African-American students awarded for academic excellence

By Gus Bode

First ever Academic Awards Ceremony for black students in Carbondale

Cecelia Mayberry’s hard work finally paid off.

The senior from Carbondale Community High School accepted one of three awards she received at the Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony at the Carbondale Civic Center Friday night.

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“I was very excited and thrilled,” Mayberry said.

The ceremony, recognizing Carbondale’s African-American students, was the first ever to be held in Southern Illinois.

Cecelia and many other students from Carbondale’s Districts 95 and 165 were styling and profiling in high spirits to celebrate both their heritage and hard work during the 2001-2002 school year.

“They have the initiative and drive to do it themselves,” said Edward Mayberry, the father of Cecelia.

The awards were given out to a wide array of students from grades one through 12.

The perfect attendance award was handed out to 28 different students, including the top academic achievement for grades fourth through 12th and top senior academic athletes.

While the students accepted their awards, parents were asked to assist their child as a symbolic way of showing how they helped them to become what they are and will be.

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“It’s a motivation for the children of Carbondale,” said Margaret Nesbitt, a speaker at the event who has long been active in Carbondale’s African-American community.

“They know that there are people in this community that love them and want them to succeed.”

Twenty students were awarded for their academic success including seniors Mayberry, Wyatt Wallace and Arnold Ross.

“It’s the first time this award ceremony was held,” Nesbitt said. “I’m sure it motivated the students as well as the parents.”

Terry Nunn, senior associate director for the Grants and Administration Board of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, told students not to take life for granted.

He told the students to imagine receiving a present from their parents. When they unwrap their gifts, they open carefully and imagine the boxes hold their lives inside. He said the students should view all aspects of their life in this manner.

“Life is a gift, don’t trash it,” Nunn said.

Reporter J.D. Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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