Abby Thrasher and John Samuel miss on the “high five,” laugh, then try again in front of the high school Monday.
But the two certainly haven’t missed on much in class. Thrasher is the 2014 Madison County High School valedictorian, while Samuel is the salutatorian.
Both will stand at the podium Friday with their classmates at the Classic Center to bid farewell to MCHS and their grade school days. Moms and dads will be in the crowd. Speeches will be given. And hats will be hurled high before friends hug each other bye.
“I’m going to miss the teachers, because they really care about their students,” said Thrasher. “They want to know what goes on in your life, the extra-curricular activities you do, so they can support you.”
The top two MCHS graduates will both make the short drive to Athens in the fall to attend the University of Georgia.
“I’m going to UGA to major in animal sciences so I can go to vet school afterwards,” said Thrasher. “I’ve always just loved animals and my neighbor actually is a vet at the Comer Vet Clinic and she let me go and shadow her for the past couple of summers, and I’ve just really enjoyed getting to see all that and I want to help.”
Samuel, this year’s MCHS “Star Student,” said he plans to study mechanical engineering.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be an architect, but then I figured out I couldn’t draw, which is kind of important for an architect,” said Samuel. “So I decided to go into the actual planning of things and building of things. Machines have always interested me and robotics, the physics of all that.”
Samuel said he’s going to miss his friends.
“Most of my friends I think I’ll be able to stay in touch with,” said Samuel. “But you know, it’s just leaving all these people I’ve gotten to know for three years now. Even though I haven’t known them as well as I wish I had.”
Samuel was born in the U.S., then moved to India, before moving back when he was 5. His parents homeschooled him from first through ninth grade. He said his parents have largely shaped his education.
“My parents were teachers for pretty much the majority of my school,” said Samuel. “It was my aunts and uncles teaching me up until first grade in India. And then first to ninth grade, I was taught by my parents. So, the majority of my schooling has been from my parents. They’re the ones who pushed me. If you have your parents as your teachers, you’re obviously not going to get away with a ‘B.’ You always have to make an ‘A.’ You’re always getting pushed.”
Samuel, who plans to work this summer as a lifeguard at Victoria Bryant State Park, said language arts teacher Trent Wilkes has been a terrific influence during his time at MCHS. In fact, he chose Wilkes as this year’s “Star Teacher” at MCHS earlier this year — the “Star Student” always gets to make that selection.
“He’s the one who pushed me to do well on the SAT,” said Samuel of Wilkes. “My lowest score was in writing and he pushed me to where I could actually make a really good score with the writing.
He also said math teacher Joy King was a huge help.
“Ms. King was awesome,” said Samuel. “She helped me a lot with my calculus this year. She taught me it’s really not as hard as it looks.”
Thrasher also praised Wilkes for his teaching.
“Wilkes is one for me too,” said Thrasher. “He’s always been there to help me with my writing and to help me with any recommendations or how to write for colleges or even the graduation speech. Ms. (Beth) Thornton has always been there supporting me, too.”
Thrasher, who plans to continue assisting at the Comer Vet Clinic this summer, said her parents joined the workforce straight out of high school. She said they’ve really encouraged her to pursue a college education and to find a job she’ll love, not just endure.
“They always just encourage me to find a profession I have a passion for and to strive and work as hard as I can to achieve that goal,” said Thrasher. “So when I go to work, it’s not, ugh, I got to go to work. It’s yay, I get to go to work.”
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