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Teen writes Yale essay about love for pizza, gets accepted

Applying to an Ivy League school can be a daunting task for any high school senior. To make it more fun, a teen from Brentwood, Tennessee, wrote about her love of pizza in one of the essays she wrote for her application to Yale University.

>> Read more trending news

ABC News reported that when Carolina Williams found out she was accepted into the New Haven, Connecticut, school in March, she received notes from the university's admissions team that singled out her essay about Papa John’s pizza. It was one of nearly 10 essays she submitted in her application.

“It really tickled me that they specifically commented on that one because there were a ton of essays,” Williams told ABC News. “I think it stood out because it was just very genuine and reflective of me and it was kind of taking a risk, I guess.” reported that the reviewer of Williams’ application was especially amused at her essay and said as much in her acceptance letter.

Related: This essay about Costco got a high school senior into 5 Ivy League schools

“As someone who kept trying to read books for fun on top of thousands of applications this winter, I really loved your essay on reading 100 books in a year and I laughed so hard on your pizza essay,” the reviewer wrote. “I kept thinking that you were the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with. I want you to know that every part of your application stood out in our process and we are thrilled to be able to offer you a spot at Yale.”

Williams wrote in her essay that ordering pizza at the chain when she was younger “made me feel grown-up” and that the slices “evoke feelings of independence, consolation, and joy.”

USA Today reported that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter offered Williams gift cards, a pizza party for her dorm, free pizza for a year and an internship.

Family and friends were so amused that they encouraged her to share the essay on Twitter, where she posted it on May 9.

Despite the warm response from the admissions team, Williams will be attending Auburn University in Alabama in the fall with a $72,000 scholarship over four years. Williams plans to study business and economics.

Luckily for Williams, Auburn has a Papa John’s on campus.

Michael Brown’s mom, Lesley McSpadden, receives high school diploma

Graduations aren’t just for sons and daughters. They are for parents, too. One of the latest mothers to walk across the stage is Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown.

»Related: Georgia mother and daughter graduate college together 

The activist earned her diploma alongside her daughter, Daysa, in Missouri thanks to the local school district’s adult high school education program, which allowed her to attend classes on weekday afternoons. 

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McSpadden, who left school after giving birth to her son in her junior year, decided to go back after creating the We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation. The initiative, made in her deceased child’s honor, focuses on advocating for justice and advancing education. So when Art McCoy, a Missouri school district superintendent, learned McSpadden never completed school, he encouraged her to finish. 

>> Related: Three generations of women graduating this year celebrate in photo shoot

"We had to get her educated and get a diploma,” McCoy told the St. Louis Dispatch. “What better way is it to honor your son than to get the degree he got?”

»RELATED: Florida university to honor Trayvon Martin and family with posthumous degree

This week, McSpadden graduated high school 21 years after leaving, smiling from ear to ear. 

>> Related: Florida student wears Black Lives Matter-inspired prom dress

In 2014, her son, who was unarmed, was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer at age 18. His controversial death ignited national outrage, sparking racial tension across the county. 

»Recommended video: RE: Race, an AJC conversation 

National Spelling Bee champ clinches title with ‘marocain’

A sixth-grader from California became the first solo winner of the National Spelling Bee since 2013, as Ananya Vinay correctly spelled “marocain” to win Thursday night..

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Vinay, 12, became the first solo winner of the Bee since 2013, NPR reported. The winning word—marocain — is a heavy crepe fabric, its name derived from the French word for Moroccan.

"I just focused on my word and tried to spell it right," she said after spelling 35 words correctly, according to CNN. "It's a like a dream come true. I am so happy right now."

Vinay defeated 14-year-old Rohan Rajeev for the title in the 90th version of the contest. The two deadlocked for 20 rounds until Rohan, an eighth-grader, tripped on the word "marram" (the Norse-derived word for a type of grass).

Vinay won $40,000 in cash, a $2,500 savings bond and a large collection of reference books, NPR reported. Rohan, who was bidding to become the first winner from Oklahoma since 1965, won $30,000. 

To break the ties that had ended the previous three championship rounds, the bee added a written, 24-question test that all finalists had to take Thursday night. The results would have been used as a tiebreaker in the event that the finalists were able to make their way through the entire list of prepared words for the finals, NPR reported.

Senior prank fills school hallway with balloons

Students at a high school in Iowa took a colorful approach to their senior prank.

Seniors at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines filled the first-floor hallway with multicolored balloons Wednesday, KCCI reported. 

>> Read more trending news

School officials approved the idea. 

