Congratulations To The Classes of - 2023
To The Classes of
As May comes to a close and local graduation dates near, all of the high schools in the surrounding area — with the exception of Vidalia High School — have named the valedictorians and salutatorians of the Class of 2023.
Montgomery County High School
The Montgomery County High School Class of 2023 will begin its graduation week traditions on Thursday, May 18, with continued from page
the annual baccalaureate service, which will be held at the Board of Education office at 7 p.m. The seniors will then turn their tassels on Friday, May 19, beginning at 8 p.m. at Brogdon Field.
Rome Thornton has been named the Eagles’ Class of 2023 valedictorian. Thornton has attended the Montgomery County School System for the entirety of his academic career. He has been very active in athletics during this time, playing football, soccer, golf, running track, and wrestling. Thornton was very successful in these endeavors, earning all region honors for soccer and football, as well as being named a three-time area champ, four-time state qualifier, and a state placer for wrestling.
“It’s a blessing, that’s for sure,” he commented on how he felt to receive this honor. “It’s made me very grateful for all the work I’ve put in and the people who’ve helped me along the way. I know my mama sure is happy I got it.”
When asked if there was anyone he would like to thank, Thornton immediately mentioned his parents. “I’d like to thank my mama and my daddy – my mama especially. They’ve always pushed me to do my very best in all aspects of life. And of course, a thank you to all my teachers and mentors who’ve taught and helped me along my way.”
Thornton’s advice to underclassmen in the high school was simple. “My best advice is to work hard, but don’t stress it. You may mess up here and there, just let it help you get better. And enjoy high school while you can, go out with your friends and make as many memories as you can, because it doesn’t last forever, and it definitely goes by quick,” he concluded.
Though having attended Montgomery County High School only since his sophomore year, salutatorian Xavier Douglas has left a legacy of academic excellence at the school.
Douglas also was active in athletics during his high school years, as he was a member of the school’s cross country team. Additionally, he rose to Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America, and earned certificates of excellence in both English Language Arts and Social Studies in the past four years.
When asked how it felt to be named salutatorian of his class, Douglas said that it was great to receive the honor. “I have to thank my parents for raising me well, and guiding me to success,” he added.
He concluded by urging underclassmen not to be afraid to do what they need to in order to succeed. “Pay attention, ask questions, and do what feels right,” Douglas remarked.
Robert Toombs Christian Academy
The Robert Toombs Christian Academy Class of 2023 Crusaders graduated at McLendon Field on Monday, May 15, signifying the end of their high school careers.
Valedictorian Kate Kennedy has not only excelled academically, but also in her extracurricular activities during her 14 years in the school system. She has played alto saxophone in the school band for the entirety of her high school career, participated in the one-act play group for three years, been a member of the literary team for two years, shown pigs at livestock shows, and been a member of the school’s chapters of Beta Club and National Honor Society.
Kennedy was a member of this year’s Greater Vidalia Youth Leadership Program, and was the second place winner of the State National History Day competition in Macon for two years. She was awarded recognition for having the overall highest average for her class in the tenth and twelfth grades, and even won the STAR Student award for not just her school, but also the district.
“It feels very good to receive this honor. I am so happy that my hard work has paid off,” Kennedy emphasized. “I would like to thank my parents for always encouraging me to do my best work and being there for me. I would like to thank my sister for always being someone I can count on. I would like to thank my friends for always being there to talk to and make me smile. Lastly, I would like to thank all my family, friends, teachers, and classmates who have helped me become the person I am today. I am truly grateful for everything you have done for me throughout my life.”
When asked her advice to underclassmen, Kennedy remarked, “Always do your best. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. If you do your best, you should never be disappointed by the outcome. Also, I would like to say enjoy every moment of high school. High school goes by so fast and before you know it you are graduating and starting a new chapter of your life. Don’t spend your short amount of time stressed and wishing it away. Spend time with your family and friends. Enjoy every moment because it will go by so much faster than you think.”
