Top academic students honored

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

With graduations filling up the calendar, area high schools are announcing the 2021 valedictorians and salutatorians. These students have worked tirelessly to get to the top of their class and already have great plans for the future.

Bogue Chitto Attendance Center’s valedictorian is Kayci Beth Wallace, daughter of Kenneth and Dana Wallace. She is the fourth valedictorian of Bogue Chitto from her family, following her father in 1986, her brother in 2011 and her sister in 2013. 

She represented the Bobcats in soccer, softball and basketball and was on the cheer team. Wallace also was a team leader at FCA, a Big Cat/Little Cat mentor, a Beta Club member and a student council member. 

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Wallace’s softball career has landed her a spot on the Southwest Community College Softball Team. She has received the valedictorian, ACT (28), and MHSAA Lindy Callahan scholarships along with the softball scholarship. She considers the Callahan scholarship to be one of her greatest achievements. 

“Only one boy and one girl are chosen from each district in the state of MS. This scholarship represents athletic and academic achievement, and I was honored to be selected,” Wallace said. 

At Southwest, Wallace will work toward a degree to pursue a career in dentistry.

For her fellow Bobcats, she says, “Don’t take any moment for granted! I know how stressful high school can be, but when it’s ending, you will be wishing you had just a little more time at BC. Give every class and every extracurricular activity your all; it will pay off!” 

The salutatorian of Bogue Chitto is Hugh Greer, son of Mike and Susan Greer.  Greer lettered in football, powerlifting and archery. He was president of the student council, Senior Beta and drama clubs, co-editor for the school newspaper and captain of the robotics club.

“It always felt great to be busy representing the school in something,” he said. 

Greer will attend Co-Lin next year, majoring in paralegal studies. He plans to transfer to Mississippi College, finish his undergraduate degree and then go to law school.

Brookhaven Academy had two valedictorians this year — Alandas Armistad and Kassidy Cupit. 

Armistad, son of Nathaniel and Kendra Armistad, has lived in the Brookhaven area his whole life. He attended Wesson Attendance Center from kindergarten through the eighth grade and then spent his first two high school years at Parklane Academy in McComb. He began attending Brookhaven Academy his junior year and describes his time there as a wonderfully enlightening course in life.

“I enjoyed support and comradery from every direction,” said Armistad.

Even though he enjoyed studying literature, Armistad will be attending St. Olaf College in Minnesota to study mathematics and mechanical engineering. He will also play baseball for the St. Olaf Oles. Baseball was a vital part of his high school career and is now carrying over into his college education.

Armistad would like to honor his parents and sister, Dedrick Clark, Deanna Culbertson, Brandi Barrett, Johnathan Breakfield and Cass Brister, for being influential and supportive in his high school career.

Kassidy Cupit, daughter of Brad and Amy Cupit, grew up attending Brookhaven Academy. She was involved in BA’s history and science clubs, track, cheer and tennis. 

“I loved being involved whether I was going on field trips, helping volunteer or attending sporting events. These clubs and sports brought me closer to classmates and helped me stay involved. They brought me some of the best memories during my high school years,” Cupit said.

Cupit plans to attend Copiah Lincoln Community College in the fall to get her prerequisites for nursing. She has received Co-Lin’s ACT President’s Scholarship, Murphy-Martin Endowment Scholarship from the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, KR Hodges Foundation through Colin, John “Dub” Sproles Scholarship through Mississippi Scholars, Brookhaven Academy Athlete Scholastic Award, National Honor Society President Scholarship and a valedictorian scholarship. After Co-Lin, she plans to go to nursing school at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

The Brookhaven Academy salutatorian is Caitlyn Burns, daughter of Janet Schmidt and Glenn Burns. Raised in Wesson, she attended Wesson Attendance Center until moving to Brookhaven Academy in the sixth grade. 

“I had a great experience at BA. My classes were a challenge at times, but they helped prepare me for further education. I was surrounded by peers engaging in the same curriculum and encouraged constantly by the staff,” said Burns.

Burns’ impressive ACT score of 30 has landed her many prestigious awards at Copiah Lincoln Community College, where she plans to attend in the fall. She received Co-Lin’s Academic, Salutatorian, Colette and Foundation Scholarships. Burns plans to study to get into the Medical Radiologic Technology Program and join the Colette Dance Team. 

