[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories on top graduates from each ABSS high school. In the Thursday, June 16 print edition, an editing error resulted in no runover, or continuation of the story, with some of the top 10; the story will be re-run in its entirety in the June 23 edition. Meanwhile, here is the full story.]
The Top 10 students in the Class of 2022 at Southern High School had amassed a slate of academic honors and personal accomplishments by the time they flipped their tassels at Greensboro Coliseum Saturday night, and all of the students in the Top 10 are planning to continue their education at a four-year university in North Carolina starting this fall.
Sisters Hannah Graham and Sarah Graham – who are from Graham and were the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of their graduating class – are planning to enroll at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Besides the Graham sisters, three of the Top 10 students will head to Chapel Hill this fall to attend the state’s flagship public university; two others are headed to the state capital, to attend N.C. State University. Rounding out the Top 10 students in the Class of 2021 are: rising freshmen at Appalachian State University; Elon University; and High Point University.
Six of the Top 10 students in Southern High School’s Class of 2022 are athletes; four are members of the National Honor Society; and most have participated in civic and community organizations throughout high school.
Southern High School’s Top 10 graduates for the Class of 2022 are:
Class Valedictorian Hannah Graham, 18, is the daughter of Brant and Karen Graham of Graham. She has received five scholarships to attend UNCG: a Blue and Gold Scholarship for $5,400; a UNCG athletic scholarship for $3,000; a Sylvan Ruritan scholarship for $1,200; an Amy and Clyde Pike scholarship, $500; and an A & J Johansen scholarship, $500.
During her time at Southern High School, Hannah Graham has participated in: Belles and Sons; Young Life of Alamance County, a faith-based organization located in Burlington; the Fellowship of Christian Athletes(FCA); student council; and participated in numerous other extracurricular activities. She was also captain of the Cross Country team and competed on the varsity Indoor and Outdoor track team.
Hannah Graham was also a journalist for “GenZ Writes,” a student publication at Southern High School; and a member of the National Honor Society. She says her favorite class at Southern was Spanish I, and that one of her favorite things about high school was “getting coffee on Fridays during our free period” with her sister, Sarah, and their friends.
Salutatorian Sarah Graham, 18, is valedictorian Hannah Graham’s sister and the daughter of Brant and Karen Graham of Graham.
Like her sister, Sarah Graham also plans to enroll at UNCG this fall, for which she has received five scholarships (Blue and Gold, $5,400; Burlington Women’s Club, $1,000; Amy and Clyde Pike scholarship, $500; Sylvan Ruritan, $1,200; Tracy McPherson, $1,500).
Sarah Graham, a member of the National Honor Society, has held a number of leadership roles during her four years at Southern High School, including; serving on the student council; as vice president of the Junior Civitan club; president and devotional leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA); participated in YoungLife of Alamance County, a faith-based organization for youth; and as a curriculum creator for Interns4Good, among other extracurricular activities.
She has also been active in athletics, serving as varsity captain of the Cross Country team during the 2021-22 school year and as a member of the varsity Indoor and Outdoor Track teams. She has also worked during the summer as a lifeguard at the Graham pool.
Other Top Ten students are listed (alphabetically):
Emma Corbett, 18, is the daughter of Jarad and Kerrie Corbett of Burlington. She plans to enroll at Elon University this fall, for which he has received an Elon Honors Fellows scholarship for $13,500 and an Elon Presidential Scholarship for $7,500.
At Southern High School, the National Honors Society student has been active in the FCA, the drama club, Belles and Sons, and Link Crew, in addition to serving as the media manager for First United Methodist Church.
Corbett says one of her favorite memories from high school was going with her friends to watch the Patriots’ football team compete against Chapel Hill High School, her favorite classes were AP Literature & Composition, Biology, and AP Environmental Science.
Laurel Harp, 18, is the daughter of Jennifer Byrnes of Haw River. She plans to enroll at North Carolina State University this fall, for which she has received three scholarships: $3,900 in tuition assistance from N.C. State; $2,500 from the Alamance Community College Foundation; and a $400 scholarship for Academic Enhancement from N.C. State.
During her time at Southern, Harp has served as president of the Junior Civitan club and as co-president of FCA. Harp is also a member of the National Honor Society at Southern High School, the Link Crew, and the All-star cheerleading tem. She says Spanish 2 was her favorite class at Southern.
Outside of school, Harp has also held two part-time jobs as a lifeguard and waitress.
Evelyn Jacobs, 18, is the daughter of Jerry and Kim Jacobs of Graham. She plans to enroll at the University of North Carolina at Chapel this fall, for which she has received a $10,000 scholarship from the People Helping People program through the State Employees’ Credit Union.
Jacobs has served as student body president and secretary for the student council at Southern High School and served as the vice chairman for the central North Carolina region on the N.C. Association of Student Councils.
She has also played travel soccer with the Mebane Youth Soccer Association; served as captain of the varsity Women’s soccer team at Southern High School; volunteered with the Top Soccer program through the Mebane Youth Soccer Association; and participated in Link Crew.
