Gail Devers welcomes Stone Mountain kindergartners to first grade

students-perform-on-stageOne DeKalb County School District (DCSD) elementary school welcomed more than 90 kindergarten students into first grade in style on May 16.

Stone Mountain Elementary graduated 95 students in five classes into first grade on May 16. The event—which featured performances from each class and a special certificate ceremony—welcomed hundreds of parents, brothers, sisters, and other family members.

Performances ranged from “Mask Off,” which detailed the importance of being yourself, to “Rollie Rollie for Reading,” that described the importance of reading. Other songs included the math-oriented “Our Plan,” as well as science songs “Kids in Motion,” and “Look to the Sky.”

However, it was three-time gold medal winner and former Olympian Gail Devers who truly inspired students with an end-of-the-year message to students.

“Are you ready for first grade?” Devers asked students before receiving a thunderous response.

gail-devers-poses-with-principal-and-apGail Devers is a retired track and field athlete who represented the United States on the Olympic stage in 1992 and 1996. She won gold medals in two 100-meter dash events as well as the 4×100 meter relay events.

The secret to Devers’ success? Simply doing her best, she says

“For doing my best, they gave me gold medals,” Devers said. “What you guys are doing today is better than gold medals. You should earn platinum medals. You’re showing your mothers, fathers and the principals everything you have learned—and it’s just a start.”

Devers instructed students to make first grade better than kindergarten and continue to learn at every opportunity. She advised to act like a sponge and soak up all available knowledge from teachers.

“You can’t just give a little, you have to give 100 percent,” Devers said. “If you think you can’t give more, give 100 percent and a little more. Soak up all that knowledge and squeeze it out at the end of the year and show them what you know.”

students-wave-to-parentsDevers told students that every day can’t possibly be a great day, but instructed them to look forward to the good days. She also advised students to be a shining example on the worst days.

“Be responsible, be respectful, and always be ready to learn,” Devers said.

Devers instructed parents to stay involved beyond kindergarten and maintain attendance at school events for the remainder of their child’s academic career.

“That makes the difference—you are their first teacher,” Devers said. “By reading to them at night, it makes a difference. You’re helping their vocabulary expand. It just continues, and it’s a great opportunity.”