Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

DPS Student Participates in 25th Annual Carson Scholars Award Ceremony
Luke Mederios school photo

Hammond Creek Middle student Luke Mederios was recently named a Carson Scholar during the 2021 Virtual Scholar Awards Ceremony presented by the Carson Scholars Fund.

The Carson Scholars Fund awards $1,000 college scholarships to students in grades 4-11 based on academic achievement and community service. Scholarship winners are named “Carson Scholars” and are awarded an Olympic-sized medal as well as a trophy.

To grow awareness for the program and generate excitement for the virtual ceremony, the Carson Scholars participated in a “spirit week” leading up to the event. Students across the country posted photos decked out in their spirit wear.

The ceremony featured talks from first-ever TIME magazine Kid of the Year and three-time Carson Scholar Gitanjali Rao; legendary football coach Lou Holtz; and Johns Hopkins Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson.

The foundation, founded in 1994 to address the education crisis in the United States by Dr. Carson, is known for encouraging academic success and inspiring students to serve in their communities and schools.

According to Luke, he likes the program because it helps motivate him to keep his grades up and get involved in the community. He says helping others helps him to be a better person, so it’s “win-win.”

“I think it’s really great for keeping someone in check for keeping their grades up and helping out their community,” Luke said. “It helps out other people, but it also helps them become a better person.”

Luke is the son of Matt Mederios and Joni Mederios. He became involved with the program in the 5th grade. After an extensive application process, Luke was selected as his school’s scholarship recipient.

“It’s a great way to honor students for their academic achievements as well as praise them for community service involvement,” Joni said. “Athletes are always getting recognized for their achievements in sports, so this is a great way to encourage and recognize students for their academic success.”

According to Joni, this opportunity was a “tremendous honor” and the recognition serves as a reminder for Luke to keep his grades up and to give back to his community.

“A student must be nominated by a school official in order to apply, so being asked to apply is a great honor,” Joni said. “I would encourage all students to do their best to keep their grades up, but even more importantly, to get involved in school clubs or community service projects. When we serve and give back to our community, it feels like a reward in itself.”

During the ceremony, the 2021 scholars were recognized and applauded for their creativity in finding ways to serve their communities and for making the most out of a challenging year.

“Moving to a new town, new state and new school in the middle of a pandemic, Luke got creative and started a virtual campaign to help others with one of our family favorite organizations, Operation Christmas Child (through Samaritan’s Purse),” Joni said. “So, you can find ways to help others, even if it’s in person, or a virtual/online campaign. Since then, Luke’s gotten more involved in his school and our new church. He will be reapplying as a current scholar for his third consecutive year.”
To request an application, contact an educator, guidance counselor or administrator at your school and suggest they request an application by contacting

For more information about the program, visit the Carson Scholars website at