While Oconee’s private school top graduates are finishing their studies during this atypical school year,
they aspire to make a difference in the future as doctors, nurses, politicians and business owners.
Athens Academy took the unique step of recognizing three valedictorians for the class of 2020: twin brothers Elliot and Logan Williamson and one of their classmates, A.J. Peppers.
At Prince Avenue Christian School, Jaden Drudge was declared valedictorian and Hunter Melton salutatorian.
Westminster Christian Academy recognized McKenna Sanville as valedictorian and Caelan McKenzie as salutatorian.
Athens Academy Head of School John Thorsen said that while he and the school community were heartbroken that they could not celebrate students’ achievements, student leaders should still be commended.
“These three students are deserving of this award after years of intellectual curiosity and hard work,” Thorsen said.
Upper School Director Susan Zalac agreed, adding that the school is very proud of the Williamson brothers and their classmate, A.J. Peppers.
“They are outstanding and driven students who have excelled in everything that they have done, and I have no doubt in everything that they will do,” she said.
Peppers is a National Merit Finalist and a member of the Cum Laude and National Honor Societies. He was also a member of the Honor Council all four years of high school and was elected to serve on the council’s Judiciary Board.
His other extracurricular endeavors include running for four years on the track and field team and performing in the one-act play competition as a freshman.
Peppers will attend the University of Virginia this fall.
Elliot is a National Merit Finalist and a member of the Cum Laude and National Honor Societies. He was also selected as one of the academy’s 2020 STAR students. As a senior, he served as the director of events for the student body, one of the school’s most notable student leadership positions. Previously, he served as the class of 2020’s vice president during his sophomore and junior years.
As a sophomore, he helped found a partnership between the academy’s upper school and the Boys and Girls Club of Athens and has since served as president of this partnership.
Elliot’s athletic endeavors include competing on the upper school’s cross country, wrestling and track and field teams for all four years. He served as the co-captain for the cross country and wrestling teams during his senior year. Elliot will attend the University of Georgia as a Foundation Fellow. He plans to major in business and economics, with a minor in Spanish.
Logan is a National Merit Finalist and a member of the Cum Laude and National Honor Societies. He was also selected as one of the academy’s 2020 STAR students. His civic endeavors include serving on the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission as part of the environmental sustainability committee.
He also participated in the outdoor recreational Sanborn Western Camps in Colorado for eight years, attending as a camper and later as a counselor.
Athletically, he competed on the Athens Academy cross country, wrestling and track and field teams during his time in high school and served as the co-captain for the cross country and wrestling teams alongside his brother. Logan will attend the University of Georgia as a Foundation Fellow. He plans to major in economics and political science, with a minor in Spanish.
Prince Avenue Christian School Valedictorian Jaden Drudge has attended PACS for seven years. He was a 2019 Georgia Merit Scholar and participated in the National Honor Society and the Beta and Interact clubs.
He also earned the school’s Wolverine Academian Gold Award for the highest grade point average in his class each year of his high school career.
His extracurricular endeavors include participating on the Academic Team, fine arts performances and running for the cross country and track teams.
Outside of school, Drudge attends Athens First United Methodist Church, where he is involved in the youth choir and volunteers with a program helping to feed those in need. He will attend Wake Forest University.
Salutatorian Hunter Melton has attended Prince Avenue for seven years. He was a 2019 Georgia Merit Scholar and participated in the National Honors Society, Beta and Interact clubs. He also earned the Wolverine Academian Award.
Melton took part in the school’s academic and varsity baseball teams during high school. He attends First Baptist Church of Monroe, where he volunteers at Vacation Bible School each year.
Additionally, he volunteers at FISH Monroe by helping to pack lunches in the summer for children in the community. Melton will attend Georgia Tech, where he will pursue a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in Spanish.
Westminster Christian Academy
Westminster Christian Academy Valedictorian McKenna Sanville earned the University of Georgia’s Certificate of Merit and the Founder’s Award for the highest grade average in multiple Westminster classes. She was also a semi-finalist in the Governor’s Honor Program and a member of the National Honor and Spanish Honor societies.
Additionally, she served as a student council and small group leader and participated in the academy’s Spanish Club. She played basketball, cross country, soccer and tennis.
Outside of school, Sanville has volunteered at a local health center and worked at a farm. Sanville will attend UGA, where she plans to pursue a major in biology and a minor in Spanish. She wants to become a nurse and will attain an advanced nursing degree.
Salutatorian Caelan McKenzie has attended Westminster for 13 years. During high school, she participated in the National Society of High School Scholars and the National Honor and Spanish Honor societies. She received the Anderson University Presidential Fellows Scholarship and Zell Miller Scholarship.
Her extracurricular endeavors include serving on student council, for which she won a service award. She also participated in Youth Assembly and Mock Trial.
Additionally, she played on the soccer, swimming and tennis teams. McKenzie will attend UGA and plans to study interior design and architecture. She wants to become an interior designer and artist.