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Rising stars take a few bows
Grady Young Foundation honors students hard work and effort
Shajayah Reid, center, and Kayla Walker look over the list of honorees Saturday evening at the Rising Stars recognition banquet. Looking on is Sandra Young. All three girls were honored at the event that was sponsored by the Grady Young Foundation. - photo by Tom Reed
In its first four years, the Grady Young Foundation honored members of the military, educators, health care professionals and public safety workers at its annual banquet.

On Saturday, it was time for area students, from elementary school to college, to get a pat on the back.

"They represent the future of the foundation," said Anne Benjamin, a board member of the foundation, which is named for the late deacon of Cross Plains Mission Baptist Church and has awarded 40 scholarships since its inception.

"We want to honor outstanding students who contribute to enhancement of our communities," foundation chairman Charles Young said. The foundation received more than 100 nominations from teachers and parents in Hall and surrounding counties.

On Saturday, more than 60 young people, dubbed the foundation’s "Rising Stars," were honored with trophies and plaques for achievement in academics, athletics, community service and the arts.

They included Sandra Young, 13, a student at Marietta’s Hightower Trail Middle School, who was recognized for being on the school’s advanced placement honor roll for a full school year, and Teryan Rucker, a Gainesville High School student who was cited for his accomplishments in football and track.

Both sat a table with more than 20 of their peers in their best outfits, dining on roast beef and making new friends.

"It’s good to see young kids are here who are doing positive things, instead of being out on the streets doing bad things," Rucker said.

Young said the banquet was a way of encouraging continuing achievement.

"Kids see that if they do good, they’ll be recognized," she said.

Hall County Commissioner
Deborah Mack, who along with Gainesville City Councilwoman Ruth Bruner presented the foundation with a resolution of
recognition, said the work of its members is appreciated.

"Our young people really need a hand up, and it’s good that we have people interested in helping them," Mack said.

Clarence Johnson, a board member of the Grady Young Foundation, said while the foundation remained in its "infancy," it was heading in the right direction. Future fundraising events will include a three-on-three basketball tournament.

"We’re just going to continue to do more and more things for the community," he said.

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