Top of their class: Valedictorians and salutatorians reflect on high school careers
The valedictorians and salutatorians have been announced for Carroll County schools.
Mary Michael Hudgens and Jeanessa Smith are the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Berryville High School Class of 2017.
Hudgens said it is a proud accomplishment to be the valedictorian.
“It’s a good feeling and a nice end to my high school career,” she said.
Smith agreed, saying being salutatorian makes all the hard work she put into her classes worth it.
“Going into my junior year, I kind of knew I was on track to be salutatorian,” she said. “I was really glad because it makes it all worth it at the end of the year because it’s tough trying to keep your grades up throughout all four years.”
Hudgens said she will be attending the University of Dallas in Texas next year and plans to major in history with a concentration in law. Smith said she will be attending Arkansas Tech University in Russellville next year and will be in the honors college. She said she plans to major in economics and finance.
They said it will be an interesting transition from the small-town atmosphere of Berryville High School to bigger universities and cities.
“I think one thing that will be really different is this school is so small. I know everybody here, and everybody knows me,” Smith said. “You can go anywhere in this town and know people. Going off to another town, that will be different.”
“The school I’m going to is still pretty small, so I feel like it will still have the same aspect of Berryville High School,” Hudgens said. “But I’m moving to Dallas, so living in a different city will be a challenge. I’m really excited about it, too.”
She said she is most excited about focusing on her areas of interest for college.
“I’m excited to be studying stuff I’m
specifically interested in,” Hudgens said. “I think exploring the new curriculum will be great.”
Smith said she is looking forward to taking her first big step into adulthood.
“I’m excited to be on my own, so to speak,” she said. “This is our first big step in the transition out of our childhood home, so I’m excited to be on my own and start this next chapter.”
Before they can take that next step, however, Smith said she and Hudgens must first prepare their speeches for graduation.
“I’ve tried working on it, but how are you supposed to summarize everything into one speech?” Smith said. “It’s very daunting. How do you address your peers for the last time? I don’t even know how to start.”
“I’ve been having the same problem,” Hudgens said.
Azziah Brothers and Sarah Vaughan are the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Eureka Springs High School Class of 2017.
Vaughan said it is a great honor to be the salutatorian.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work, but it was worth it,” she said.
Brothers said it feels pretty amazing to be announced as the valedictorian.
“It’s good to know all my hard work is being shown and people know how much hard work it’s been the past few years,” she said.
Brothers said she will be attending Arkansas Tech University in Russellville next year and plans to major in nursing. She said her goal is to eventually be a nurse practitioner. Vaughan said she will be attending the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and will be in the school’s Schedler Honors College. She said she plans to major in health science with the goal of becoming a physical therapist after she graduates.
Brothers said she will miss all of the community support students receive in Eureka Springs.
“The community is always involved and always there to support you and tell you how good you are and to push through,” she said.
“I think I will definitely miss my friends the most,” Vaughan said.
As salutatorian, she said she will be working on the “Remember When” speech for graduation.
“It’s a collaborative speech where the whole class talks about memories from high school that really stand out to us,” she said.
Brothers said she plans to focus on how the senior class’s adventure is just beginning for her valedictorian speech.
“Right now, I think I might talk about how our adventure is not done yet,” she said. “It’s just the beginning, so we should not get so down about leaving our families and our school. There is so much more to come.”
Alex Cisco and Sloane Coffey are the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Green Forest High School Class of 2017.
Cisco said it feels good to realize all the hard work she has put into her classes has paid off.
“Of course, we’ve always gotten praise from our teachers about all the hard work we do, but seeing the results of that work is really great,” she said.
“I would agree on that,” Coffey said. “It’s one thing for someone to tell you, but it’s another to get the recognition.”
She said she and Cisco have nearly identical post-graduation plans. They will be attending Arkansas Tech University in Russellville next year. Cisco said she plans to major in political science and minor in international studies. Coffey said she plans to major in political science and minor in Spanish.
Cisco said she will miss her teachers at Green Forest High School and the connections made possible through the school’s small size.
“Going to such a small high school, you have the same teachers for four years,” she said. “You see them for four years and get to have them for different classes, so I know I’m definitely going to miss the connection I had with my teachers.”
“I think I will miss seeing all my friends every day, eating lunch together and playing high school sports,” Coffey said. “I know it’s not the same once you get to college. It’s like a little family here, and I will miss that.”
Although they will miss Green Forest High School, they said they are excited to start college at Arkansas Tech.
“I’m excited to sleep in and not have to be at school and work out at 7:30 a.m. every morning,” Coffey said.
“I’m going to be a member of the honors college at Arkansas Tech, so I’m excited to be a part of that community,” Cisco said. “I feel like that’s more like the closeness and tight-knit family I have here, so I’m excited to continue that into college.”