The school, a health science and engineering magnet, attracts students for its dynamic curriculum.
The profile of its six sports teams can sometimes get lost because it doesn't field football, basketball or baseball teams. But sporting activities enjoyed one of their finest moments Wednesday.
Under a banner etched with their school's name and slogan (Make It Count!) and near a cake with a congratulatory message spelled out in icing, Dewayne Dixon and Jazmine Scott traced their names across pieces of papers that awarded them college tennis scholarships.
They are believed to be the first students at the school to receive athletic scholarships, said coach Steve Roper, a 1987 A.R. Johnson graduate who has coached tennis for the past five seasons.
"It is the first time we've had a signing (ceremony) here," he said.
Dixon, who will attend Still-man College, has played tennis for only two years.
He played one of the more memorable matches in the city this past April: a three-set marathon loss to Aquinas' Colin O'Quinn for the regional team title. They played for more than three hours.
Scott, who will attend Tuske-gee University, has played since she was 6, when she enjoyed watching her godmother, Cynthia Elliott, smack the ball over the net. A four-year player at A.R. Johnson, she went 30-0 in regional competition.
"I guess you can say I was a natural," she said, laughing.
Dixon and Scott bloomed under Michael Harden at MACH Academy at Fleming Tennis Center. Harden said about 20 players at MACH have received college scholarships in the academy's 16 years.
"This is the ultimate goal," Harden said.
A high school since 1980, A.R. Johnson competes in track, tennis, volleyball, cross country, soccer and golf.
Roper said he wanted to renew the tennis programs when he returned to the school five years ago.
"It gives them something to help balance their academics," he said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.