The LEAD Academy High School Class of 2016 is the third straight class to earn 100 percent college acceptance, LEAD Public Schools officially announced Thursday morning at the annual College Breakfast. 

“Our students know that LEAD seniors who have come before them have accomplished this and they feel a responsibility to keep pace and hold the bar high for our younger students,” said CEO Chris Reynolds. “This is not something LEAD takes for granted and it is not something that comes easily. It takes a true commitment on the part of our students and staff to ensure our families are prepared for success in college and in life. We are elated to share this news for the third year in a row.

“Each one of (our) students is an inspiration,” Reynolds said during his College Breakfast remarks. “Many of our students have have overcome incredible odds.”

To date, every graduating class from LEAD Academy has attained this honor. Ninety percent of this year’s senior class are the first in their families to go to college. Colleges that accepted LEAD seniors include Lipscomb University, Belmont University, Trevecca Nazerene University, Fisk University and nearby Middle Tennessee State University. They also include the University of Tennessee, Xavier, Spelman College and The University of Memphis, among others.

“This measure is engrained in the fabric of what we try to do at LEAD Academy,” said Head of School LaVoe Mulgrew. “Our students and our families are among the hardest working, dedicated people I know. We could not be any prouder of our students then we are today.”

College counselor Christine Harris said she is proud of the legacy of previous classes continuing.

“I’m thankful for the dedication of the students and staff,” she said. “This means our kids have more opportunities for their futures with the college option,” she said. Co-counselor Courtney McEwen agreed.   

“The Class of 2016 is all about family,” she said. “Seventeen of the 41 are LEAD originals and have been together since 6th-grade. They love, support, and push each other through good times and bad.”

During the College Breakfast, LEAD High alumna Jiah Toms spoke highly of her time as a student, where she honed her college- and career-ready skills by focusing on the LEAD Ethos – students, families and staff members all aspire to lead because they are courageous, committed, disciplined, self-reliant and because they strive to serve others.

“LEAD Academy set me on the pathway to fulfilling my dream to help others through medicine,” she said. “Exactly what my career will look like at this point, I’m not sure. But I do know for sure that without LEAD, I would not be where I am today.”

More than 300 people attended the College Breakfast on Thursday morning inside the historical Bell Tower on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Korean Veterans Boulevard. There, they heard firsthand about the LEAD story in Nashville and keynote remarks from Mr. Amos-Leon’ Otis, a 2015 Rosa Parks Courage Award Winner.

Mr. Otis called the LEAD Ethos a "lighthouse" that will guide students throughout their lives. 

"It will not always be easy," he said. "It may not always be right. Stay true to your Ethos and you will succeed."

The high school officially opened its doors in 2007 as an open-enrollment middle school serving the needs of students in grades 5 and 6 in North Nashville. Since then, LEAD has added a grade each year; LEAD Academy has operated as a middle and high school since 2013.

This past August, LEAD Academy Middle and High schools were awarded Reward School status, along with LEAD Southeast. A Reward School is a school whose students have demonstrated growth in the top 5 percent of schools statewide.

This week marks the first of at least three times the Class of 2016 will be celebrated. LEAD’s traditional Senior Signing-Day takes place at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, April 29 at Belmont University inside the Curb Event Center. There, the senior class will publicly declare the college in which they plan on attending.

The following month, on May 19, the Class of 2016 graduates at Cameron: A LEAD Public School.

If you are a member of the media interested in covering either of these upcoming events, please contact Jon Zlock, LEAD’s director of communications, via email at If you are interested in supporting or attending Senior Signing Day or graduation, please contact Ruth Huggins, LEAD’s director of development, via email at

For more than two dozen photos of this morning's event, please visit our facebook page