CITA Celebrates First Graduating Class with Awards Banquet


Cobb's cutting-edge career center, the Cobb Innovation and Technology Academy (CITA), has now been in operation for four full years. CITA welcomed its first class in 2020 virtually due to COVID restrictions, but this class persevered and set the bar high for future graduates. The 84 seniors who make up the inaugural class were recently honored at a banquet in the Academy's atrium catered by Acworth's 1885 Grill.

The Osborne Jazz Band, led by Director Isaac Wimberley, set the mood for the evening as students arrived with their friends and families. Yard signs proclaiming the various institutions and companies the Class of 2024 will be moving on to were set up on each table. Kennesaw State, Chattahoochee Tech, UGA, Georgia Tech, and military branches like the Marines and Navy were represented, as well as many others.

"This first class of students is well-rounded in every way," said CITA Director Dr. Tiffany Barney. "They participated in sports; they are involved in the community. They do a lot of things beyond the classroom. They committed to this program in their eighth-grade year before there was even a building to see. They're a group of kids that have been dedicated from the beginning."

Dr. Barney welcomed and thanked three special guests from the District—Tracy Guillory, former Assistant Director at CITA and current Principal at Lindley Middle School; Kelly Metcalfe, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning; and Sherri Hill, Chief of Staff—as well as CITA staff and teachers. "I get to spend a lot of time talking about CITA and doing the fun stuff, and these people do the work. I cannot thank you all enough for all that you do for our students," Dr. Barney said.DrBarney.jpg

After enjoying the delicious meal, each student was called up to receive a medal that they will wear at their commencement ceremony as Osborne graduates. 


As a class, the students completed 141 pathways offered through CITA, with more than half completing two or more. One motivated student completed five on his own: Carpentry, Electrical, HVAC/R, Plumbing, and Welding, in addition to earning various industry credentials. Liam Kilgore was recognized with a Five-Star Pathway Award and as the record-holder for most pathways completed at CITA. 


Three awards sponsored by the Atlanta Braves were also given to exceptional students. The first was the Counselor's Cornerstone Award for Character and Service, presented to Sarah Kate McDonough. The Leadership Award was presented to Nailah Oliver, and the Teacher's Choice Award was presented to Stephen Garcia.


Frida Flores was awarded the Employability Skills Award, sponsored by Johnson and Alday, for displaying the essential skills needed to thrive in today's professional world.


Cobb's CTAE Director Art O'Neill recognized two students as Student of the Year and Work-Based Learning Student of the Year. Sarah Kate McDonough and Deosi Means were each called up and given their award, as well as a $500 scholarship check.


Helena Huebecker and Anaiia Carter received the Academic Excellence Award for top two GPAs. These awards were sponsored by Croft and Associates. Helena earned a GPA of 4.281 and is attending Mississippi State, and Anaiia's GPA is 4.25, and she'll be attending Georgia Tech in the fall.


An exciting partnership with Wellstar Health System began this year and will award two $2500 scholarships to CITA students each year for the next 25 years. The inaugural winners of this scholarship are Karen Salas and Daniella Tudeme. Wellstar's Dr. Laura Dannels came to the stage to announce the first scholarship winners and present them with their checks.

"I am so glad to be here tonight and congratulate the Class of 2024 for their many amazing accomplishments. At Wellstar, we know we need a well-trained future workforce, and CITA's Healthcare Pathways are a perfect partnership. It was a difficult choice for us to narrow the selection down to these two students, but they are both exceptional and very deserving of these scholarships," said Dr. Dannels proudly.


Thanks to many corporate sponsors, each student was also gifted a tool of their trade to take home with them. Home Depot donated Ryobi tools, Cobb EMC gave backpacks and computer accessories, Wellstar donated stethoscopes, and much more. Each student also signed their yard sign, which will be prominently displayed at the CITA entrance for all to see on Windy Hill Road. 


Congratulations to the CITA inaugural class! We can't wait to see what you'll do next to build on the fantastic education and skills you received in Cobb. Well done, Class of 2024!