Eastern High School’s Class of 2021 graduated two weeks ago with their high school diplomas and thousands of dollars in scholarship awards to attend college this fall.
Most of the Top 10 students in Eastern High School’s Class of 2021 have been inducted into scholastic honor societies – such as the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, and Math Honor Society – while also serving on the student council and playing varsity sports for the Eagles.
Most of the 10 highest-ranking students in Eastern High School’s Class of 2021 have managed to juggle rigorous course work, part-time jobs, and community service, whether by mentoring younger children –through the Daring to Role Model Excellence as Athletic Mentors (D.R.E.A.M. Team), a school-sponsored organization that is offered at all six Alamance-Burlington high schools – or by helping with community service projects for well-known nonprofits such as UNICEF.
About half of the 10 highest-achieving students in Eastern High School’s Class of 2021 list Ryan Byrd – who teaches Advanced Placement Calculus and AP Statistics – as their favorite high school teacher. Another favorite among this year’s Top 10 students at Eastern High School was Yalitza Soba, who just completed her eighth year of teaching Spanish at Eastern High School.
The names of the Top 10 seniors in Eastern High School’s Class of 2021 are listed below, in alphabetical order.
Elaine Fisher, 18, of Mebane, is the niece of Tim and Susie Moore, who are her legal guardians. She will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall on a Wesley Laws Scholarship from the United Methodist Church and a scholarship through the Carolina Covenant, which the university describes as a program that provides up to the full costs to attend UNC, enabling students to graduate debt-free.
During her time at Eastern High School, Fisher has participated in the National Honor Society; the Math and Science national honor societies; Dance Honors Society; student council; Key Club; the D.R.E.A.M Team; and has worked at Starbucks. “My most memorable high school experience,” Fisher says, “was being part of the dance team and performing at football games every Friday night and [developing] a special bond with those who shared a passion for dance and school spirit.
“I am more than grateful for the opportunities I have been given to succeed throughout high school,” Fisher adds, “and I am ecstatic for what the future holds for me at Chapel Hill and beyond.”
Valedictorian headed to Princeton this fall
Class valedictorian Lillian Fitzgerald, 18, is the daughter of Elvin and Jesica Fitzgerald of Mebane. Her mother was the 2019 Teacher of the Year for ABSS; a 20-year veteran educator, Jessica Fitzgerald currently teaches English Language Arts at Woodlawn Middle School.
This fall, Fitzgerald will head to Princeton University to study ecology and evolutionary biology. She has received a James E. Casey Scholarship and Theresa Hooks Memorial Scholarship. The Casey scholarship is named for the founder of the American Messenger Company, predecessor to United Parcel Service, and is reserved for children of UPS employees, according to the foundation that oversees the financial awards.
The second scholarship was established in honor of former Mebane resident Theresa Hooks, who passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer and was the wife of then-Mebane city councilman Ed Hooks, now the city’s mayor.
Theresa Hooks was a software programmer for IBM for 30 years and a strong advocate for ensuring access, according to the scholarship’s website. The annual $2,500 scholarship – established in 2018 to ensure future generations’ access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education – the Theresa Hooks Memorial STEM scholarship is offered each year to one graduating senior at Eastern High School who intends to study a STEM field at a four-year university.
During her time at Eastern High School, Fitzgerald was a member of the National Honor Society; Key Club; Mu Alpha Theta (National Math Honor Society); student council; and the high school’s debate team.
Among the valedictorian’s most memorable high school experiences was when she and her members of the debate team took second place in the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl competition in March 2019, Fitzgerald told The Alamance News. (The high school’s debate team went on to compete in the national Summer High School Ethics Bowl Invitational at DePauw University in Indiana in June 2019, according to ABSS.)
Fitzgerald has also played soccer for the Mebane Youth Soccer Association and participated in the Young Women’s program at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Mebane.
Chase Fleisher, 18, is the daughter of Matt Fleisher and Melissa Moricle of Mebane. Fleisher will head to Raleigh in the fall to study business in the Poole School of Management at North Carolina State University. During her four years at Eastern,
Fleisher participated in Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club, the dance team, swim team, student council, and the Dream Team. “The most fun part of high was school was Friday night lights,” Fleisher remarks, referring to the Eagles football games.
Salutatorian helped carry Eagles to state softball championship in 2020
The salutatorian for her graduating class, Gabriella (“Ella”) Lee, 18, is the daughter of Shawn and Ashley Lee of Mebane. Lee has received two full scholarships – a National Merit Commended Honors scholarship and a scholarship covering full tuition for salutatorians – to attend Liberty University, where she plans to major in accounting and minor in Biblical Studies. She credits her family with giving her the resources and support to make it possible for her to reach the highest levels of academic achievement while in high school.
Lee’s extracurricular activities at Eastern High school have included: National Honor Society; Math Honor Society; student council; Key Club; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Girls of Faith; Interact club; and playing centerfield for the Eagles’ softball team. Lee says her most memorable experience in high school came in 2020 – a year that might’ve otherwise been defined solely by the statewide school shutdown due to Covid-19 – when the Eagles’ softball team won the North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSSA) division 3A state championship title last July.
