Project GRAD honors 99

Sandra ClarkFeature, Inside 640

As Project GRAD battles for life in the upcoming school system budget, leaders and donors honored this year’s 99 graduates in ceremonies April 22 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Project GRAD serves students in Austin-East and Fulton high schools and their feeder schools. This is the 14th class to earn GRAD scholarships since the program began in 2001.


Project GRAD scholar Aaron Winebarger is the 2018 valedictorian of Fulton High School, the son of Edward and Teresa Winebarger. He’s enrolled at UT where he aspires to work in robotic engineering or artificial intelligence development. (Photos provided by Project GRAD)

Superintendent Bob Thomas recommended cutting GRAD for the upcoming fiscal year but drew protests from parents and former scholars at the April school board meeting. The board deferred a budget vote until April 30.

Each student scholar who completes eligibility requirements can receive a scholarship up to $1,000 per year to assist with college. For the first time this year, all scholars who attend college full-time will also get a new laptop. The laptops were made possible by WATE-TV and individuals who donated during a recent telethon.

WATE’s Lori Tucker, the evening’s master of ceremonies, received the “Caught Doing Right for Kids” award.

Scholarship requirements include a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, graduating on-time, completing Knox County Schools’ required curriculum for graduation, and completing two GRAD Summer Institutes – one at Pellissippi State Community College or Tennessee College of Applied Technology and one at the University of Tennessee.

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