Salutatorian Andrew Tuck, who has also attended the school for the entirety of his academic career, leaves behind a legacy of academic, athletic, and leadership excellence at Robert Toombs Christian Academy.
Tuck has been a member of the school’s football, baseball, and track teams all four years of high school. He earned All Region honors in football his junior and senior years, and in baseball his junior year. He was even given the Academic Athlete Award at this year’s honors night event.
In addition to sporting activities, Tuck has been a member of the school’s Leo Club and National Honor Society, and served as a Student Government Association officer for three years, including this year, during which he served as vice president.
He was honored for having the highest overall average in his class during his junior year, and was recognized this year for having the second highest overall average in the class.
“It feels great to receive such an honor. All of the late nights have paid off,” Tuck commented on the achievement. “I would like to thank my parents, teachers, and coaches for supporting me and guiding me throughout my career at Robert Toombs.”
Tuck advised underclassmen to find a balance between fun and focus in their high school experience. “Have fun during high school, but stay on top of your work so it doesn’t pile up and overwhelm you. Cherish every moment while you can because it goes by fast,” he said. Toombs County High School The high school experience will end on Saturday, May 20, at 8:30 a.m. at The Pit for the Toombs County High School Class of 2023 Bulldogs.
Valedictorian Allison Waller has attended the school system for 11 years, during which she has made a name for herself as a leader and standout student.
Waller has participated in spirit cheerleading throughout her high school experience, and is an active member of the school’s Beta Club. She recently received the STAR Student award for having the highest SAT score in the top 10 students of her class, as well as the Georgia Certificate of Merit.
“I am very grateful to receive the honor of being valedictorian! It makes me feel like all the time I spent studying and working hard on my school work has paid off!” she emphasized. “I would like to thank my family for being so encouraging and supportive! I would also like to thank all of my teachers who have helped me get to this point and accomplish my goals.”
When asked if she had any advice for underclassmen, Waller said, “Work hard and be disciplined in order to accomplish your goals!”
Salutatorian Joseph Ramos has been a student in the Toombs County School System for seven years, during which he has participated in one-act plays, literary competitions, and more.
He is a member of the school’s Beta Club and even won first place in the district for the Young Georgia Authors Competition.
“I was not sure that I would be named as the salutatorian. I worked hard for all of my school career, yet, I was still shocked when my name was announced. I am proud and I am honored to be the salutatorian of Toombs County High School's class of 2023,” he explained.
When asked who he wanted to thank for their help and support throughout his high school years, he shared his gratitude for his parents, friends, and teachers. “I want to thank everyone who ever touched my life for the better. To the people who reminded me that I am loved, thank you,” Ramos summarized.
His advice to underclassmen focused on the importance of remaining true to who you are. “Always be yourself and don't let others hold you down for who you are, No matter what you go through, you can always prevail and you will live to see a brighter day, and please show kindness,” Ramos concluded. Wheeler County High School The Wheeler County High School Class of 2023 Bulldogs will graduate under the stadium lights of Bulldog Stadium on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m.
Valedictorian Jasmine Holland Soto has been very involved in sports and extracurricular activities at Wheeler County High School since joining the school system in eighth grade.
Soto has been a member of the school’s soccer team and marching band for four years, as she served as the band captain in elev- continued from page
enth grade and the drum major in twelfth grade. She has been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) for three years and the Beta Club for four years, during which she has served as both vice president and president of the club. She also was a member of the Meadows Hospital Medical Staff Youth Advisory Board this year.
She received the Georgia Certificate of Merit last year, and was recognized in the 2021-2022 National Rural and Small-Town Recognition Program. She even earned the STAR Student honor this year.
“It feels very inspiring [to be valedictorian]. When I attained this position, I was set up for success, and nothing could stand in my way,” Soto emphasized. “I would like to thank my family, friends, and teachers. They have always had my back when I would have questions or challenges that I needed to overcome.”
When asked her advice to underclassmen, Soto stated, “Never allow yourself to be defined by the definition that others give you. Define yourself with how you want to be, not how others see you.”
