Zayden Leonard Excels In Classroom

Senior Zayden Leonard has distinguished himself as an outstanding student and athlete at Shades Valley. Leonard, who has a 4.1 GPA and is ranked 10th in his senior class, will pursue a degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Med from Mississippi State University after graduation.

Leonard has received $756,000 in scholarship offers, is an Honor Graduate, a Top-20 Scholar, received the Distinguished Athlete award, the ACT Work Keys award, the Principal’s Leadership award, and WBRC FOX6’s Rising Star award. Leonard is a member of the National Honor Society, National Honor Society English, National Honor Society Spanish, Student Government Association, and Mu Alpha Theta.

“At Shades Valley High School, we take pride in being accountable, respectful, and empathetic,” said Principal Taki Sarhaan. “Zayden exemplifies those qualities, and he’s just an overall model student and young man. It has been a pleasure to serve as his principal.”

Leonard is humble about his success in the classroom. “I just always work hard in everything I do,” he said. “I have goals, and I want to achieve them.”

Outside of the classroom, Leonard played football for the Mounties last fall. Leonard thought his time on a football field was over after tearing an ACL as a sophomore and turning his focus to basketball. However, coach Rueben Nelson had other ideas. “Coach Nelson saw me in the hallway and asked me to play,” Leonard said. “That’s when I decided to give it a second chance.” Leonard was a great addition to the team as an offensive guard.

“Zayden is a good athlete with great potential,” said Nelson. “As his coach, I enjoyed knowing his grades were his top priority.”

Leonard was also a member of the Shades Valley basketball team. His hard work and dedication impressed the Mountie head coach.

“Zayden epitomizes the term student-athlete,” said coach Audwin Howard. “He was a pleasure to have as a part of this team. He is an outstanding young man with great character and an amazing work ethic.”

“He also has an amazing support system. His mother is a wonderful woman,” said Howard. “You can clearly see the educational foundation she has instilled in him.”

Leonard’s mom, Mimi Leonard, is the owner of Frozen Rooster restaurants. She shows her son what hard work looks like as a business owner. Leonard can be found working for his mom in his spare time. “Zayden has been self-motivated and laser-focused since he was young,” she said. “His unwavering work ethic & high aspirations have helped him excel in every aspect of life.”

The future is extremely bright for Leonard. “I’m super excited to see what the future holds for this young man,” said Howard. “He will be successful in whatever field he decides to pursue.”

Leonard knows that hard work is the key to his success. His favorite quote by Frederick Douglas sums up his work ethic perfectly. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

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