Monday, June 17, 2024

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Class of 2024 Valedictorians and Salutatorians have high aspirations for life after high school

Alamance-Burlington school officials have announced the names of the valedictorians and salutatorians in the class of 2024 for each of the seven traditional ABSS high schools.

Each high school’s graduating class will recognize its valedictorian and salutatorian during their graduation exercises, which begin today and run through Saturday evening (see related story, this edition).


Valedictorians and Salutatorians named, but no more “Top 10” Seniors.  See story here: https://alamancenews.com/class-of-2024-first-in-abss-eligible-to-receive-latin-honors-no-more-top-ten-seniors/


 

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Of the 12 students featured, four have simultaneously earned an Associate of Arts degree from Alamance Community College, while also completing the requirements for graduation from high school.  [Two students, the salutatorian at Graham High School and the valedictorian at Williams High School, had not responded to multiple inquiries from The Alamance News through the ABSS administration by press time Wednesday night.  Their high school principals provided their names and photographs to the newspaper.]

The six valedictorians and six salutatorians say they plan to go on to college this fall, for which most have amassed thousands of dollars in scholarships to offset the cost of college.  Six plan to attend North Carolina’s flagship university in Chapel Hill, and two plan to attend Duke University in Durham.  The remaining four top-ranking seniors are headed to Elon University, N.C. State, Wake Forest University, and the University of Texas.

The names of the valedictorian and salutatorian for each traditional high school’s graduating class are listed below, in alphabetical order by school, along with a biographical summary and their recollections of what they remember most about high school.

CUMMINGS HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian Taylor Simone Grant is the daughter of Richard Grant of Burlington.  She is planning to attend college at the University of Texas at Arlington, for which she has received multiple scholarships, including: Burger King Scholars Award ($1,000); Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority/Pi Omicron Omega Chapter of Burlington ($1,000); University of Texas at Arlington Maverick Academic scholarship ($8,000 per year); and a University of Texas Distinguished Freshman scholarship ($2,000).

“My favorite class in high school was AP Calculus, because out of all of my classes, I felt the most challenged with the intensity and amount of classwork that I was given,” Grant tells The Alamance News. “My favorite teacher would be [social studies teacher Anhkhoa] Nguyen. I don’t feel as if I would have accomplished much academically if he didn’t encourage me.”

Grant says attending her senior prom was her most memorable experience at Cummings, adding, “I had an amazing time with my friends.”

The valedictorian says her extracurricular activities at Cummings have included participating in the National Honor Society and tutoring ABSS middle school students.

Salutatorian Jimmy Barrera Mancilla is the son of Blanca Mancilla of Burlington.  He plans to enroll this fall at Elon University to study mechanical engineering, for which he has received a $100,000 Odyssey scholarship.

“My favorite class was Economics and Personal Finance because I enjoyed having an open discussion everyday about new topics that applied to a variety of subjects,” Mancilla recalls.  “My most memorable experience was the bus trip to our playoffs game during the soccer season.”

The salutatorian’s extracurricular activities at Cummings have included participating in the National Honor Society and student government, as well as playing on the boys’ soccer team for the Cavaliers.

 

EASTERN HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian Quincie Clovenie Loy is the daughter of Stephen and Quinn Loy of Mebane.  In addition to her high school diploma, Loy simultaneously earned an Associate of Arts degree from Alamance Community College.

Loy is planning to enroll this fall at Wake Forest University for which she has received a Steven C. Walker scholarship for $1,000 and a George F. Hankins scholarship for $5,500.

“My favorite class in high school was sociology with [John] Neathery at ACC during both my junior and senior years,” Loy tells The Alamance News. “Mr. Neathery was not just a teacher; he became a mentor. Unlike many educators, he truly saw and heard each student, including me. His ability to recognize and foster my potential left a lasting impact on me.  [His] teaching style was exceptional – he actively involved students and made learning hands-on, which made the subject matter come alive. I am incredibly thankful for the [Career & College Promise, CCP] program that made it possible for me to take his classes at ACC. Mr. Neathery’s influence is something I will carry with me forever, and I will never forget the lessons he taught me, both inside and outside the classroom.”

