Over the past four years, Buford High School student Kate Harkness has gone from just starting out in dance her freshman year to serving as team captain for both the varsity competition dance team and the varsity spirit dance team as a senior. She received the Buford Spirit Award for varsity competition dance in the 2021-2022 school year.  

“The dance program at Buford has been the most influential and rewarding activity for me these past few years,” Kate says. “I started dancing freshman year, which is later than most, so I had to learn and adapt certain techniques quickly.”

Kate took Intermediate II Dance her first year of high school before transitioning to Advanced Dance. She has performed in four annual dance concerts and three community holiday concerts. 

“The annual dance concert is my favorite event of the year,” she says, “and I am looking forward to performing in my last one this coming March!” 

Kate has also danced in two Young Choreographer’s Showcases, choreographing and dancing in a duet, “Head Above Water,” in the 2022 showcase. 

She credits Ashley Smith, Buford High School’s dance teacher, with her improvement in the area of dance. 

“Mrs. Smith has been an amazing role model and coach,” Kate says, “and she’s helped me improve so much over the course of my high school career.” 

In addition to dance, Kate is a cheerleader. 

“I grew up in a big family of mostly boys who all played football,” she says. “It was my biggest influence to join cheerleading at a young age, and I even got to cheer for two of my brothers, Will and Sam, at Tom Riden on Friday nights!” 

Kate was voted squad captain for the 2022-2023 varsity football cheerleading squad. Her cheerleading accomplishments include receiving the Spirit of Buford award for 2019-2020 in varsity competitive cheer; the Coach’s Challenger award for varsity football cheerleading for 2021-2022; and the Most Spirited award for 2020-2021 in varsity basketball cheerleading.

Kate rounds out Buford’s three areas of AAA Excellence — academics, athletics and the arts — with her academic achievements. She has a 4.0 GPA and has taken seven Advanced Placement courses. 

Kate also attends Bible study every morning from 6 to 6:45 a.m. before school, calling it “one of the brightest influences in my life.” 

After graduation, Kate plans to attend the University of Georgia, Auburn University or Brigham Young University, and she intends to major in chemical engineering on her way to becoming a pharmaceutical engineer. 

“Chemistry took my interest sophomore year,” she says, “and I am excited to study it in the near future!” 

As for how she would like to be remembered as a student, Kate says, “I want to be remembered as someone who was a positive influence, hard worker, and loved everything about Buford!” 

Kate is the daughter of Danielle and Steve Harkness of Buford. She has four brothers, Jake, 23, Zane, 20, and Will, 19, all students at Brigham Young University, and Sam, 16, a student at Buford High School. 

The Buford City Schools Student Spotlight is made possible by the generosity of the City of Buford.

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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