Salutatorian Amber Seabolt has attended the Wheeler County School System the entirety of her academic career, during which she has become heavily involved with extracurricular activities.
Seabolt was a member continued from page
of the soccer and cheerleading teams throughout her high school experience, and also participated in several clubs, such as Beta Club, Future Farmers of America (FFA), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and Spanish Club.
She is a recipient of the University of Georgia Merit Award, and has earned many honors for her writing ability, including third place in the RESA District Writing Contest, third place in the Georgia Young Authors Writing Competition, and first place in the Literary Rhetorical Essay Competition.
“I feel blessed to be named salutatorian. I have worked hard and seeing that pay off has given me one more thing to be proud of,” Seabolt remarked. “I would like to thank my parents and the school administrators. I was always supported by these people and having them throughout my high school career made everything easier.”
When asked her advice for underclassmen, Seabolt provided a simple guide to a successful high school experience. “Put your mind to a goal and stick with it!” she stressed. “Work hard, be dedicated, and you’ll see all your dreams come true.”
Vidalia Heritage Academy Vidalia Heritage Academy will say goodbye to the Class of 2023 Eagles on Saturday, May 27, at 9 a.m. at the Worship Center of the First Baptist Church of Vidalia.
Valedictorian Julia Beacham has attended Vidalia Heritage Academy for 13 years, during which she has been extremely active in both athletics and extracurricular activities.
She has been a member of the archery, softball, and track and field teams throughout her high school experience. She has also participated in literary competitions, one-act plays, visual arts competitions, Harvard Model Congress, Greater Vidalia Youth Leadership Board, Peoples Bank Youth Board, National Honor Society, and Meadows Hospital Medical Staff Youth Advisory Board.
She placed fourth in the GAPPS State Graphic Design competition, and earned the DAR Good Citizenship and STAR Student honors during her senior year.
“I feel incredibly honored and grateful to see all of my hard work come to fruition,” Beacham remarked. “I would like to thank my family, friends, and school faculty who have consistently pushed me to become the best student and person that I can be.”
When asked her advice for underclassmen, Beacham left a message for the rising seniors. “Though senior year can become stressful with all of the plans that need to be made for your future, be sure to take time to enjoy your year. Senior year can be your most fun year if you take time to appreciate it.”
Salutatorian Emily Jarriel comes from a family with a history of excellence, as many within her lineage were also named salutatorians of their classes. “My older sister was salutatorian and my grandmother was also salutatorian, so it feels like I’m following in their footsteps and therefore in a good path,” she explained. “It feels amazing, in short.” Jarriel has attended Vidalia Heritage Academy for six years, during which she solidified her reputation as a talented and determined student in both academics and extracurricular activities. As the female discus and shotput thrower on the school’s track team, Jarriel qualified for the state tournament all four years of high school. She also has been the reigning Literary Humorous Oral Interpretation State Champion since 2021, as she has taken home three back-to-back state titles.
She has also participated in theatre performances throughout her high school career, as she has been a member of the one-act play group for the entirety of high school, which captured a State Championship and State Runner Up title during this time. Jarriel is also active in community theatre, and even acted in the “Tales From the Altamaha” folk play this year.
The salutatorian shared her gratitude for the support of her family and friends during her high school experience. “My sisters have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout high school and my mom and dad never failed to make time for my honors. Also, my greatest friends and allies, Carleigh, Rylee, and Julia, because without their emotional support, I likely would’ve given up before finishing the race. I also want to thank all of my teachers who took time out of their day to focus on my needs, and, lastly myself. I worked hard and I believe I earned it,” she shared.
When asked her advice for underclassmen, Jarriel commented, “To be frank, a lot of your high school experience will feel unbearable, but just stick with it and don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the chaos around you. You can do this; it’s just going to be a bit of a pain for a while.”
Vidalia High School
Vidalia High School has yet to name the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2023 Indians, but will do so on Thursday, May 18, at the school’s Honors Night.