Loy recalls that her most memorable experience in high school was receiving the North Carolina Academic Excellence Award, through the CCP program at ACC that allows high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit, free of charge, while also completing their requirements for graduation from high school.

“I was the youngest recipient and the first CCP student to achieve this honor,” Loy elaborates.  “This award recognized me out of all the students at ACC – a significant number – to represent the college for academic excellence. It is sponsored by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS). Being chosen for this prestigious award was a moment of immense pride and validation of my hard work and dedication.”

Loy was also involved in myriad extracurricular activities that included: volunteering at the Burlington animal shelter; working as a lifeguard; and participating in Girl Scouts, student council, Student Government Association (at ACC), National Honor Society, Sigma Psi Club (president), North Carolina Governor’s School, church youth group, and Eastern’s girls’ swimming and golf teams (including as captain), among numerous other activities.   In addition, Loy says she is a published author.

“One notable achievement that sets me apart is my perfect attendance record from kindergarten through 12th grade,” Loy tells The Alamance News. “This demonstrates my dedication, commitment, and resilience over the years, showcasing my ability to consistently show up and perform…These accomplishments reflect my unwavering determination and exceptional ability to balance a rigorous academic schedule with numerous extracurricular activities.”

According to Loy, high achievement runs in her family.  “Prior to me graduating,” she says, “my brother also graduated as valedictorian, [with a perfect attendance record in] K-12th grade, and he went to Wake Forest University where I will be attending next year.”

Salutatorian Bridget Mary Galicia is the daughter of Andrea Galicia of Mebane.  She is planning to enroll this fall at North Carolina State University, for which she has received a Goodnight Scholarship of $23,000 per year for all four years from the university.

Galicia says her favorite class in high school was Advanced Placement English III “because it challenged me to analyze texts deeply, and it allowed me to become a better writer, speaker, and thinker…and provided me with a space where I felt heard.”

Galicia recalls that her most memorable experience in high school was when she and her friends produced and performed a parody of Macbeth, which they titled MacBridget.  “It was surreal when we did actually perform it on a stage in front of a lot of people,” Galicia says.  “This was such a great memory to have with my friends because we will never forget how this small, silly idea turned into a real play.”

Galicia’s extracurricular activities have included: serving on the superintendent’s student advisory board and as student body vice president; participating in National Honor Society, the Science Olympiad team, and Envirothon team; and serving as co-captain of Eastern’s varsity cheerleading team, and as an ambassador in a leadership academy sponsored by Chick-fil-A.

“I attended the North Carolina Governor’s School for mathematics, and I am a recipient of the Superintendent’s Award of Excellence,” the salutatorian says, adding that she has also been accepted into the honors program at N.C. State.

GRAHAM HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian Chloe Gabrielle Grandsire is the daughter of Nathalie Grandsire of Mebane.   In addition to her high school diploma, Grandsire also earned an Associate of Arts degree from ACC.  She is planning to attend Duke University, for which she has received a full scholarship of approximately $87,000 per year.

Grandsire says her favorite teacher at Graham High School was Karen Carotta, who the valedictorian describes as “super-passionate and loves to teach” and whose class in Advanced Placement U.S. History was her favorite “because it had great people and fun projects.”

Among the things she will remember fondly about high school are “eating lunch with my friends and

having fun conversations in [my] Economics and Personal Finance [class],” Grandsire tells the newspaper.  The valedictorian says she was a student in the Elon Academy, a program geared toward high-achieving, first-generation students from Alamance County, and participated in the book club at Graham High School.  “I’m proudly French-American,” Grandsire adds, “and raised by a fantastic single mom.”

Salutatorian Christopher Evans did not respond.

