Williams High School has announced its Top 10 students for the Class of 2023, eight of whom received both their high school diploma and an International Baccalaureate diploma when Williams held its commencement exercises earlier this month.
Each of the Top 10 students at Williams High School say they are planning to go on to college. In addition to the five who’ve been accepted to the state’s flagship public university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one is headed to N.C. State University and one plans to attend Elon University. Three are planning to enroll at universities outside of North Carolina, including the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York; the University of Arkansas; and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Valedictorian Ella “Lou” Hooper, 18, who is the daughter of Betsy and David Hooper of Burlington, is planning to enroll at Carolina in August to study business, which she hopes will lead to a career in sustainable development.
Hooper recalls that her favorite class at Williams was Advanced Placement (AP) World History and her favorite experience was leading the student section in cheering on the Bulldogs at football games on Friday nights.
Her extracurricular activities included: serving as the vice president of philanthropy for the student council; as president of the Go Green Club and as president of the iCare Mental Health Awareness Club; as a member of the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society and National Honor Society; as well as working as a lifeguard, volunteer tennis coach, and swim lesson instructor. Hooper graduated as an AP Scholar with Distinction.
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Salutatorian Keriann Croy, 18, is the daughter of Jon and Bobbi Croy of Elon. Croy received both her high school diploma and International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma from Williams High School, currently the only Alamance-Burlington high school that’s certified to offer the advanced academic program.
This fall, Croy will be enrolling as a physics major at the Rochester Institute of Technology, for which she has received an RIT Presidential scholarship for $22,500 per year; an RIT Performing Arts scholarship for $1,500 per year; a National Honors Society scholarship ($3,500); and a scholarship for $1,000 through Studio 1, a community theater with a performing arts center in Burlington.
Croy says her favorite class at Williams was IB Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches and one of her most memorable experiences in high school was “being able to form a family” with other IB diploma candidates. Her extracurricular activities included: assisting with Studio 1 productions; serving as a dance teacher and choreographer for Studio 1; participating in National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, a national math honor society with a chapter at Williams; serving on the student council; volunteering with the Snow Camp Outdoor theater company; and attending the North Carolina Governor’s School.
“At RIT, I will be attending as an Academic Scholar in the Accelerated Bachelor/Master Program,” Croy tells The Alamance News. “I am enrolled to receive my [Bachelor’s of Science] in Physics and [a Master’s of Science] in Astrophysical Science and Technology.
The other Top 10 students in Williams High School’s Class of 2023 are, in alphabetical order:
Eleanor Arcaro-Burbridge, 18, who is the daughter of Amo Burbridge and Tom Arcaro of Burlington, also graduated from Williams earlier this month with her high school diploma and an IB Diploma.
Arcaro-Burbridge will head this fall to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to attend Dickinson College, for which she has received a tuition exchange scholarship worth $41,000 annually, for a total of $164,000 over all four years of college.
Like several of her fellow Top 10 students, Arcaro-Burbridge points to the “Theory of Knowledge,” part of the IB course of study, as her favorite class at Williams.
“My [most] memorable experience in high school was the Friday Night Lights Cross Country meet my junior year,” says Arcaro-Burbridge. “It was the first year I got to see the fireworks, and I remember laying in the grass watching them after running a varsity girls’ qualifying time.” In addition to running varsity cross country and track, Arcaro-Bridge was also active in musical theater and played piano during her time at Williams.
Kennedy Bethea, 18, is the daughter of Terrence and Julie Bethea of Burlington, earned her high school diploma, as well as an IB Diploma with an Academy of Finance certificate.
Bethea will be heading to Chapel Hill in August to attend Carolina, for which she has received a Light on the Hill scholarship ($1,000) and a Pete Stout scholarship ($1,000). She says her most memorable experience at Williams was making it to the fourth round of playoffs in varsity women’s soccer. In addition to playing on the varsity volleyball team and running varsity track and field, Bethea also served as Williams’ student body president, was active in the Bulldogs United club, the D.R.E.A.M. Team (a youth mentoring organization), Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and National Honor Society.
Lilly Clemmons, 18, the daughter of Chris and Laura Clemmons of Burlington, also earned an IB Diploma along with her high school diploma.
Clemmons plans to attend the University of Arkansas to study Apparel Merchandising, Product Development and Marketing. She has received a New Arkansan Merit Award Scholarship ($14,000 per year, for a total of $56,000 over all four years).
