I am grateful for the Indian Nation this Thanksgiving. No, pilgrim, not those “indians.” I’m talking about the Cross Keys High School Indians.

Brookhaven and CKHS grew up together in the 1950s. Like most childhood friends, they have many stories to share. Some of the land now known as Brookhaven was once more commonly known to many as Old Cross Keys. Our Brookhaven predecessors proudly named their public high school to honor their history.

What Sembler Co. recently changed to Town Boulevard was formerly known as “Cross Keys Drive.” Some of my neighbors watched Cross Keys High School being built in the ‘50s. I have met and gotten to know alumni from every decade of the school’s 50-plus year history. But more than its history, it is the present reality at CKHS that inspires my support and gratitude.

In 2008, only one DeKalb high school and all of its feeders together made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). Just one. Not Chamblee, not Lakeside, it was Cross Keys High School. This year, we missed repeating this unique accomplishment by only five individual test scores.

In 2009, our well-respected neighbors at Chamblee Charter High School passed the Georgia High School Graduation Math Test at a rate of 95.5 percent. At Lakeside, it was 95.2 percent. At Tucker, it was 90.2 percent. At Cross Keys, our young people passed the same test at a rate of 93.5 percent.

In September, our community honored 2009 alumnus, Abu Bangura, by dedicating his jersey at the Dresden/Peachtree Waffle House. Mr. Bangura immigrated here at the age of 12 from Sierra Leone as a refugee. He excelled at Cross Keys on the soccer field, in the classroom and as a member of the chorus to earn a full college scholarship.

After being congratulated by the community, Mr. Bangura said to students, “America is the land of opportunity. Keep trying hard. Look past the problems and success will come your way.”

Once his soccer season is finished at Piedmont College, Mr. Bangura will help mentor the young soccer athletes at Cross Keys.

Not impressed by my Indians yet?

We have Goizueta Foundation winners, Gates Millenium Foundation winners, Navy ROTC scholars and many on scholarships at Furman, Agnes Scott, Georgia Tech and other respected institutions of higher learning.

Just this month, junior Leonel Ayala (3.2 GPA), brought the Georgia State Cross Country Championship trophy to Cross Keys for the first time since 1967. The achievement and unique diversity of our students is beginning to garner local, regional, and even national attention which is helping the school earn grants in technology, media, and other areas.

In contrast to the quality of our young people, the facility is far from being premier. It has been more than 30 years since this school has had any significant renovations.

At long last, DeKalb County Schools is making Cross Keys a priority for investment. While there are many good things coming to CKHS under the current SPLOST III project, there are far too many important items that will be left out of scope.

As a result of this gap, supporters will need to organize and advocate to see the job is finished and that CKHS students get much needed community support in the future.

The following individuals have recognized this need and have joined me in organizing Cross Keys Foundation: Aparna Bhattacharyya, Jennifer Mayer, Julia Russo, Julie Colon Koriakin, Karen Kropp, Ray Ortega, and Terri Barnard. Please consider supporting our efforts or volunteering your time at www.CrossKeysFoundation.org.

Around 400 years ago, immigrants came to these lands seeking opportunity and freedom. Today, I am happy to report that they still are finding both at Cross Keys High School. Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and yours from the Home of the Indians.

Kim Gokce is a member of the Cross Keys High School Council, Cross Keys Foundation, HillsDale Neighborhood Association and Brookhaven Community Connection.