Seniors graduated Saturday, so those in lower grades spent the last day of the school year removing the balloons.

Google reveals America’s most misspelled words

Some words prove trickier to spell compared to others, and now Google is showing exactly which words those are. 

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On Tuesday, Google Trends released a graphic that shows America’s most misspelled words by state based on how many times people searched the phrase “how to spell.” 

>> Related: 'Surreal' dubbed Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year

>> Related: Xenophobia named 2016 Word of the Year

>> Related: National Spelling Bee becoming easier to predict

>> Related: 12-year-old wins 3rd straight California State Spelling Bee

Homeless teen graduating high school with 4.0 GPA

A Texas teen has overcome tremendous odds to graduate high school with a perfect grade-point average.

Joshua Reddick, 18, will receive his diploma from Haltom High School Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Reddick spent much of the last four years homeless, moving from motel to motel room, or crashing on the couch at friends’ homes.

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Reddick's mother was deported to Mexico 11 years ago; his father moved the family from upstate New York to Texas for job opportunities but the family fell on hard economic times.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

In addition to schoolwork, Reddick has two jobs and works 30 hours a week, the Star-Telegram reported. 

Reddick is graduating with honors with a perfect 4.0 GPA and plans to enroll at Austin Community College, then transfer to the University of Texas at Austin.

N.J. school district’s anti-bullying director fired for alleged bullying

A New Jersey school district’s anti-bullying director was fired last week for allegedly trying to threaten a student to keep quiet about an altercation between the director and a 16-year-old girl, the New Jersey Herald reported.

>> Read more trending news

Ron Rivera, 55, a retired New Jersey State Police captain who also served as the security director for the Vernon Township School District, was fired following an internal investigation into the matter, the Herald reported.

The matter was first publicly disclosed at the May 18 Vernon Board of Education meeting. An 18-year-old student at Vernon Township High School, who asked that his name not be published, said that he had been confronted by Rivera in the school stairwell after the alleged altercation and "threatened" by him not to say anything about what he had witnessed.

The altercation, which was confirmed by a school official requesting anonymity, involved a 16-year-old female sophomore on whom Rivera allegedly used physical force, the Herald reported.

The student who witnessed it said he later reported the details of what occurred to Assistant Principal Nancy LoPresti, who contacted school district officials, the Herald reported.

A retired 27-year veteran state trooper, Rivera took over in January as the Vernon Township School District's security director and anti-bullying coordinator, the Herald reported. He could not be reached for comment, the newspaper reported.



S.D. teen with brain cancer allowed to graduate 

A 17-year-old South Dakota student with brain cancer will be allowed to walk with her class at graduation on Sunday after school officials reversed their decision, the Rapid City Journal reported.

>> Read more trending news

Originally, Meridith Erck was told by the Rapid City School Board that she could not participate in graduation ceremonies for Central High School because she was six credits short of earning a diploma. She wanted to graduate with her twin brother, the Journal reported.

Schools Superintendent Lori Simon and Central Principal Mike Talley had rejected the request of Erck and her mother. The Journal reported that the district reversed itself after an outpouring of support for Erck.

Erck was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015, and previously had colon cancer. Her illness prevented her from completing all of her classes on time.



Police called after adults brawl at kindergarten graduation

A fight broke out at an elementary school graduation ceremony in New Mexico Wednesday, but no kids were involved.

A scuffle among adults broke out at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School during the kindergarten graduation ceremony.

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A school spokesperson told KRQE that the incident began when two adults sitting in the parents section began fighting. A parent who witnessed the incident told KRQE that instead of helping break up the brawl, more adults joined the fight. Police were called and the ceremony was temporarily suspended until order could be restored.

The graduation ceremony then finished without further incident.

Dozens of seniors barred from graduation ceremonies after ‘dangerous’ prank

Dozens of Middle Georgia high school seniors won’t be able to attend their graduation ceremonies, after they participated in a “dangerous and unsafe” prank, school officials said.  

The 35 Baldwin High School seniors met in the parking lot of the Milledgeville school before classes Thursday, wearing black clothes and white masks, the Macon Telegraph reported.  

The students sprayed water guns and threw water balloons in the cafeteria and nearby hallway, the newspaper reported.  

>> Read more trending news

Schools Superintendent Noris Price said in a statement the incident “created a very dangerous and unsafe situation.”  

Two other students suffered panic attacks, and paramedics had to be called to help one of them, school spokesman Byron Wellman said.  

The students will still receive their diplomas and any honors they’ve earned, officials said.

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