By Joel Hall
This weekend, with its second Local Legends Luncheon, the Frank Ski Kids Foundation will honor six Clayton County students who have excelled beyond expectations
The students, all females, were picked by their counselors because of academic excellence, and will receive college scholarships and the chance to share a meal with two of Atlanta's most influential women.
Last year, the foundation, which sponsors educational opportunities for children in the metro-Atlanta area, also picked six, well-rounded students from Clayton County Public Schools to participate in the luncheon.
This year's luncheon winners are: Kayla Swain, a senior at Lovejoy High School, Genetta Reeves, a senior at Jonesboro High School, Morgan McGhee, a senior at Mundy's Mill High School, Mia Gipson, a senior at North Clayton High School, Janeau' Wright, a senior at Mundy's Mill High School, and Chidinma Anyiwo, a senior at Mundy's Mill High School.
Tanya Rodriguez, wife of V-103 FM radio personality Frank Ski, and president of the Ski's foundation, said she hosted the first luncheon in November of last year to give talented, female Clayton County students a chance to be recognized in the wake of the school system's loss of accreditation.
"I specifically wanted to go into Clayton County because of the negativity the press gives it," Rodriguez said. "I believe it was a good place to start ... to show our kids that we are still thinking about them. This was created to galvanize the young ladies and let them know that we are proud that they are keeping themselves above reproach, and we are rewarding them for that."
On Tuesday, the honored students were guests on the Frank Ski Morning Show. In the afternoon, the group was taken to the BCBG Max Azria store in Lenox Square Mall, and fitted with cocktail dresses, shoes, and accessories, compliments of the store.
Sunday, the scholars will wear their new threads to Frank Ski's Dunwoody residence and lunch with civil rights activist and journalist, Xernona Clayton, along with recording artist "Monica" Denise Arnold.
Clayton is the founder, president, and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc., which honors black Americans who have succeeded against tremendous odds. She was a major organizer during the Civil Rights era and served as an assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Arnold, better known by her stage moniker, "Monica," is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist. The Atlanta native started her career in 1995 when she was discovered by music producer, Dallas Austin. In 1998, she teamed up with singer "Brandy" to create the multi-platinum single, "The Boy is Mine."
Rodriguez said the scholarships the students will received will aid them in their college pursuits, but the chance to interact with Clayton and Arnold would leave a lasting impression.
"I could have just written a check to the school to give to the young ladies, but that doesn't create an experience of a life time," she said. "It's going to be a totally life-changing experience for them."
Wright, who will attend the University of Georgia in Athens in the fall, said she feels honored by the recognition. "It's usually athletes that get paid more attention," Wright said. "I just feel grateful that somebody noticed me."
Reeves, a senior at Jonesboro High School, will attend Howard University in the fall on a partial, academic scholarship. She believes the event puts a positive light on the county. "After four years of working so hard in high school and trying to be the best at everything, the accreditation issue seemed to put a damper on everything," Reeves said.
"Once I was able to be a part of this, I felt like all my hard work was finally paying off. It's nice to know that my hard work hasn't gone unnoticed."