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Carroll's top students honor their mentors

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By Shaina Stockton

HILLSVILLE — Carroll County High School celebrated the first-ever Golden Cavalier Celebration and Banquet this year on May 22 at the school’s media center.

The event was held to honor the high school’s top 10 seniors, and give them an opportunity to, in turn, honor their greatest inspiration within the school system.

“Each senior was asked to write an essay about a member of the Carroll County Public School staff, and we invited the staff without telling them [who was honoring them],” said Schools Superintendent Strader Blankenship.

He further explained that each invitation to staff had been hand-delivered, so that they could be told exactly what was going on. “All of them were almost speechless,” he told The Gazette.

Following a dinner at the media center, CCHS Principal Charles Thompson introduced the students, who in turn got a chance to call up their mentor.

Each mentor received gold stars that each read “you made a difference.”

Megan Alderman, the daughter of Lynn Alderman, had been particularly interested in math throughout her school career. But when she looked back over her list of influences, she selected Fred Mitchell of CCHS as her mentor for guiding her towards a career in chemistry.

“In my junior year at Carroll County High School, I had the pleasure of taking Mr. Fred Mitchell’s college chemistry class… from the moment I walked into his class on the first day, I loved it. His class was fun, interesting and overwhelming at the same time. It was by far one of the hardest dual credit classes that I have taken, and I have taken many.”

In addition to helping her make a final choice for her major in college, Mitchell wrote letters of recommendation for Alderman for college admittance and for some scholarships. Thanks to his help and influence, Alderman will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall.

Jared Boyd, son of Mr. And Mrs. Stacy Boyd, named Randy Webb of CCHS as his mentor, for the influence that he’d had on him during his senior year.

“I could not ask for a better Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor or teacher, as Mr. Webb has pushed me harder, to think outside the box, than any other person has before. He has done so much for our FFA chapter, as well as our Agriculture department, and I’d like to think he has done a great favor to this school system as well,” Boyd wrote, noting that Webb had played a major part in the school getting their new STEM lab this year. “I find it amazing that it will be the first of its kind in a public high school.”

“Mrs. Shannon Dalton [yearbook advisor at CCHS] has been the most inspirational educator in my high school career,” wrote Kelsey Brown, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alan Caudell.

“She pushes her students to do their best, even when they stop believing in themselves. For me, she has shown me how to become a true leader and how a teacher must have care and compassion for their students.”

Lindsay Brumfield, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brumfield Jr., credited her success and her character to retired elementary school teacher Judy Dalton Dye.

“First grade was a good year for me, and not just because I had an amazing teacher, but because of the dramatic change I made from kindergarten. I remember being an awful, awful child my first year of school… so bad that I made my poor mother cry because she thought she had been burdened with a demon child.”

Brumfield credited Dye for giving her and her classmates a positive atmosphere that changed her attitude about school. “I wanted to be at school every day, and I even wanted extra work when I would get done with mine.”

One of her biggest goals was to get the “Student of the Month” award that Dye would give out, and she finally earned the title in March of that school year.

“Mrs. Dalton is the reason I’m here today. when I do my nursing homework, I use the work ethic I learned in first grade, from practicing my alphabet until I got every question right. This attitude is what has gotten me here. It is what will get me to school, it is what will push me across the stage to receive my [medical degree], and it is what will inspire me to save lives for a lifetime.”

Katlyn Gallimore, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Randal Gallimore, selected Amy Hash of Laurel Elementary School as her mentor.

“Third grade was, by far, one of my favorite years in school because of her… the way she teaches makes it fun and easy for her students to learn. To be a fun teacher, she also holds a great amount of patience. Her main goal is for students to learn, but to also have fun while learning.”

Gallimore added that Hash was the reason she became interested in math, and that she plans to continue following that interest in her future nursing career.

“There’s a lot one can learn from ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Hamlet’ — one of Shakespeare’s more famous plays. In fact, there’s a lot one can learn from a lot of books, something I always believed,” said Erika Goad, daughter of Mr and Mrs. James Goad. “But in many ways, [my belief] was confirmed by Mrs. Donna Ogle’s [CCHS] teaching in my college english class this year. It’s safe to say that English has always been my favorite subject in school… but Mrs. Ogle was the first teacher that gave books and writing a different meaning for me.”

Goad reflected over her heavy workload of writing assignments that she had during Ogle’s class, and noted that she’d never grown so much as a writer. “She gave me freedom to write about topics that meant something to me. And trust me, there’s nothing worse than writing about something you’re not passionate about.

“And then there was the reading component of the class… even though I loved books before, Mrs. Ogle taught me how to love them even more now. She taught me to pay attention to every detail. She taught me that everything, every word , matters. She taught me to see what only those who look hard enough can see.”

Former teacher Kellie Worrell of St. Paul School was recognized by Samantha Hill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Hill.

“The first time I had Mrs. Worrell was in seventh grade. I was part of a small group that was taking seventh and eighth grade math at the same time. She worked with us every day teaching everything we needed to know to get that perfect score on the SOL tests. But that wasn’t all she did.

“She made learning math fun, and put us to work in projects that involved the smart board and other advanced technology that she and other teachers didn’t even know about yet.”

After starting classes at the intermediate school, Hill got the swine flu and fell behind on her classes. “Mrs. Worrell worked with me on her own time helping me get caught up,” she said.

Hill plans to attend Virginia Tech, and, thanks to Worrell’s influence, plans to chase after a career involving math.

Kenley Meredith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Meredith, met Carroll County Middle School’s ag teacher, John Carpenter, in eighth grade. In his class, he was introduced to metal and woodworking.

“Over the two year span, I came to know Mr. Carpenter as one of the best teachers and mentors I’ve ever had. As a student, he always told stories of his experiences of work and teaching that have helped shape ideas about my future.

“This year, I have interned with Mr. Carpenter to gain more experience working with the class’s CNC machine. He has helped me work towards my goal of being a mechanical engineer by allowing me to work in his classroom.”

Ethan Webb, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kendall Webb, recognized William “Vance” Leggett of CCHS as his mentor.

“Mr. Leggett teaches dual credit building trades at the high school. I had him [in 11th grade] and would recommend his class to anyone at the high school,” he said.

He praised Leggett for making his students feel welcome and at home in his class, for standing against bullying and belittling between classmates and teaching materials in an interactive setting.

“But overall, the biggest thing that has stood out to me about Mr. Leggett over the years is how much he cares. He is truly an extraordinary teacher in the way that he makes relationships with his students and tries to help them in school as well as in life.”

The morning after the ceremony, Blankenship received an email from one of the parents, sharing that their child had kept a bulletin board outside of their room, full of memories, inspirations and plans for the future.

“They said that it was mostly full of stuff pertaining to college, but that morning they’d noticed that [the event program] had been tacked up, turned to the quote on the back.”

The back of each program had an anonymous quote written on it: “First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children to grow old enough so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now, I am dying… and suddenly realize I forgot to live.”

“This wasn’t a quote that I’d read to just everyone,” said Blankenship, but he explained that he felt that these students should know the value of the here and now as they set off towards their futures.