CONYERS — The best and brightest of Rockdale County Public Schools and their teachers were honored Monday evening at a ceremony at Salem High School.

The ceremony honored the top 10 students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades at the system’s three high schools, Rockdale County High School, Salem High School and Heritage High School, as well as the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.

“Each year we have the distinct honor of acknowledging the efforts of our top high school students and their honored teachers,” said Jim McBrayer, chairman of the Rockdale County Board of Education. “It is our pleasure to have this opportunity to meet and congratulate each of you for your accomplishments. These students are the leaders of their schools, and we look forward to having them lead our future. We commend you for your hard work and hope you will continue to aspire to your dreams and strive for excellence in everything you do.”

McBrayer had a message for the different students and teachers honored at the event, as well as the families of those honored.

“Seniors, let this only be the beginning of your success with whatever you choose to do when you graduate in May,” McBrayer said. “Juniors and sophomores, we look forward to seeing you at this program next year. Honored teachers, we thank you for sharing your gift for students and making a difference in their lives. Parents, family and community members, we appreciate your continued support of your children, our teachers and our school system.”

Shirley Chesser, Rockdale County’s interim superintendent of schools, spoke of the pride she felt when she saw the students and teachers honored.

“When I look out in the audience and see so many talented and academically gifted students representing our school system, I have an overwhelming sense of pride,” Chesser said. “I am proud to be part of a school system that places a high value on the academic accomplishments of our students and reinforces these accomplishments at community events such as this. Students, to be recognized tonight, we know you have put forth extra time, effort and energy to maintain your commitment to become a top academic scholar. You have become an elite student and you can no longer return to mediocrity.”

Chesser said that, by putting forth the effort necessary to excel in schools, students have developed great habits that will remain with them for life, emphasizing the role education plays in building a young person’s life.

“I trust you will remain steadfast in maintaining your habits because you have taken ownership in your education and hence, your life,” Chesser said. “Education is the great equalizer. It breaks barriers, overcomes poverty, conquers injustice. Education can overcome life’s inequities and transport you anywhere you choose to go.”

Chesser also took time to thank the teachers honored at the ceremony, noting the impact those teachers had on the lives of students.

Chesser said without those teachers, the students could not have transformed into the honor students they are.

“I am proud of the commitment of the teachers honored here tonight and all the teachers in the Rockdale County Public School system who make high quality learning possible for our students,” Chesser said. “Your dedication, passion, enthusiasm for teaching is exciting, and you have been a wonderful influence and an outstanding role model for these young people. You are to be commended for setting the standard for excellence in teaching for our schools.”

Chesser thanked the teachers for the significant contributions to the growth and development of the students.

“Thank you for the profound impact you have made on them,” Chesser said. “Please know your work has meant far more than a test score or a report card grade. The work you have invested in our young people changes lives and generations.”

In addition to the honor, the honor teachers will receive a $500 bonus for being named by a student, a bonus that received a massive cheer from those on hand. The bonus is part of the system’s Strategic Compensation Model intended to lure and retain quality teachers to the system.

The Top 10 Students, by school and grade level

Heritage High School, Sophomores

Chad Bhoorasingh, Mackenzie Bosworth, Madilyn Cox, DaMari Dawson, Alexandra Ellis, Declan Fitzgerald, Vadim Patrashko, Maleah Peacock, Ariana Steele, Brianna Symons

Heritage High School, Juniors

Calabria Atkins, Emily Bradley, Maya Davis, Sydney Gaylor, Maya Laws, Robyn Lowe, Lynda Mosley, Sophie Mosley, Marquis Sims, Delaney Willette, Gracelyn Wilson

Heritage High School, Seniors

Nathaniel Tadao Buck, Ronan Fitzgerald, Lillian Jackson, Tredarius Lassiter, Jennifer Nelson, Samuel Oniha, Princess Osibodu, Monique Queen, Analucia Reid, Tyrell Snagg, Amy Vaughan

Rockdale County High School, Sophomores

Chalandrea Banks, Taijah Clark, Christopher Emeka, Alyssa Lewis, Skylah Parker, Hannah Reaves, Audrey Scheaffer, Monserrat Vazquez, Spirit Williams, Dedrionna Wilson

