New junior Evan Smith-Rooks (center) poses with new friends and juniors Amalia Maxa (left) and Lily Koch (right). Photo: Kalissa Greene

 Every school year, the Arthur M. Blank Family Upper School opens its arms to dozens of new students. Although most of the new students are freshmen, this year Pace welcomed seven new juniors to the Class of 2021. These new juniors (Myles Bolton, Matthew Cleveland, Micheal Fu, Jaamal Jones, Katherine Khajavi, Jordyn Lewis and Evan Smith-Rooks) add a new and fresh contribution to the Pace community. Bolton, Khajavi, and Smith-Rooks are all student-athletes who share the varsity football field on Friday nights. 

Bolton transferred from Campbell High School in Smyrna. “I transferred to Pace because my family and I knew it would provide me the opportunity to excel in academics and athletics,” said Bolton. Transferring to a new school is always difficult, but Bolton says that Pace has welcomed him into the community in many ways. “I definitely feel like I’m part of the Pace family,” he said. He recalls being greeted with smiles and positive energy at his welcome interview.

Mount Vernon transfer Khajavi similarly says that she “appreciates how welcoming and encouraging her new teachers have been.” Additionally, Northview High School transfer Smith-Rooks, applauds Pace for being “the best welcoming school [he] has attended.” 

Smith-Rooks and Bolton are members of the Pace varsity football team. Rooks started football in second grade. “It stuck with me ever sense,” he said. Bolton says he stuck with football “because of the brotherhood with other players, the energy and the mental and physical discipline required.” Football at a high level like varsity takes up plenty of time with games almost every week, but these student-athletes have learned to balance the workload. “During my free periods I always look forward to quiet time in the library to study,” said Bolton. Hooks on the other hand enjoys completing homework in the Seaman Family Student Commons.

Nearby on the football sidelines is Khajavi, a Pace varsity cheerleader. “Joining the cheer team at Pace has been really fun and I look forward to football and basketball games,” she said. 

This school year will bring its ups and downs, but these students look forward to their futures at Pace. All three students share a common goal to meet new people and establish lasting friendships. Bolton specifically looks forward to personal growth from his Pace experience. He plans to “work hard to excel in all classes to prepare for college.”

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