Past metro area grads who grabbed the brass ring

The late S. Truett Cathy, who founded Chick-fil-A in 1946, graduated from Technological High School in 1940. AJC file photo/Johnny Crawford.

Combined ShapeCaption
The late S. Truett Cathy, who founded Chick-fil-A in 1946, graduated from Technological High School in 1940. AJC file photo/Johnny Crawford.

Julia Roberts, Cam Newton, Ciara among luminaries who graduated from local high schools.

Metro Atlanta high schools have had plenty to brag about over the years — including dozens of their graduates who have achieved success, even fame.

These graduates have done well whether the economy and job markets were booming or in the tank, whether gas prices were dirt cheap or sky high, and whether the world seemed largely at peace or in chaos.

It’s graduation season and a good time to remember a sampling of the area’s notable high school graduates.

Atlanta Public Schools

Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington High school, 1944: civil rights icon who graduated when he was 15. The Baptist minister and activist was the civil rights movement leader from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

S. Truett Cathy, Technological High School, 1940: founded Chick-fil-A, the hugely successful fast-food restaurant chain, in 1946.

Gladys Knight, Archer High School, 1960: seven-time Grammy Award winner who had hits over three decades with her group, The Pips.

Combined ShapeCaption
Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield, Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (right), and Rob Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, (left) admire a bronze statue in Holyfield's likeness at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield, Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (right), and Rob Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, (left) admire a bronze statue in Holyfield's likeness at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Combined ShapeCaption
Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield, Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (right), and Rob Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, (left) admire a bronze statue in Holyfield's likeness at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Evander Holyfield, Fulton High School, 1980: boxer who won the World Heavyweight Championship three times.

Jasmine Guy, Northside High School, 1979: actress, singer, dancer in movies, TV, and stage who starred in “The Cosby Show” spin-off, “A Different World.”

Barbara Cook, Girls High School, 1945: singer and actress who performed in more than a dozen Broadway shows and starred in several, including, “The Grass Harp,” “The Music Man” and “Candide.”

Kathy Waller, Douglass High School, 1976: the first Black and the first woman CFO of a Fortune 100 company (The Coca-Cola Company).

Cherokee County School District

Nick Markakis, Woodstock High School, 2001: played 15 seasons as a right fielder in Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.

J. Marshall Shepherd, Cherokee High School, 1987: leading international expert in weather and climate.

Chandler Riggs, Etowah High School, 2017: actor who played Carl Grimes on “The Walking Dead.”

Chris Kirk, Etowah High School, 2003: pro circuit golfer and four-time PGA Tour winner.

Josh Holloway, Cherokee High School, 1987: actor, model, and producer best known for his TV roles as James “Sawyer” Ford on “Lost” and Will Bowman on “Colony.”

Clayton County Public Schools

Ciara Princess Harris, Riverdale High School, 2003: R&B singer, songwriter, dancer, model and actress who goes by the single name, Ciara.

Steve Lundquist, Jonesboro High School, 1979: competitive swimmer who is an Olympic gold medalist and former world record-holder.

Hines Ward, Forest Park High School, 1994: Pittsburgh Steelers’ Pro-Bowl wide receiver, and an inductee in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Tashard Choice, Lovejoy High School, 2002: running back who spent six years in the NFL, including four with the Dallas Cowboys.

Cobb County Public Schools

Julia Roberts, Campbell High School, 1985: Academy Award winner, the owner of a production company, a philanthropist, and one of the highest-paid actresses in film.

Nick Ayers, South Cobb High School, 2000: political strategist and consultant who was chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

Billy Wilkins, South Cobb County High School, 1992: one of the original members of the band Third Day.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Wheeler High School, 2000: professional basketball player who was on the United States national basketball team that won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

DeKalb County Schools

Ray Stevens, Druid Hills High School, 1957: country and pop singer-songwriter and comedian best known for his Grammy-winning recordings, “Everything is Beautiful” and “Misty,” as well as his comedy successes, “Gitarzan” and “The Streak.”

Tim Chen, Chamblee Charter High School, 2000: CEO and co-founder of NerdWallet, a personal finance company that gives advice and features reviews on different financial products.

John Casper, Chamblee High School (now Chamblee Charter High School), 1961: NASA astronaut who flew on four spaceflights.

JaQuel Knight, Tucker High School, 2007: choreographer and dancer best known as the choreographer of Beyonce’s 2009 music video “Single Ladies.”

Combined ShapeCaption
"American Idol" Ryan Seacrest (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

"American Idol" Ryan Seacrest (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Combined ShapeCaption
"American Idol" Ryan Seacrest (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Ryan Seacrest, Dunwoody High School, 1992: TV host, producer, media mogul, and “American Idol” judge.

Forsyth County Public Schools

Kelli Giddish, Forsyth Central High School, 1998: actress most known for her role as Detective Amanda Rollins on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

William Gregory Magnussen, South Forsyth High School, 2003: actor nominated for a Tony Award for his role in 2013′s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” co-starring Sigourney Weaver.

Colby Gossett, North Forsyth High School, 2012: linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons.

Fulton County Public Schools

Kate Bedingfield, Riverwood International Charter School, 2000: communications director for the White House.

Cary Rickoff, Riverwood International Charter School, 2005: member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Ludacris, Banneker High School, 1995: Born Christopher Brian Bridges, he is a rapper and actor with an MTV Video Music Award and three Grammys.

Kenan Thompson, Tri-Cities High School, 1996: actor, comedian, and the longest-tenured cast member of Saturday Night Live

Combined ShapeCaption
Kenan Thompson plays an Atlanta morning show host in his NBC sitcom "Kenan." -- (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

Credit: NBC

Kenan Thompson plays an Atlanta morning show host in his NBC sitcom "Kenan." -- (Photo by:  Casey Durkin/NBC)

Credit: NBC

Combined ShapeCaption
Kenan Thompson plays an Atlanta morning show host in his NBC sitcom "Kenan." -- (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Cam Newton, Westside High School, 2007: winner of the Heisman Trophy at Auburn University and an NFL MVP for helping lead the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Joe Gebbia, Brookwood High School, 2000: billionaire co-founder of Airbnb, who last year set up an endowment for his alma mater’s arts program and made a $200,000 donation to its track program.

David Pollack, Shiloh High School, 2000: three-time All-American football player for the Georgia Bulldogs, an inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame and a college football analyst for ESPN.

Lou Williams, South Gwinnett High School, 2005: professional basketball player since 2005, signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2012 and again last year.

Maya Moore, Collins Hill High School, 2007: considered one of the greatest women’s basketball players, she was a four-time All-American in college and won two Olympic Gold Medals.

Douglas “Clay” Cook, South Gwinnett High School, 1996: songwriter, producer and guitarist with the Zac Brown Band.