratulations - Andrew Cochran

Vol. 23, No. 8
June 2011
By Sheila Adcock

South Gwinnett student has twelve years perfect attendance

Photo by Emmett Clower

On May 29th, 18 year-old Andrew Cochran accomplished what few others have achieved. He graduated from South Gwinnett High School with more than twelve years of perfect attendance.  From his first day of kindergarten through elementary, middle and high school, he has never missed a single day.

Andrew is the son of Melanie and Mark Cochran and the brother of 14 year-old, Jackson.  Melanie says, “We didn’t start out on this path (of perfect attendance).  It just happened.”  Andrew received a trophy after fifth grade graduation for elementary perfect attendance.  He then determined that he would aim toward continuing this perfect attendance goal.  His mother laughingly credits Burger King.  “With our busy lives, we eat a lot of Burger King, so it must be healthy food.  We are rarely sick. “She further explains, “We are very busy and live by our calendar and our schedule.  We have preached being responsible and doing right.”

Cochran’s mother, Melanie scheduled all his orthodontist appointments and such around his school schedule.  In fact, she says, “He has been tardy only 3 times—one time was my fault.  I overslept!”

Andrew credits his mother—“She pushed me to do it.  I’ve never been sick with chicken pox or anything like that.  I am fortunate that I also have never had any deaths in the family or anything like that that caused me to miss a day.”

Cochran graduates with a dual diploma—having taken technical courses and college prep classes with gifted, honors and AP courses.  He has been accepted at UGA and Georgia Tech, but plans to attend Georgia Gwinnett College for two years of core classes.  He will then transfer to Tech, working toward a mechanical engineering degree with a minor in business.  This plan was inspired by his father, Mark.  Andrew says of his dad, “I look up to him.  He’s always been there for me.  He was never too busy to stop and help me.  When I was in elementary and middle school, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and help me with projects.”

Coach Allen Evans, engineering teacher at South, was also an inspiration to Cochran.  He says, “Coach first introduced engineering concepts to me He made the classes fun with the hand-on projects we did.  Projects were taken from real life and I learned so much from him.”

Another teacher who played a big part in Cochran’s education is Coach Derrick Burchette.  Burchette teaches AP US History.  Cochran affirms, “He taught my first AP course and introduced me to college-level classes.  He wasn’t “hard on me” but really pushed me to do my best.  He also made learning fun, and added his own twist to learning, using humor.”

Cochran says of his accomplishment, “Perfect attendance looks good on college entrance applications and in landing a good job.”  In the end, he says, “I just want to be a respectful kid, who tries his best.  I never want to embarrass my parents.”  It sounds like he’s well on his way to achieving his objectives.  Congratulations Andrew Cochran!