New Albany High School's class of 2021, including valedictorian Aditya Akula, slated to graduate June 5

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Aditya Akula, 18, is New Albany High School's class of 2021 valedictorian. He is pictured on the school's campus May 20. Graduation ceremonies are planned June 5.

Aditya Akula is – and isn’t – surprised by being named valedictorian of the class of 2021 at New Albany High School.

“I think it’s more a function of how deep you’re willing to go,” said Akula, who will be giving the valedictorian address at graduation, scheduled June 5 at Huntington Park in Columbus' Arena District.

Gates open at 9 a.m. and the ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. A rain date is slated for the following day.

Akula, who has a 4.5 grade-point average, will join more than 400 of his classmates in receiving diplomas.

It’s a far cry from last year’s graduation, which was altered because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony involved students receiving their sheepskins in a drive-thru ceremony.

Patrick Gallaway, spokesman for the New Albany-Plain Local School District, said the ceremony will be livestreamed on the facility’s jumbotron. Masks will not be required.

Akula, 18, said he plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology, more commonly known as Georgia Tech, and study computer science.

Throughout high school, he participated in athletics, worked in the school’s technology department, was on the robotics team, competed in the Science Olympiad, was a National Merit scholarship Program finalist and was on the high school's “In the Know” team for a televised program in which students from local high schools match wits.

“I was pretty competitive in classes,” said Akula, the son of Naga and Jay Akula. “I’m pretty competitive in general.”

Principal Ken Kraemer said Akula set an impressive pace

“Aditya is an outstanding student,” Kraemer said. “He kind of represents all the good things about our high school.

“He did so well, and a lot of our students can look up to him as a model of New Albany High School.”

Kraemer said it was a roller coaster year since COVID-19 restrictions were put into place, resulting in remote learning, a hybrid model in which students returned to school on certain days and learned remotely on others and, in the final months of the year, a full return to classrooms.

Still, 24% decided to stay on the remote-learning model, Kraemer said.

“It was a year that this class, the class of 2021, had to be resilient,” Kraemer said. “And they really, really were. They missed out on a lot of activities that occur in your junior and senior year.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary