Top Ten Seniors at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology
(in alphabetical order)
Oreoluwa V. Adekunle
Uchenna F. Anunobi
Zineb Sophia Bouzoubaa
Julian Albert Hinds
Fanfei Faustine Li
Emily Melissa Pace
Michael James Taylor
Jalem Douglas Towler
Ana Sofia Tuttle
Ksenia V. Zakirova
A Conversation with Faustine Li and Sofia Tuttle:
FL: When I was in middle school, I did not think science or technology was my career path. I wanted to be a teacher or novelist or something along those lines.
Magnet was a big leap for me.
ST: Having been there just for eighth grade, I was intimidated by the big public school. I really liked the small class size and individual attention at the middle school and I thought Magnet would be the same.
I was awestruck when I came to the open house and saw all these math teams and science Olympiad. I was looking for something to challenge myself and I definitely thought this would be it.
FL: We talked to a few people during the open house, and they told us Magnet is super hard. They pile on the homework. You can only pick two of three things: sleep, having a social life, grades.
ST: I was told all these techniques like ‘sleep two hours, wake up do homework, sleep another hour.’ It was intimidating.
But freshman year, we were like, oh, we got this. This is easy. Junior year was very difficult.
FL: It ramps up. You can manage this year, and then next year is a little harder, and you learn how to manage the next year.
ST: As long as you consistently keep your priorities straight, you’ll be fine.
FL: We’re both doing extracurricular activities, we’re helping out in the community.
I do science Olympiad and math team – two big extracurricular activities.
ST: I do the peer mentoring program, lacrosse and cross country.
FL: I do like art. I like drawing. I need to get on it, but I think I’m going to submit something for the student art exhibit.
ST: She's a good artist. She doodles all the time in math.
FL: I have a lot of creative juices; I just don’t know what direction to put it in.
ST: She ended up putting it towards the STEM field
FL: Sometimes I feel bad turning in a piece of homework. This was rather nice. I want to see this again.
You know you've got some pretty smart kids when they can say going through Magnet School was not so bad.
This year's Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology valedictorian and salutatorian, Faustine Li and Sofia Tuttle, both remember hearing horror stories and hype when they came to the Magnet open house as wide-eyed eighth graders.
Li said, "We talked to a few people during the open house, and they told us Magnet is super hard. They pile on the homework. You can only pick two of three things: sleep, having a social life, grades."
Tuttle said, "I was told all these techniques like ‘sleep two hours, wake up do homework, sleep another hour.’ It was intimidating... But freshman year, we were like, 'Oh, we got this. This is easy.'
Tuttle added, "Junior year was very difficult."
"It ramps up," Li explained. "You can manage this year, and then next year is a little harder, and you learn how to manage the next year."
"As long as you consistently keep your priorities straight, you’ll be fine," said Tuttle.
These two unassuming, hard working students have obviously kept their priorites straight and their feet on the ground, as they've not only been among the top 10 students at the Magnet school for the past several years, but also take the time for service in the community and extra curriculars.
Li, who grew up in the Rockdale County Public School system and attended Honey Creek Elementary and Edwards and Davis Middle School, said she was not particularly interested in science or math fields as a career path when she was in middle school. She didn't really like science fairs in middle school.
"I wanted to be a teacher or novelist or something along those lines," she said. "Magnet was a big leap for me."
However, working with the teachers at the Magnet school changed her perspective. It was "definitely the support of the teachers," Li said. "They really do guide you very well in the process."
Li points out even though school, and college applications, took up a lot of time, she and Tuttle still have time for extra curriculars. Li was a part of the Science Olympiad and Math Club as well as community service projects.
Now, Li is headed to California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. where she's thinking of studying chemistry or chemical engineering. She enjoyed her AP Chemistry class, and the field has such wide applications, she said.
She was one of two students in the entire state of Georgia to win the Siemens Foundation Advanced Placement scholarship of $2,000.
She had initial hesitations about Cal Tech because of its distance and price, as a private college, but was attracted to its small class size and individualized attention.
She said she looks forward to a summer of leaving behind the stress of high school and visiting her grandparents in Shanghai, China.
Tuttle, who moved back to Rockdale for eighth grade after many years in Michigan and Iowa, wanted to be in the Magnet school mostly for its class size and attention.
"I was intimidated by the big public school," she said. "I really liked the small class size and individual attention at the middle school and I thought Magnet would be the same."
Tuttle remmeber she was awestruck at the open house when she saw things like the math teams and Science Olympiad. "I was looking for something to challenge myself and I definitely thought this would be it," she said.
She heard a couple weeks ago that she was salutatorian, but it didn't come as a surprise, since she and Li knew who were among the top students at the school. "It was nice to have it official, but I knew for the past two years that, unless I messed up, it was pretty stable," Tuttle said.
Tuttle also serves in the peer mentoring program and does cross country and lacrosse on the county's only lacrosse team. The team has to drive hours away to find other teams to play against. This year, they didn't do so well, she said with a laugh. "We are going against teams that have been playing out of the womb, and have these college coaches. But it’s fun, so we all enjoy it at least."
She'll be heading to Georgia Tech in the fall, where she recieved a four-year President's Scholarship. "I guess I wanted to go out of state initially, but when I looked at all my options, it was about the value of education. For what I’m looking to go into, biomedical engineering, Tech would be an excellent place for that," she said.
Before starting life as a Yellow Jacket, Tuttle said she looks forward to catching up on sleep this summer and visiting her grandparents in Portugal.