A member of the National Honors Society, Jacobs says her favorite classes at Southern High School were Biology and Leadership, the latter of which is part of the AP history curriculum taught by Teri Rasa. Jacobs recalls that one of her favorite experiences during the last four years was “leading the decoration of our homecoming float my freshman year and [being chosen as] Homecoming Queen Runner-up my senior year.”
In her spare time, Jacobs has worked part-time as a lifeguard for the city of Burlington’s recreation and parks department.
John Linville, 18, is the son of John and Kristine Linville of Mebane. He plans to enroll at Appalachian State University, for which he has received an Appalachian Excellence Scholarship for $2,000.
Linville says his favorite class at Southern was Civics and Economics.
His extracurricular activities include serving as the cadet commander for the Burlington Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol.
Julia Panknin, 17, is the daughter of Eric and Christy Panknin of Graham. She plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill this fall and has received a $10,000 scholarship from the People Helping People program through the State Employees’ Credit Union.
Panknin has served as president of the National Honor Society and as student body vice president at Southern High School. A competitive dancer, she has been captain of the Patriots’ Dance Team; performed as a soloist for the Ballet Company; volunteered as a dance teacher for special education students with Plié Pals at the Centre of Performing Arts, located off Auto Park Drive in Graham; and attended the Governor’s School (a residential summer program for intellectually-gifted high school students in North Carolina) in 2021.
She has also volunteered as an audio/visual coordinator for her church, Bellemont United Methodist Church in Burlington, and worked as a lifeguard at the Graham pool.
Panknin points to AP Spanish as her favorite class at Southern High School and says one of her most memorable experiences in high school was “dancing on the sidelines in the rain at football games last fall.”
Lucas Sharpe, 18, is the son of Julie Willis and Alan Sharpe of Burlington. He plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall.
Like other ABSS high school students, Sharpe split his time in high school between Southern and the ABSS Career & Technical Education Center (CTEC) in Burlington, where he took advanced computer coursework and says Programming 2 was his favorite class.
One of his memories from high school is “talking and playing games in class after finishing my work at CTEC,” says Sharpe.
His extracurricular activities have included: Southern High School’s Creative Writing club; volunteering with Cone Health; and participating in forest cleanup projects with Alamance Community College.
Conner Spitler, 18, is the son of Robert and Kim Spitler of Burlington. He plans to enroll at High Point University this fall, for which he will receive a High Point University Presidential Scholarship, valued at $56,000 and disbursed over four years; High Point University Natural Science Fellows for $12,000 over four years; and $2,500 scholarship from Chick-fil-A.
Spitler also split his time in high school between Southern and CTEC, where took advanced computer courses and served as student body president. He says his favorite class at CTEC was Python Programming and that one of his favorite things about high school was “having my own office at CTEC and playing games in Zoom classes.”
Outside of high school, Spitler has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and has been active at St. Mark’s Church in Burlington.
Carter Tumey, 17, is the son of Robert and Maureen Tumey of Haw River.
An AP Scholar and National Honor Society member, Tumey plans to enroll at N.C. State University this fall, for which he has received a $2,100 Turrentine Scholarship; $500 scholarship from the N.C. Farm Bureau; and a $500 Megan Mann Scholarship. [N.C. State offers the Turrentine Scholarship to Alamance County residents who have financial need. The Megan Mann Riggans and Will Riggans Memorial Scholarship is restricted to students who are interested in a dairy-related career and are active in FFA, 4-H, N.C. Jr. Holstein and/or related academic clubs; have demonstrated academic merit; and plan to enroll in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State.]
Tumey – like his older brother Hudson Tumey, who graduated from Southern High School in 2021 – has been active with the Patriots’ acclaimed Future Farmers of America chapter. Carter Tumey has served as an officer in FFA and helped the Nursery Landscape team win a Nationals silver emblem in 2021 and the Floriculture team win 3rd place at the state championships in 2021.
Through his participation in Southern High School’s FFA chapter, Tumey has received: the Greenhand FFA Degree, awarded to members who learn about the FFA history, mission, creed and emblem and make plans for a supervised agricultural experience (SAE); a chapter FFA degree; and a state FFA degree, which is awarded to high school juniors and seniors who are involved in chapter leadership, community service, and other related activities.
Tumey has also been active in the Boy Scouts, serving as a patrol leader, librarian, and achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, in addition to being a member of the Patriots’ track and cross country teams throughout most of his four years at Southern High School.
In addition to his extracurricular activities, Tumey has worked as co-owner of a lawn mowing business; worked part-time at Chick-fil-A; and in 2021 served as a summer leader for Young Life of Alamance County. He has helped with community service projects that include trail and stadium cleanups, canned food drives, Relay for Life, and Christmas Cheer of Alamance County, a nonprofit that raises money and donations at Christmastime for underprivileged children and the elderly in the community.
Southern High School held commencement exercises for the Class of 2022 at Greensboro Coliseum this past Saturday night (June 11).