Pictured: Kelcy Newton, Krista Dalton, Jonathan Jones, Aaron Brown and Carter Smith
Jonathan Jones and Josh Harris were star football players at Carrollton High School. Talented enough to earn college football scholarships at Auburn University.
And they were talented enough to become players in the National Football League, and will meet one another a week from today in the Super Bowl in Houston, Texas, when Jones’ New England Patriots will meet Harris’ Atlanta Falcons.
Jones and Harris, however, aren’t only gifted athletes, they are both pretty smart. They were standouts in Carrollton classrooms. Both are honor graduates at Carrollton High. And both made honor roll every year from sixth grade — when the school system begins keeping records of honors — until they graduated.
Both would go on to Auburn University. “I taught both Josh and Jonathan in government,” said Michael Harvey, social studies instructional coordinator at Carrollton High. “Both of them were exceptional young men. Extremely polite, well behaved, and hard workers. I had Josh as a senior. He always had a smile on his face in class. I knew that if he wasn’t smiling something was off. He enjoyed asking me questions to get class discussion going even if it wasn’t always on topic.
“I had Jonathan as a sophomore. He was all business in my AP Government class, very focused and ready to challenge if he felt I was wrong, and sometimes I was. They each have a great work ethic that serves them well and exemplify what it means to be a Trojan through and through. I’m very proud of them both.”
Their work ethic is something they are known for on the field. Science teacher Kristie Bradford-Hunt said that drive started for Harris in the classroom.
“Josh was an amazing student,” she said. “He always came to class prepared to work. He consistently took information and tried to apply it to the material he was presented with. I recall him being a problem solver and working to his fullest potential to be successful in chemistry.”
Harris was part of Beta Club, the National Honor Society, and the National Spanish Honor Society. He received the DAR Good Citizenship Award and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Award.
Jones was also in the National Honor Society, and was named Outstanding Senior. He participated in the Southwire Engineering Academy, an opportunity only available to 20 highachieving juniors and seniors at Carrollton High School.
“Jonathan was part of our inaugural Southwire Engineering Academy, and he and his fellow classmates helped pave the way for the future of SWEA,” said Mike Schmittou, Southwire’s director of OPS, energy manufacturing and lead engineer for SWEA. “As a student, Jonathan was a very bright, energetic and competitive young man. We are very excited to see him play in this year’s Super Bowl!”
As honor graduates, Jones and Harris got to choose a teacher who impacted them the most, then honor that teacher during an awards ceremony. The teacher could be from any point in their academic career.
Harris chose his junior high math teacher, Tillie Strickland. She’s now retired, but remembers Jones well.
“Jonathan was an incredible student with an infectious smile,” she said. “He was always on top of his game with his algebra, always prepared and eager to participate in classroom learning. I am so proud of him but not at all surprised by his success. He set his goals and achieved them one by one. It was a joy to teach him and an even bigger honor to be selected as his honor teacher. He is a young man I will never forget.”
Harris chose his mother, Lori Harris, as his honor teacher. Lori Harris was a career counselor at the high school, so had not taught her son in the classroom and was caught by surprise.
“I was truly touched,” she said. “It didn’t even cross my mind. I just assumed he would choose a teacher he’d had. It was very special.” Lori Harris said that at home school always came before sports.
“We always stressed academics first, then athletics. He was always serious about academics. But he also had coaches who instilled that at an early age.”
Tackle football for Harris started at age 8. And so did the priority of studying.
“His coach was Terry Plott, and Coach Plott would hold a 30- minute study hall before they could put on pads and go out to practice,” said Lori Harris. “We’re thankful for a lot of the coaches who mentored Josh along the way.”
Harris is Atlanta’s long snapper. Jones plays on special teams and the defensive secondary for New England.
Article Credit: Written by Donna Williams/Times Georgian
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