The Holy Spirit Preparatory School senior just completed one remarkable chapter of life and is embarking on another.
“I’m kind of excited; I’m ready for it,” said Cook, who graduated Tuesday and is headed to the University of Maryland in the fall.
“High school was fun, but I’ve got to move on to bigger and better things,” the Jonesboro resident added. “Everybody’s always telling me how hard college is … I like challenges, especially academic ones.”
Cook’s reputation both in and out of the classroom at Holy Spirit Prep precedes him.
“He’s our Gates Millennium winner,” said school spokeswoman Roberta Meadows. “Additionally, he’s a good student, as [evidenced] by his 3.53 GPA … he’s overcome medical setbacks, and is quite hilarious, too.”
An active member of the school’s art club, Cook has further distinguished himself through service to others — tutoring grade school children via the Hands on Atlanta program at Parklane Elementary School in south Fulton County and the Solidarity School in Sandy Springs.
The jovial 17-year-old, whose baby face sits atop an imposing 6-foot-2 frame, has quite a bit to reflect on — both tragic and uplifting — should he so choose.
His police officer father, Carnel, died in the line of duty when Cook was only 4.
“I just remember random things [about him],” Cook said. “I remember him entering the house after work and hugs. … A couple times he took me to work.”
The void left by the elder Cook’s passing has been filled to a certain degree by the fathers in the teenager’s neighborhood.
But, Cook — and virtually everyone else — credits his mother, Dawn, for being the singular force that has kept him on track throughout the years, just like his two older sisters before him.
“She’s stern; she’s like an enforcer,” Cook said of Dawn. “If you’re not doing well in school, she’ll let you know.”
The mother’s methods have, by all accounts, paid off.
Cook plans to study kinesiology in college — the first step toward a career in sports medicine.
Still, things weren’t as promising this time last year.
Cook was besieged by a series of migraines as a junior. Sensitivity to light and loud noises, an inability to focus and drowsiness were the symptoms — all contributing to the resulting slippage in his grades.
Yet, as with the other moments of adversity he’s been faced with, Cook was able to recover and overcome.
“I know what I need to do,” he said. “If I ever forget, my mom doesn’t mind at all reminding me.”