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Frank Ski Foundation honors 6 students

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Frank Ski Kids Foundation has selected six Clayton County students to honor for academic excellence.

Clayton County high school seniors Meaghan Jackson, of Morrow High School, Songsarae Harley, of Forest Park High School, Kelita Almond, of Riverdale High School, Jamesha Foote, of Riverdale High School, Tyler Jones, of Mount Zion High School, and Maritza Morales, of Mt. Zion High School, will be recognized Nov. 2, during an inaugural Local Legend Luncheon, from noon to 3 p.m., at the home of Frank Ski, a local V-103 personality, and founder of the group.

The foundation provides scholarships and extracurricular-learning opportunities to students in the metro Atlanta area.

The six students will get some star treatment, foundation officials said. The honorees will be chauffeured by limo to the Frank Ski residence in Dunwoody, participate in an etiquette class, and have lunch with Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, star of The CW network judicial show, "Family Court with Judge Penny; and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, one-third of the legendary rhythm and blues trio, TLC.

Each student will be given a scholarship to help with their college application fees.

Tanya Ski, wife of Frank Ski, and president of the foundation, said the luncheon will be modeled after a similar one Oprah Winfrey hosted several years ago to connect up-and-coming black celebrities to seasoned trailblazers in the fields of entertainment and music.

"The purpose of the luncheon is to reward the young ladies of Clayton County-area high schools who have performed in exemplary fashion, despite the county losing its accreditation," said Tanya Ski. "These young ladies will meet a local legend, have lunch, and get to have us pick their brains.

"We thought that we could really have a diverse range of discussion between entertainment and law," Ski continued. "It will be a very casual conversation, because we are trying to see where their heads are."

Tanya Ski said the students selected to participate in the luncheon were handpicked by school administrators and counselors as those who "embody the epitome of what you want your high school students to look like."

Earlier this year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) revoked the accreditation of the Clayton County Public Schools. The resulting turmoil left many Clayton County high school students worried about whether they would be able to attend the colleges of their choice.

Most of the students being honored have above 4.0 grade-point averages, participate in various extracurricular activities, and have course loads that rival first-year college students.

Foote, for example, is an 18-year-old who plans to pursue a business management or marketing degree from New York University, Georgia State University, or Emory University. She is happy the foundation is shining a positive light on Clayton County.

"The accreditation thing wasn't our fault," said Foote, who takes four advanced placement classes and has a 4.19 GPA. "We've been doing what we need to do. Frank Ski came in and gave us a shot. This money is really going to help me apply to some schools that I want, and further my education," she said.

Jackson, a 17-year-old from Morrow High School, has a 4.0 GPA, and plans to major in finance, economics, or business at Clark Atlanta University. She said the scholarship money will help tremendously.

"My mom is a single mother, and right now, we are focusing on getting those scholarships," said Jackson. "That money is going to help out with books and tuition. Clark is a private school and I need every dime I can get."

Tanya Ski believes the luncheon will encourage seniors to excel, despite accreditation problems in the county.

"I think it's really a sad thing that it got out of hand like this," Tanya Ski said. "We are trying to turn lemons into lemonade and have something positive for these ladies. They will be encouraged that their grades still matter."