Jason Moore, 18, is the son of Randy and Karen Moore of Mebane. Moore will head to Boone this fall to attend Appalachian State University, where he plans to study computer science. He has participated in the debate team at Eastern High School, though he points to the days just before the statewide school shutdown in March 2020 as one of his most formative experiences in high school.
“[On Friday, March 13] the last day of school before closing due to the pandemic, after school we had rehearsal for our musical, which would’ve been scheduled for April,” Moore recalls. “On that last day we performed some of the songs from the musical. It was a very emotional day, and I miss that group of people and that production.”
Miranda Richmond, 17, is the daughter of Jason and Sierra Richmond of Mebane. Though she was offered scholarships to attend a number of prestigious universities, Richmond plans to take a year off before heading to Boone to attend Appalachian State University on an Appalachian Excellence Scholarship.
As an Eastern High School student, Richmond participated in National Honor Society; Mu Alpha Theta; the DECA Club (which provides students with hands-on experience in finance, marketing, and hospitality); Interact Club; UNICEF; and has also volunteered at Hillsborough Elementary School, which is part of the Orange County school system.
“My favorite classes include Spanish class with Ms. [Yalitza] Soba,” Richmond recalls of her four years at Eastern High School. “She is a remarkable teacher and has greatly impacted my life by being not only a fantastic and valuable teacher but also being a friend and a wonderful person overall. My most memorable experience during high school – other than the impacts of COVID-19 – would be our senior prank night. It was just a fun night where we got together and celebrated how we were about to graduate.”
Katherine Dixon Riley, 18, is the daughter of Dave and Stephanie Riley of Mebane. She plans to enroll this fall at N.C. State University, where she plans to study business and pursue a Master’s of Business Administration degree. “My work ethic and desire to achieve were the two biggest attributes that allowed me to reach my goal during my high school years,” Riley tells The Alamance News.
As an Eastern High School student, Riley has served as student body president for the 2020-21 school year and as vice president of community service for the DECA club, in addition to participating in the National Honor Society; Mu Alpha Theta; and playing varsity soccer for the Lady Eagles for the past two years. Each fall’s homecoming season – everything from Spirit Week to the Homecoming football game and dance – are some of her fondest memories in high school, Riley says.
Eagles standout signs to play football for Washington & Lee University
Jackson Stokes, 18, is the son of Patrick and Emily Stokes of Mebane. A rising freshman who has committed to play football for the Generals at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia this fall, Stokes has a longer list of accomplishments than many people of a far more advanced age.
Throughout most of his four years at Eastern High School, Stokes has participated in: National Honor Society, including serving as an officer; Mu Alpha Theta; Interact Club; D.R.E.A.M. Team; as president of “Helton’s Helpers,” a program based at Eastern High School to provide supplies for elementary schools; Key Club; student council; and the Eastern Alamance Leadership Bootcamp. He has also played on Eastern High School’s varsity football team; was captain of the Eagles’ varsity swim and lacrosse teams, for both of which he served as captain; volunteered with Special Olympics; and served as a head coach for the Mebane Arts and Recreation department’s football camp.
Stokes has been selected to receive the Corrigan Faircloth National Football Scholarship, which is named for Bradley Faircloth, a former commissioner for the National Football Foundation and a supervisor of football officials for the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to information from ABSS. (Washington & Lee University is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, according to the university.)
Stokes has also been awarded eight other college scholarships, including: an American Legion scholarship; Rick Palmer Memorial Scholarship; N.C. Coaches Association Scholarship; Sons of the American Revolution scholarship; the Stephen Coffey Memorial Scholarship; and three other memorial scholarships, based on information he provided to The Alamance News.
Stokes says his most memorable experience at Eastern High School was winning his first varsity football game, when he was a sophomore. He credits the endless love and support he has received throughout his life – at home, school, and in the Mebane community – with helping him to excel in sports and at athletics.
Alexandria Washburne, 18, is the daughter of Michael and Christy Washburne of Mebane. Washburne plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall to study biology, in hopes of becoming a pediatrician. During her time at Eastern High School, Washburne has participated in nearly half a dozen academic organizations: National Honor Society; Science Honor Society; Mu Alpha Theta (the National Math Honor Society); the National Foreign Language Honor Society; and the National Society of High School Scholars.
Washburne has also served on Eastern High School’s student council and participated in the Interact Club and Future Career and Community Leaders of America at Eastern High School. Her most memorable high school experience was helping with “Packathon,” in which Eastern High School’s Interact Club packed meals for disaster relief, Washburne says. She has also worked for the past two years as a barista at Starbucks and was recently promoted to shift supervisor.
The six ABSS high schools held their commencement exercises on Friday, June 4.
Cullen Justice, also ranked among the Top 10 students in the Class of 2021 at Eastern High School, did not respond to any of the questions submitted by The Alamance News.