Clemmons highlights Stephanie Hecke – who teaches IB Math: Analysis and Approaches – as her favorite teacher at Williams, though she says her favorite class was Theory of Knowledge with Stuart Ringwalt and Erica Seeuwen. Her extracurricular activities included: running cross country all four years of high school; track for three years; serving on student council and Young Life for all four years of high school; and on the D.R.E.A.M. team, among others.
Clemmons also offered a special thank you to the staff and teachers in the IB program for shepherding her through the program, telling the newspaper that they “provided the support and encouragement needed in order to be successful.”
Skylar Foxworth, 17, who is the daughter of Judy Foxworth and Debbie Thorpe of Elon, also graduated with her high school diploma and an IB Diploma.
Foxworth is likely to see some familiar faces this fall, as she’s planning to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, where she plans to study neuroscience.
“My favorite class was Theory of Knowledge with Mr. Ringwalt,” Foxworth recalls of her time at Williams High School. “The class explores what knowledge truly is and how interpretations or biases can affect what we consider to be knowledge. Mr. Ringwalt formatted the class as a series of discussions, rather than lectures. This not only taught us discussion skills, but also acted as a firsthand example of the subjectivity of knowledge.”
Foxworth’s extracurricular activities included: her church youth group; Girl Scouts; bell choir; Key Club; Mu Alpha Theta; National Honor Society; and horseback riding.
“I’m so thankful to all of the IB teachers for their hard work and dedication to each and every student,” Foxworth tells the newspaper.
Molly Hunt, 18, is the daughter of Deandra Little and Jeremy Hunt of Burlington. Like many of her fellow Top 10 students at Williams, she also earned an IB Diploma along with her high school diploma.
Hunt is planning to attend Elon University, for which she has received multiple scholarships, to include: a Wynn Cherry Memorial Scholarship ($13,500 per year) through the Elon Honors Fellows program and an Elon University Presidential scholarship ($7,500 per year), among others.
Hunt says her favorite class at Williams was AP Calculus and her most memorable experience in high school was “being online my sophomore year, and doing Zoom school.” In addition to working at a restaurant, Hunt was also a member of the debate team, book club, handbell choir, and volunteered in the media center at Williams.
Moe Ko, 18, who is the son of Mya Thin of Elon, will head to Raleigh in August to study Computer Science at North Carolina State University.
Like Hunt, Ko says his favorite class at Williams was AP Calculus and doing school online during the statewide, yearlong school shutdown at the height of the Covid-19 global pandemic. “A lot of people hated it but I really enjoyed it,” the former president of the national math honor society (Mu Alpha Theta) at Williams recalls for the newspaper.
Ella Kate Porfilio, 18, the daughter of Dr. William Porfilio and Cynthia Connelly Porfilio of Burlington, also graduated with her high school diploma and an IB Diploma earlier this month. Porfilio is also planning to head to Chapel Hill in August to attend the state’s flagship university.
“My favorite high school memory is running the track after beating Western in football,” Porfilio says, adding that, like her Top 10 peers Hunt and Ko, her favorite class at Williams was AP Calculus with Lydia Allen.
Porfilio’s extracurricular activities at Williams included: serving as captain of the women’s varsity tennis team; serving on the D.R.E.A.M. Team; tutoring her peers through through Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society); and working on a statistics research project through Elon University.
In addition to being named an AP Scholar, Porfilio has received numerous athletic awards, which include: a Women’s Tennis MVP Coaches Award; 3A Women’s Tennis All-Conference; and Academic All-Conference.
Aashna Wadhwani, 17, is the daughter of Mala and Rajesh Wadhwani of Elon. She graduated from Williams with her high school diploma and IB Diploma.
Wadhwani will be joining four of her fellow Top 10 students from Williams in August when she heads to Chapel Hill to study business and finance at Carolina.
She tells the newspaper that her favorite experience at Williams was cheering on the Bulldogs at football games and dressing up with her friends for the “student section themes.”
In addition to being named an AP Scholar, Wadhwani was a competitive dancer on the Senior Clogging Competition Team at Amber’s House of Dance; a math instructor at Mathnasium of Burlington; a youth leader for the Burlington Indian Association; and as a director for step-to-success.org, which is a volunteer tutoring network. She also served on the student council at Williams; participated in the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta national math honor society, and attended the Governor’s School for Mathematics.