As we close out our Super Senior profile series, we’re excited to announce our Super Senior of the Year, Banneker High School’s Xavier Shankle. He has been not only a tremendous asset to his school and community, but also to The Observer in helping us to cover school news. We were delighted to present Xavier with a $100 gift card to celebrate his accomplishments and to thank him for his hard work.
Xavier’s is a model student. He is graduating third in his class having maintained a 4.0 GPA all four years, and has been named by Fulton County Schools as Banneker’s Star Student. He’s served as both president of his senior class and Banneker’s DECA Chapter where he placed Top 7 twice this year at the state competition. The gifted orator is also an alumnus of the nationally acclaimed Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project.
“Xavier is a silent leader, but a vocal leader,” said Banneker High Principal Jason Stamper. “He’s a silent leader because everyone in this school knows Xavier and they look at how he moves, how he conducts himself. But he’s also a vocal leader because he’s going to speak his mind in terms of what is right, what is wrong, what needs to be changed, what needs to be focused on.”
Xavier will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. He aspires to pursue a career in corporate law or investment banking and change the narrative of what it means to be an African American man in the business world. He also has plans to pursue political office. The young leader was recently introduced to former Vice President Joe Biden by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Xavier has earned just as much praise for his character as he has for his academic and extracurricular achievements. AP Language Teacher Matthew Patterson says that while he’s an incredible student, he’s an even better human being.
Q1: What are some of the things that you’ve been proud to accomplish during your high school career?
A1: I walked into Banneker having almost every reason to quit. I knew no one. Thanks to the supportive environment and community, I’ve since embarked on multiple endeavors that I am proud of. I am proud to have been able to start two real businesses with my friends while in high school thanks to the resources from the amazing 3DE program at BHS. I am proud to have made it to international competition as a member of my school’s DECA chapter. I am proud to have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout all my years in high school and to be graduating third in my class. I am proud to have served as the freshman and senior class president and to have helped change the narrative at Banneker High School.
Q2: How have you given back to your community?
A2: As a member of Banneker’s DECA chapter, I served as the director of a student-led project called the Clean Drain Initiative where we traveled around the South Fulton area to mark storm drains for cleaning in an effort to help prevent water pollution. I also serve as a member of the School Governance Council where I am able to bring the voice of every South Fulton teen to my school’s attention.
Q3: What are your plans after high school? What are your career aspirations?
I want to pursue a career as a corporate attorney or investment banker and help redefine what it means to be an African American male in the business world. I also want to pursue public service to help build a society and economy in which even students who come from adverse backgrounds like me can succeed. No matter what I do, I want to work here in Atlanta to give back to the city that has made me. I plan to major in economics in college.
Q4: Who has helped you the most along the way? How did they make a difference in your life?
A4: My teachers have helped me the most along the way. A gardener takes a small seed, plants it in the ground, and nurtures it. He keeps it free from weeds, provides water, and gives access to sunlight. And soon enough, that small seed turns into a flourishing plant. I came to Banneker as a small seed, timid, and underdeveloped. They challenged me to speak up and speak out. They pushed me to have an open mind. My teachers did everything they could to make sure I left high school with an unparalleled level of determination. Thanks to the effort exerted by my teachers, I can now call myself a flourishing scholar. My financial literacy teacher, Mrs. Moran led me to find my purpose within Banneker by pushing me outside of my shell and to be a changemaker within the school.
Q5: Based on your high school experience, what advice would you give to the members of the Class of 2021?
A5: You cannot control what time the bus comes every day, but you can control what time you get to the bus stop. There will be opportunities you encounter that you cannot predict coming, but if you stay prepared for every opportunity, no matter what time it comes, you’ll be ready for it. I woke up at 6 a.m. for 4 years straight and I have never missed the bus. I am also prepared to give a brief introduction to my life’s purpose in case I meet someone new so that I never miss an opportunity to create a connection. My advice to you is to simply be prepared for any opportunity that comes your way by going above and beyond in everything you do.