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Atkins Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Bri 22 MAY 22, 2020 – Atkins senior Brianna “Bri” Thompson has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Thompson is one of only three Presidential Scholars in North Carolina and one of 121 across the country.  

“I am humbled and excited to receive this honor,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Chris Nicholas, the principal at Atkins Academic & Technology High. 

As part of the recognition, one of Thompson’s teachers at Atkins – Terry Howerton – is being recognized as a Distinguished Teacher. Howerton teaches Biotechnology and Biomedical Technology classes.

“Bri is an outstanding student, both in her academic life and in her desire to serve others,” Howerton said. 

“In a timely fashion, Bri has been applying her scientific mind to thinking about how to bring vaccines to remote areas. This idea helped her advance to the state science fair and to the TSA (Technology Student Association) nationals.”

“It was an honor to engage her in scientific thought and practice and I can't wait to see what she does next.”

Thompson will be attending Rice University where she plans to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As a career, she envisions studying infectious diseases and working to cure them.

Thompson is the daughter of Brian and Lisa Thompson. Her brother, William, is a freshman at Atkins.

At Atkins, Thompson is a member of the Technology Student Association and participates in many other clubs and organizations.

The announcement of 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars was made by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Each year, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars choose the scholars based on accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Here is the letter Thompson wrote to Nichols:

Principal Nichols,

In the next few days, you should receive notification that I have been selected as a 2020 US Presidential Scholar.  I am one of 121 academic scholars in the country and one of only 3 in NC.  I am humbled and excited to receive this honor. With my recognition, you will also receive notice of Mr. Howerton’s recognition as a Distinguished Teacher.  Mr. Howerton provided me with guidance, assistance, and opportunities that helped me succeed academically and explore real-world applications in my chosen field.  I want to thank him publicly for his help, counsel, and support. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank and recognize Mrs. Swing.  She has taught me about English and about life for many years.  She has supported me in my endeavors, and I deeply wish I could have nominated her along with Mr. Howerton for being a Distinguished Teacher. 

Both Mr. Howerton and Mrs. Swing were instrumental in my success during my time at Atkins, and in my being named a U.S, Presidential Scholar. Please accept a heartfelt thank you to both of you!  

I would also like to extend a thank you to Mrs. Tubbs and Mr. Plaster for their support and help during my time at Atkins. They have both gone above and beyond to let me succeed at Atkins.

Carrie Connell Swing teaches English at Atkins.

“Brianna ‘Bri’ Thompson is a fine scholar and an even better person,” Swing wrote. “While she clearly excels in her academic pursuits, Bri is also kind and caring – qualities that are in short supply in today’s competitive world.”

 “She collaborates willingly, thinks innovatively, and works diligently for the greater good. Bri is well-regarded by administrators, teachers, and fellow students, all of whom are impressed by her work ethic and maturity. She is helpful to all and readily volunteers her time and talent to improve our school culture and the Winston-Salem community at large.”

“Her inclusive and friendly nature attracts many and her friends are a diverse, loyal group. Bri’s calm presence amidst the turbulence of high school is indicative of her character and upbringing. You see, Bri is special and uniquely gifted!”

Felicia Tubbs is a School Counselor at Atkins.

“Congratulation, Bri,” Tubbs wrote. “I am so excited for you and thrilled to know you have received this honor (not surprised because you are a hard worker, wonderful student and deserve all the awards that come your way.” 

“Again, CONGRATS and continue to reach for the stars!  Take care and stay safe and healthy!”

Scott Plaster teaches English and servers as advisor or coach for such activities as the yearbook and Quill Writing Team.

“Hi Bri, that is terrific news!” Plaster wrote. “Congratulations. It is so well-deserved. Your achievements at Atkins really set you apart as exceptional. I'm glad you participated in the Quill and became a two-time champion in it!”

“As your coach, I knew to just let you do your thing. Your writing under the guidance of Atkins English teachers obviously prepared you so well for the task.”