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Superintendent’s List students are honored
Martinsville High School senior Chelsey Jennings (from left) receives the Superintendent’s Cord Tuesday morning from schools Superintendent Pam Heath. Jennings was among 24 students honored during a breakfast ceremony at Chatmoss Country Club for making the Superintendent’s List, which means she maintained at least a 4.0 grade point average throughout high school. Also pictured are Paulette Simington, the division’s executive director of special education and student services, and MHS Principal Aji Dixon.
Twenty-four top scholars from Martinsville High School were honored Tuesday morning for making the Superintendent’s List.
The list honors seniors who have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or higher throughout high school. Weighted grades from Advanced Placement courses mean that some honorees have GPAs higher than 4.0.
During the ceremony at Chatmoss Country Club, Superintendent Pam Heath draped the yellow Superintendent’s Cord around each student’s shoulders. Students will wear the cords over their gowns at graduation.
Honored were: Elizabeth Adkins, Karina Altamirano, Grant Boaz, William Campbell, Joseph Dietrich, Preston Duff, Juliet Ellis, L.B. Fox, Miranda Givens, Joseph Halpin, Alexis Heavner, Atallah Hezbor, Chelsey Jennings, Chanlee Luu, Devante Martin, Michael Mason, Evan Monroe, Jordan Nester, Kiarra Price, Luis Rosas-Lopez, Marissa Smith, Madison Snell, Mehar Virdi and Virginia Whitener.
“It took a lot of hard work, and it feels very good knowing that I’ve accomplished a lot,” Rosas-Lopez said. After graduation, he said he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps as an electrician.
Givens agreed that making the list took “lots of hours of studying and homework, making sure everything is right and lots of help from my parents.” Now, she said, “I’m just excited and glad. I’m ready to start on the next chapter” in which she plans to major in communication science and speech pathology at Radford University.
Hezbor said he feels “a sense of accomplishment. It took lots of hard work and lots of help from family and teachers.” He plans to major in computer science at the University of Virginia and hopes to become a software engineer.
“I see a lot of smiles out there today, and we are smiling with you,” Heath told students after congratulating them for their work. “I encourage you to savor the next six weeks” before graduation, she said, because it is a special time that will not happen again.
Martinsville graduate, Bill Kirby IV of the class of 1992, who now is vice president and area manager for the Southside region at American National Bank, also offered advice to the seniors.
Kirby is “living proof that you can come back home and do very well,” Heath said in her introduction.
“Martinsville High School did an outstanding job preparing me for college and beyond,” Kirby said. In his remarks, he shared lessons learned during his college years at Emory & Henry and then while earning his law degree at Drake College.
Chief among them, he repeated throughout his talk, “Thank your parents. Often. They have sacrificed a lot to get you to where you are, and they will continue to sacrifice a lot.”
After going to college, Kirby said, “Consider coming back. I swore I was never coming back here,” he added with a laugh.
However, he found, “the very reasons that made me want to leave when I was your age are the same reasons I love it here now,” especially as he and his wife, Sharon, raise their three young children.
Speaking from his banking perspective, Kirby said, “avoid the credit card guy.”
Credit card companies will set up booths on college campuses and try to get students to sign up, but it is not free money, he warned. “There are too many instances I see now where I pull somebody’s credit and they can’t get approved to buy their first house because they bought an Xbox and a mountain bike on credit at age 19 and didn’t pay it back.”
Kirby said the best advice his father gave him for college was, “Every evening when you get home, before you start on homework, reread the notes that you took in class that day.” This helped him tremendously, he said.
“Take a class outside your major, just because it interests you,” he advised. Kirby said he took an art history class just for that reason, and “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been at Piedmont Arts or a party” and the class has helped him in conversations about art.
College is more than academics — it’s a chance to make lifelong friends, Kirby said.
He urged students not to room with people they already know or come home every weekend, or they will miss out on meeting new people.
Kirby also urged students to enjoy this time, take lots of pictures and to turn their cellphones off once in a while. “This is a special time. You are never going to get this back,” he added.