Knapp grads set records for ACT, college degrees earned
By Reggie Ponder
Friday, May 24, 2019
J.P. Knapp Early College conferred diplomas on a 64-member graduating class Thursday that set school records for both ACT scores and the number of college degrees earned.
Principal Denise Fallon in her opening remarks noted that the 17 “super-seniors” earned a total of 44 degrees, career diplomas and certifications from College of The Albemarle. She mentioned that 84 percent of the super-seniors earned a degree, diploma or certification from COA — a school record and an outstanding accomplishment for any early college.
The class also set a school record for the college-entrance exam ACT last year, Fallon said. She also mentioned that 65 percent of the super-seniors were honors graduates and 39 of the 47 regular seniors were graduating with honors.
Steve Basnight, the only principal J.P. Knapp had ever had until he left last year to become superintendent of schools in Hyde County, was Thursday’s keynote speaker. He told Knapp graduates that his years at the early college will always be the most memory-filled of his career.
Basnight said his goal from the day he started at Knapp was to be able to walk out and everything continue as if he were still there.
“I’m proud to say that things have not only continued but from all I’m seeing tonight they’ve not only continued but they’ve gotten better,” Basnight said, referring in part to accomplishments cited by Fallon.
Basnight challenged the graduates not to spend too much time looking at themselves in the mirror, lest they become self-centered, or looking back at who was following them or chasing them, lest they lose focus or give in to fear, but rather to look ahead and focus on doing the right thing and treating others well.
Lessons they learned at the early college, he said, included: believing in themselves, challenging themselves, collaborating with others, realizing that failure is temporary, asking for help, and helping others.
Basnight also said fairy tales get it wrong by treating “happily ever after” as the end of the story.
“The journey — the day to day — is the happily ever after,” Basnight said. “Realize that your happily ever after doesn’t come at the end. It can be your every day.”
Rylan Paye, the class valedictorian, urged fellow graduates to live life and not miss out on the here and now.
Paye, who plans to study electrical engineering at Western Carolina University, said attending J.P. Knapp was a great opportunity and that the school’s faculty and staff are supportive.
“I’m really happy that I chose to go here,” Paye said.
Anna Prescott, the class salutatorian, thanked teachers, family and friends for their support, and asked graduates to consider their best and worst days from the past 13 years of school. Strive to have more days like the best ones, and learn from the worst days, she said.
Knapp graduates have different post-graduation plans.
Spencer Shilling said in an interview that he plans to study integrated science and technology at James Madison University. He said he got a great head start on college by attending the early college.
Shilling said he enjoyed his college courses at COA. “They had a surprisingly good public speaking course,” he said.
While the first two years at Knapp were similar to a traditional high school, “the last two years I was basically living the college life,” Shilling said.
Haley Workman plans to study recreation therapy at East Carolina University.
She believes attending the early college allowed her to get a head-start on her college work.
“I’ve always been one of those people who wants to be ahead of everybody,” she said.
Workman said she enjoyed her classes at COA — especially anatomy.
The class gift from the Knapp Class of 2019 are new banners for the A Building at COA.