Darryl Terry | American Graduate Champions | PBA30

Frederick Douglass High School Valedictorian Sets Sights High, Standards Even Higher

by Shelby Lin Erdman • NOV 10, 2015

Merriam-Webster defines valedictorian as “the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises.”

For the Frederick Douglass High School Class of 2015 that person was Darryl Terry, Jr. But in Terry’s case, at least, he was more than the highest ranking student. He was also a role model for others, according to Terry’s Social Studies teacher Benyta Lane.

“He’s very focused and when students see him doing what he needs to do every day, then it gives them something to aspire to” Lane said about Terry, a PBA 30 American Graduate Champion.

As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out.

Lane also said Terry had an “exceptional…work ethic” and that “he embodies what a great student is.”

Terry, a high school athlete who was involved with a number of student organizations, said he knew that school was his ticket to a better life.

amgrad_logo.jpg “I believe that education is important because it is vital to the success of students overall,” Terry said.

“As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out,” he added.

An Atlanta Public Schools press release said Darryl Terry, Jr. has excelled as a leader throughout his community being selected as Fulton County Youth Commission Rookie of the Year 2013.

Lane explained that the leadership quality mentioned by APS is also something Terry brought to school every day.

“[He] works hard. He plays, he’s popular, the kids like him, but he gets it done and at the end of the day, he’s here to get the job done.”

Terry has his own philosophy when it comes to school and his teachers.

“I alway believed that teachers are there to help you and guide you, but you have to be willing and wanting to do the work,” he said.

Terry is a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta, according to APS. He plans to seek a double major in political science and education, in hopes of becoming an attorney or a politician.

“I believe that through education, the possibilities are limitless.”

Video produced by Dan Gillette

PBA's Atlanta Champions


Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."


Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."


Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."


Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."


Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."


Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."


Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."


Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."


Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."


Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."


Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."


Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."


Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."


Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."