It was a beautiful 75 degree morning in Atlanta as students across the city eagerly packed their bags and laced up their new tennis shoes to begin the new school year.
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) were excited to launch the new John Lewis Invictus Academy (JLIA) named after civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman, John Lewis.
“It has taken APS far too long to name a school after him,” shouted Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, to a gym filled with hundreds of middle schoolers, parents, and teachers. She added, “Lewis is a great American for everyone… he thinks we are all equal.”
Gregory Parks, principal of JLIA, stood at the schools entrance greeting students and staff before the ceremony, then joined the Atlanta Board of Education in honoring Lewis at his namesake campus.
Congressman Lewis, who grew up in rural Alabama attending a single-room school, was joyful when he arrived to a fleet of cameras and attention.
Once Lewis took the podium, he applauded the students and staff, encouraged them to read, and challenged them to dream big because they have the potential to accomplish anything they put their minds too.
“It’s very moving, I never had any idea or any dream that one day a school would be named after me,” said Lewis afterwards.
He hopes this school positively impacts the lives of students in the Douglas Cluster, a low income area located off Hollowell Parkway, formerly named Bankhead highway in West Atlanta.
When asked, Lewis declined to comment on any political matters because he wanted to dedicate his energy towards the students.
For now, it’s back to school for all the students in Atlanta, and future leaders of the world.
- Julien Virgin is a staff writer at CBS Radio Atlanta.