Vals & Sals: Top area graduates aim high

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Ryan Tunney


From staff reports

Monday, June 24, 2019

Valedictorians and salutatorians at area high schools are ready to leave their mark on the world — and some plan to return to the area to leave that mark here.

At John A. Holmes High School in Edenton, Briana Rodriguez and Ryan Tunney share valedictorian honors for the Class of 2019. Both Rodriguez and Tunney achieved a final GPA of 4.527.

Rodriguez will be majoring in biology at Salem College.

“After I obtain my biology degree, I plan to attend ECU’s physician assistant school and return to work in Chowan Hospital,” Rodriguez said.

Tunney will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he plans to major in business as well as exercise and sport science.

“I plan to become a physical therapist,” Tunney said.

Brady Armstrong is salutatorian at John A. Holmes with a final GPA of 4.514.

Armstrong will be majoring in audio production at Middle Tennessee State University.

“I plan on becoming an audio producer and working in a recording studio,” Armstrong said. “My ultimate goal is to open my own studio with the help of my brother. I have a passion for music and audio.”

At Perquimans County High School the valedictorian is Lauren Winslow. The salutatorian at Perquimans High is Samantha Midgett.

Winslow will be majoring in neuroscience at Duke University and would like to work in the medical field, possibly in anesthesiology.

Her GPA was 4.73.

“It meant my hard work all four years had finally paid off,” she said of being the school’s valedictorian.

Sometimes she wanted to give up striving for As in all of her classes, she said.

“But it paid off,” she added.

Winslow said she wanted to recognize her parents, Philip and Marisa Winslow. She pointed out that her sister, Jaclyn Winslow Cartwright, was valedictorian at Perquimans in 2009.

Teachers Kim Tyson and Lynette Baker helped her in many ways, she said. “They always had an open door,” Winslow said.

And teachers Michael Fipps and Kristine Corprew helped her with essays for college and scholarship applications.

Winslow said she appreciated that the teachers and staff at Perquimans High are like a family.

“They want the students to succeed even after they graduate,” Winslow said.

Midgett, the class salutatorian, has been accepted into the Honors College program at East Carolina University and will be majoring in accounting. The Honors College offers benefits such as priority registration, a scholarship for four years, and leadership opportunities.

Midgett said she plans to become an accountant and has an interest in working for a nonprofit that helps children in less-developed countries.

Midgett said she appreciated the opportunity she had in high school to take college courses.

“I have a bunch of classes under my belt,” she said.

Teachers Kristine Corprew in English and Kim Tyson in math were very helpful, according to Midgett.

Midgett said she likes the close-knit nature of the Perquimans community.

“We're always there for each other,“ she said.

She said she hasn't yet decided whether she might be interested in returning to Perquimans to work.

“I'm just going to see where the road takes me,” she said.

Daniel Nadj is the valedictorian at Camden County High School.

Nadj plans to attended the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., where he will study computer science and electrical engineering.

He would like to become a software developer.

Nadj said he was happy — and surprised — to learn that he was Camden’s valedictorian.

He said he enjoyed attending a small high school.

“I really like that it’s a small school because all my friends are really close,” Nadj said.

Kacie Horton is the salutatorian at Camden County High. She will be attending UNC — Chapel Hill in the fall.

“I plan to major in biology and pursue a career as a pharmacist,” Horton said.

Horton’s final GPA was 4.4839.

The valedictorian at Currituck County High School for the Class of 2019 is Sydney Gardner, who graduated with a grade point average of 4.62. Gardner will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kaleb Kight is the salutatorian at Currituck County High School. Kight completes his high school career with a GPA of 4.52. He will attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to study engineering.

At J.P. Knapp Early College in Currituck, the valedictorian is Rylan Paye and the salutatorian is Anna Prescott.

This year’s senior graduating classes at Northeastern and Pasquotank County high schools had no designated valedictorians and salutatorians, as the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Schools adopted the Latin merit distinctions commonly used by colleges and universities. Several high-achieving students at the schools were honored as summa cum laude, or “with highest honor.”