 

SOUTHEAST ALAMANCE HIGH SCHOOL

Chase McGraner  has been selected as the valedictorian for the inaugural graduating class for Southeast, which is the county’s seventh traditional high school and opened in August 2023.

McGraner is the son of Mark and Amy McGraner of Swepsonville.  He will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for which he has received an annual Blue Sky scholarship for $7,500 for up to four years.

McGraner tells the newspaper that his favorite class at Southeast was English IV Honors and touts the fact that he balanced his commitment to high academic achievement with holding down a job throughout the last 2½ years of high school.

Youssef  Gabriel Mostafa has been named as the salutatorian for the first graduating class at Southeast.

Mostafa is the son of Sarah and Daniel Ely of Mebane.  In addition to his high school diploma, Mostafa has also earned food safety certification (ServSafe).  After high school, he says he plans to enroll at Alamance Community College and then transfer to Carolina to major in biology.

Mostafa says his favorite class at Southeast was Food and Nutrition, which he found a fulfilling opportunity to help special needs kids, and because his teacher was supportive and genuinely cared about the students.

His most memorable experience in high school, Mostafa recalls, was getting to befriend Aidan Ramos and Brandyn Theus – two students from Southeast who were killed in a car crash in Orange County earlier this year – “and learning that life is short and nothing is promised.”

Outside the classroom, Mostafa was on the track and field, cross-country, and soccer teams; volunteered as a tutor and with a nonprofit, Feeding Hungry Minds; served on the yearbook staff; and belonged to the National Honor Society and Latinx club at Southeast.  “I qualified for states,” he adds, “in both indoor and outdoor track in the 1600, the 800, and the 4×400.”

 

SOUTHERN HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian Addison Sutton is the daughter of Elizabeth and Brad Sutton of Graham.  In addition to her high school diploma, Sutton simultaneously earned an Associate of Arts degree from ACC, as well as food safety certification (ServSafe).

Sutton is planning to enroll this fall at Carolina, for which she has received a $10,000 scholarship through the State Employees’ Credit Union.

“My favorite class in high school was Leadership because it gave me the chance to collaborate with other Student Council members to implement events and activities for the whole school to enjoy,” and her favorite experience was attending football games on Friday nights, Sutton tells the newspaper.

In addition to serving on the student council, Sutton’s extracurricular activities at Southern included: National Honor Society; Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America club [FCCLA]; Link crew; and playing volleyball for the Patriots.

Salutatorian Alaina Joy McBride is the daughter of Ben McBride of Graham.  Like Southern’s valedictorian, the salutatorian also earned an Associate of Arts degree from ACC while simultaneously completing the requirements for her graduation from high school.

McBride is planning to attend Duke University, for which she has received a total of $89,474 in scholarship and grants per year.

The salutatorian says her Spanish teacher made learning another language extremely fun, made her students laugh, and “embraced challenges with a positive attitude” that left a lasting impact.

“I had many memorable moments throughout high school but the ones that stood out to me most were the many football games I attended,” McBride says.  “Regardless of whether it was freezing cold or extremely hot, I never failed to have a good time. I screamed football terminology I had no clue about, and ate lots of popcorn. The themes of each game made the experience even more exciting. Whether I was dressed in all pink or a cowgirl outfit, the experiences were one that I would never trade.”

McBride’s extracurricular activities at Southern included: Link Crew; student council; National Honors Society; participating on the veterinary science team for the Future Farmers of America club; Younglife; and playing junior varsity volleyball during her freshman and sophomore years of high school.

 

WESTERN HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian Katelyn Abigail Williams, the daughter of Melissa and Darnell Williams, III of Burlington, plans to attend Carolina and following the Pre-med track.

Williams says her favorite class in high school was Advanced Placement AP Government, elaborating, “The way the class was set up was interesting and collaborative.”  She says her favorite teacher was Brandi Mathias, who she had for Biology, because Ms. Mathias “always checked on how students were  doing personally, outside of school work.”