Rockdale County High School, Juniors

Shacari Amin, Laila Boyd, Faith Campbell, Lauryn Cornwall, Victoria Edmands, Shikirah Johnson, Caesar Morales-Xochipiltecatl, Amber Phillips, Kyrin Turner, Cielo Vasquez-Sifuntes

Rockdale County High School, Seniors

Ariel Alvarado, Noah Crafts, Willetta Eley, Leah Laing, Sadica Murphy, Patrick Peters, Julian Robinson, Janiece Stewart, Jasmin Vasquez-Sifuntes, Taylor Wilkinson

Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Sophomores

Imani Allen, Gloria Bradley, Ashanah Gayden, Sarah Goldgar, Steven Hua, Carly Kimpling, Anthony Rickman, Shivan Vohra, Ian Westcott, Candy Zheng

Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Juniors

Elina Babkina, Isabella Gaona, Jacqueline Villa, Huong Ho, Brandon Hong, Colin Kennelly, Brandon Mack, Anthony Mays, Chiemeka Nzerue, Chelsea Stone

Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Seniors

Sarah Beharry, Cameron Bennett, Madeline Burkey, Kendal Hill, Najifa Hossain, Jestini Jordan, Asiah McWhorter, Michelle Nguyen, Toni Norton, Matthew York

Salem High School, Sophomores

Grace Faulkner, Starr Garner, Xavier Howell, Vancey Jackson, Jada Johnson, Lindsay McKie, Brandis Moody, Jailyn Prewitt, Glory Ward, Sariah Ward

Salem High School, Juniors

Sydney Drake, Jasmin Foreman, Ashley Jackson, Alysia Lloyd, Emily Mahabir, Jordan Newton, Fiona Oktafian, Merari Patino, Jamar Rowe, Jocelyn Vega

Salem High School, Seniors

Alexis Berry, Reanna Daley, Duane Hale, Alexis Hardy, Octavia Herbert, Shadaymona Jackson, Christina Mandzyuk, Christian Peralta, Demetrious Sampson, Jr., De’Shavon Wood

Honor Teachers

Andrea Allen, Christopher Anglin, Lauren Arrington, Allison Asberry, Capt. Tommie Banks, Amy Baxter, Sarah Benjamin, Charlotte Booker, Amanda Briggs, Tre’nee Brooks, Robert Brown, Yukiko Buck, Dr. Katherine Carey, Suzanne Carter, Jennifer Caruso, Audrey Champion, Lydia Churillo, Msgt. Robert Crenshaw, Audrey Dallas, Owen Daniel, Antoinette Davis, Jarrod Davis, Donna Duke, Kelly Elder, Paola Fachisthers, Seth Field, Tapetress Ford, Darius Freeman, Laura Freeman, Shaun Freeman, Dr. Kenneth Gafford, Dr. Charles Garner, Maj. Donald Hanks, Rosaida Hardaway, Karen Hardy, James Hauck, Eric Hollier, Andre Johnson, Dr. Tanisha Jones, Terrell Jones, Tiffany Jones, Tyanna Jones, Patrick Kicklighter, Katy King, Jennifer Jinsey, Whitney Logsdon, Chef Rian MacDonald, Charly McAllister, Liz McGowan, Michael McGuckin, Jessica McLaughlin, Darvin McRoy, Zontrina Morton, Dr. Jill Murphy, Maria Nishio, LaToya Pledger, Christopher Poole, Tabatha Presley, Jason Price, Adam Raymond, Granville Rickets, Steven Roach, Gordon Roddenberry, DeBraca Rodriguez, Jalisa Rogers, Dr. Debra Russell, Michael Ryan, Francoise Scott, Shelley Seagraves, Karleta Sigman, Marleta Sigman, Cheryl Sikes, Hillary Simpson, Martin Snagg, Vincent Sneed, Caroline Snell, Michael Sommer, Kevin Surrette, April Swain, Samantha Swaney, Jennifer Tookes, Tanya Trent, Cherie Ullo, Elizabeth Walker, Nicholas Walker, Dametria Williams, Kiesha Williams, Dr. Nathan Wisdom, David Yancey

A native of Hampton, Ga., Joe Adgie has been working in newspapers since 2014. He joined the Rockdale/Newton Citizen in July 2017.