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Minority Students Feted for Academic Achievements

In ceremonies last Saturday at Chantilly High and Sunday at Colin Powell Elementary, minority students were honored for their academic achievements. It was the 19th annual Youth Motivation and Academic Awards presented by the Chantilly Pyramid Minority Student Achievement Committee.

Founder Shirley Nelson of Poplar Tree Estates was present, and husband Johnny Nelson, CPMSAC president, greeted the students. Then Chantilly Principal Tammy Turner congratulated them all.

But, she told the students, "Your work is not over — learning and achieving are ongoing things forever. Always reach higher; never settle for just getting by. Continue making us proud, every single day you're in our schools."

Britanne Socks, a 2002 Chantilly High grad, was mistress of ceremonies. Now a psychology major about to begin her third year at UVA, she's been involved with CPMSAC since the fourth grade. And retired Air Force Col. Charles Coffin, a CPMSAC parent, spoke to the parents about the importance of their being involved in their children's education.

"Numerous studies show that when parents and guardians are actively involved in their child's school, their child achieves greater success," he said. "Students display a more positive attitude toward their school and toward themselves when parents are involved. And it's not just the job of mothers to get involved in school, but fathers, too."

The keynote speaker was Jason Bodie, a 1998 Chantilly grad and a 2004 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in landscape architecture. He now owns his own company, JTB Innovations Landscaping Co.

He said what kept him on the "straight and narrow" while growing up was the loving support of his family and "knowing they'll always be there for you." He also stayed focused and urged the students to do likewise: "Keep your mind on your studies and other positive outlets, like sports and community activities."

Bodie advised them to learn from their friends and accept guidance from their teachers. He also stressed the importance of faith, saying, "Nothing I could have done would have been possible without God." Added Bodie: "In order to make it, you have to put in a lot of hard work and make good decisions. Life's too short to get involved in negative activities."