Updated: May 21
For Grace Catherine Hood, her high school years could not have been spent any better than in the halls of David Emanuel Academy. Throughout the last four years, the 18-year-old has accomplished much both academically and athletically. She will put the cherry on top this Saturday, graduating as her beloved institution’s 2022 salutatorian.
“I started at DEA as a K3 student, and I’ve loved every year I spent here,” Hood said. “I left for a few years and returned as a third grader. I’m so glad I did. I love this school so much. It’s a place that gave me opportunities and grew me stronger in my faith. Our little academy feels like home in a lot of ways, and DEA will always be important to me.”
Passion often lends to success, and that, in a nutshell, could be a frontrunner reason for her slew of achievements.
She started high school with a bang in the classroom. As a freshman, she was selected as her class’s vice president. She also won the DAR American Citizenship Award at the school and county levels.
As a sophomore, she attended the prestigious Fulford Youth Leadership Academy, was named Most Improved Cheerleader, was a finalist in the district spelling bee, and received for the first time American Citizenship Award. (Hood would receive the same award the following year as well.)
In the years since, she has represented on homecoming court, become a national finalist in the Coca-Cola Scholars Program, made the headmaster’s list numerous times, and become a member of the National Honor Society and the Student Advisory Board, among other accomplishments.
One of her fondest memories, however, is winning the title of Miss DEA in 2020.
“My most memorable moment from high school would have to be having that crown placed on my head,” the Canoochee native said. “Becoming Miss DEA opened so many doors for me and gave me a voice. I became someone kids could look up to. I felt honored to have been chosen for such an important job.”
Still, that memory might be topped this weekend.
“I set a goal to become one of the top in my class at the start of middle school. I worked hard and tried my best to succeed,” she said. “Becoming salutatorian, it’s really exciting and such an honor. We are a diversified class, and we each have positive characteristics that are all different and unique. Getting to realize this goal of mine to be at the top of my class while graduating with my friends, I couldn’t ask for anything else right now.” Her best advice to those who want to stand in her shoes one day is to always give 100 percent and trust that all else will fall into place.
Hood, like all students, has a list of teachers who have helped her along the way. One in particular stands out, however.
“Mrs. Donna Campbell, she has made a difference in both my personal life and in my academics. Her words of affirmation proves that she believes in me. She cares, and it shows. My academic success could not have been possible without her,” Hood explained.
Overall, she’s glad to have experienced DEA and all it has to offer—from athletics in track, soccer, one-act play, and cheer to extracurriculars, but she’s admittedly emotional about moving on, specifically to the University of Georgia.
“Although I am so excited to move to Athens, graduating is bittersweet for me. I love my school, and I am definitely going to miss it.”
She is the daughter of Clay and Allison Hood. Her grandparents are Buddy and Fran Meeks and Carl and Anne Hood. She has one brother, Clayton; he is 2.5-years-younger than her, and a fun fact about the two of them is Hood says she can never remember a time in her life when she was taller than him.