Williams says her most memorable moment in high school was when the boys’ soccer team won the state championship.  “The whole school came together in support,” the valedictorian recalls.  “And the atmosphere during this time was great.”

Her extracurricular activities included participating in Warrior Buddies, a club at Western designed to foster positive friendships between students in general education and exceptional students; serving as co-president of Key Club, a student service organization; and Interact Club, another student service organization whose recent activities have included filling boxes for a “Feed the Hunger Pack-a-Thon” to send to Ukraine and Bangladesh earlier this year.

Salutatorian Lela Kate Baker is the daughter of Dana and Bryan Baker of Gibsonville. She also is planning to attend UNC, for which she has received a Ronald Allen Swift Memorial Scholarship for $4,000 and a Truliant Federal Credit Union Fred Sarda Scholarship for $1,500.

Baker says her favorite class at Western was AP Environmental Science, also taught by Brandi Mathias.

“She would make learning fun by giving us enjoyable group projects,” Baker explains.  “She was always there for us if we needed anything and provided her classroom as a safe space for anyone who needed it.”

Her most memorable experience was playing softball in the state championship during her junior year at Western, Baker recalls.  In addition to varsity softball, Baker also played varsity volleyball and participated in National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society; the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA); Interact Club; Warrior Buddies; and the Kids Helping Wish Kids Club, among other volunteer activities.

 

WILLIAMS HIGH SCHOOL

Salutatorian Samantha Joyce Fish is the daughter of Grant Fish of Burlington.  She will graduate with an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma (the culmination an advanced course of study in six core subject areas and rigorous exams) and as an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction.

Fish says she will enroll this fall at Carolina to major in math, for which she has received a scholarship of up to $23,500 per year.

“My favorite class in high school was AP Calculus with [Lydia] Allen,” Fish tells the newspaper.  “First of all, I love math and the course material in itself was interesting to learn both inside and outside of class. Secondly, Ms. Allen was passionate about the subject and had several traditions that made the class fun, like celebrating when we learned the First Fundamental Theorem of Calculus with a cake.  We did a very intensive review with several practice tests so that when the AP exam came, I was confident in my ability to get a 5 [the highest exam score possible].”

“My most memorable experience in high school was taking the AP Calculus practice exam, because it was essentially a party,” Fish continues.  “Everyone brought different types of food.  There was a large buffet table, and we celebrated before and after because our intensive month of review was finally closing.  The exam itself was taken in the same style as the official AP exam and solidified my confidence for the real one, which would be in a few weeks. However, the most memorable part was the atmosphere. While some people were nervous, everyone was relieved to have come this far and there was a feeling of [camaraderie] that can only be achieved through mutual suffering.”

In addition to intense focus on her studies, Fish’s extracurricular activities at Williams included serving as president of the Creative Writing club at Williams and participating in creative writing competitions, both at school and elsewhere.

“I [also] did research independently with [Elon University] professor Heather Barker into how social justice topics could be useful in teaching statistics using the Fatal Encounters Data Set and [data analytics] software,” Fish adds.   “I tutored students in math through Math Honors Society, Elon Academy, and [individually]; I volunteered at CityGate Dream Center’s after school program to help entertain, tutor, and watch over kids [and] as a summer camp leader for three different week-long summer camps for kids through CityGate Dream Center.”

“I’ve won several awards for my creative writing” the salutatorian at Williams High School tells the newspaper.   “In freshman year, I won 3rd place in the Burlington Writer’s Club short story competition. In junior year, I achieved 1st place in both the short story and poetry competitions from the Burlington Writer’s Club. I’ve been published through short stories in the Twisted Tales collection from Young Writers USA and the Hunted SOS Saga collection from Young Writers USA. I also had my poetry published through the America Library of Poetry collection during [my] junior year.”

Valedictorian Mary Grace Gabrielli did not respond.

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