Kendall Jackson’s proverbial floor would perhaps be a welcome ceiling for many.
The Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School Class of 2013 valedictorian’s list of accomplishments stretches well beyond the classroom.
Credit a nurturing environment, strong support system and set of can’t-miss intangibles for getting her this far.
Each day, though, begins and ends with one maxim.
“I believe that I am defined by my actions and how I react to the circumstances around me,” said Jackson, already the distinguished scholar and humanitarian.
In addition to serving in multiple National Honor Society posts, Jackson was named National Leader of the Year for Girl Talk, an Atlanta-based international peer-to-peer mentoring program serving tens of thousands of middle-school-age girls.
“Kendall Jackson is one in a million,” said Girl Talk founder and executive director Haley Kilpatrick. “She is the real deal and wise beyond her years.
“Her quiet leadership is what I admire most about her. You can always count on her to do the right thing, … have a positive attitude and remember details that make people feel valued and loved.”
Jackson plans to study biomedical engineering at Harvard University before moving on to medical school.
That path reflects her “passion” for helping others through the medical field and research. Its gestation began with Jackson’s own medical challenges.
Jackson was on crutches for a time last year due to a bone marrow issue and osteopenia in her foot, brought on by a serious sports injury that prematurely ended her prep soccer career. A diagnosis proved elusive, taking painstaking six-plus months.
The teenager still managed to channel enough energy and resolve during that time to coordinate several weekends of meals at Ronald McDonald House and conduct a hugely successful Books for Africa book drive.
Jackson’s disposition is perhaps best described as a combination of youthful effervescence and seasoned humility. Case-in-point: The self-aware 18-year-old’s philosophy on life draws from a popular fantasy book/movie series.
As a means of reinforcing her aforementioned notion of one’s defining elements, Jackson references the following line from the seminal entertainment vehicle, “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring:”
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Jackson has committed that quote to memory, a motivational keepsake of sorts.
“It reminds me that the situation does not define us, but rather our actions in the face of circumstances — difficult or otherwise,” Jackson said. “It reminds me to persevere in all that I do, commit to a challenge and act positively.”
Valedictorians and salutatorians
Editor’s note: The Howard School and Galloway School do not name valedictorians and salutatorians. Pace Academy, Atlanta International School and Holy Spirit Preparatory School and have not yet released the names of their valedictorians and salutatorians. Information on valedictorians and salutatorians from Brandon Hall School, Cumberland Academy of Georgia and Mount Vernon Presbyterian School was not available at press time.
School - Valedictorian; Salutatorian
Atlanta Girls’ School - Ferra Pinnock; Sarah Diamond
Cumberland - Daniel Inskeep; None
Ben Franklin Academy - Skylar Sims; None
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School - Kendall Jackson; James Best
The Lovett School - Elizabeth Wesley; Melissa Li
Marist School - Jack Leahey; Jason Morris
Mount Vernon - Corey Knapp; Megan McBryde
North Atlanta High - Ian Katz; Eva May
North Springs High - Emily Kelly; Michael Hochman
Pace - Andrew Schettino; Meredith Bradshaw
Riverwood High - Ariel Pinsky; Hannah Weiss
St. Pius X Catholic High School - David Spratte; Barbara Anne Kozee
Weber School - Gavriella Mendel; Benjamin Stolovitz
Westminster Schools - Boys: Joe Sheehan; Kunal Kamath; Girls: - Meg Panetta; Lilly Chin
Whitefield Academy - Holt Merkle; Morgan Landers
Woodward Academy - Kelly Marie Guest; Mary Helen deGolian and Justin Samuel Payan
— Compiled by Staff Writers Caroline Young and Bobby Tedder