Burns would like to thank her history teacher, Denise Sbravati. 

“[Sbravati] influenced me in a positive way throughout my middle school and high school years. She always made sure to do the extra work to make sure her students were prepared and having fun. I love keeping in touch with her and will always appreciate her kindness!” said Burns.

Brookhaven High School’s valedictorian is Sam Allen, son of Will and Jenny Allen. Born and raised in Brookhaven, Allen considers his time in the school district as a fortunate experience. 

Other than being valedictorian, one of Allen’s most outstanding achievements came just recently when he won the state tennis 5A boys’ singles championship. 

“I really still can’t believe that it happened, but I think that’s easily one of the greatest things I have ever done,” he said. 

Allen considers his time playing tennis to be one of the best experiences of his life. Other than his time on the court, he spent his fall semesters participating in Brookhaven High’s Homecoming Production. 

His favorite class at BHS was Digital Media Technology with Tiffany Speaks. 

“It was one of the few classes I’ve had that I looked forward to every day, and it helped set me on my current career path,” Allen said. 

He will be pursuing graphic design at Samford University with the Davis, Crosland, School of the Arts and Sherman Oak scholarships.

Sam would like to thank his parents, teachers Susan Thames and Brenda Sasser, and his tennis coaches Nancy Fisher, Becky Green, Stephanie Triplett and Maddie Hickman for their investments in him over the past few years. 

Candace Johnson, daughter of Claude and Kayra Johnson, is Brookhaven High School’s salutatorian. 

Johnson attended Copiah Academy until fifth grade, where she was a homeschool student until she started high school. She became involved in several clubs and ran cross-country during her senior year. 

Johnson’s favorite class was Polymer Science. 

“I learned so much from that class, and it taught me how to think critically and solve problems. I also learned skills that will help me when I go to college and even in the work field,” she said. 

One of her favorite high school memories was going to the state competition for polymer science at the University of Southern Mississippi, where BHS won.

Johnson will attend Mississippi State University to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. She has received the Dave C. Swalm, Colvard Future Leaders, Freshman Academic Excellence and the Mississippi Scholars of Lincoln County scholarships. 

For her fellow Brookhaven High Students, Johnson advises, “Surround yourself with people that have the same values as you. It helps a lot to have a good support system when trying to achieve your goals.”

Will McCullough, son of Brian and Stacie McCullough, is the valedictorian of Loyd Star Attendance Center. 

McCullough describes his time of being a Hornet as some of the best years of his life. His favorite high school memories come from playing in the band. 

“The pride and joy I felt during these performances are indescribable,” he said. 

Along with the band, McCullough participated in Future Farmers of America, ran cross country, and played tennis and basketball. 

His plans after high school are to attend Meridian Community College, where he will continue his academic and tennis careers. After Meridian, he plans to attend Mississippi College to finish his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. He wants to apply to medical school to pursue a career as a medical examiner.

From Meridian Community College, McCullough has received the valedictorian, Presidential, Presidential Plus, Leadership, and Eagle Scholarships. He also received the Mississippi Scholar Scholarship from KDMC and the Southwest Electric Youth Leadership Scholarship.

McCullough advises his fellow Hornets to enjoy their high school years. 

“Slow down and enjoy the small things at Loyd Star. Sure, high school can be hard sometimes, but high school is also some of the best years of your life,” he said. 

Marlee Rogers, daughter of Duane and Kim Rogers, is Loyd Star’s salutatorian. 

One of Rogers’ most remarkable achievements was receiving the Outstanding Character award, where the teachers of Loyd Star selected her.

“I am thankful my teachers gave me the honor of having this award, and they believe that I portray the qualities needed to be considered for this award,” Rogers said. 

Rogers would like to thank Mrs. Kristin King for having an impact on her. 

“I have spent a lot of time with Mrs. King, and she is something special.  She is always smiling and cares for all of her students. Mrs. King has brightened up my years at Loyd Star, and I am thankful for her impact on my life,” she said. 

Rogers plans to attend Mississippi College after receiving the Dean’s Scholarship, Select Scholars, Mississippi Scholars and the Visit Scholarship. She is taking the chemistry and pre-dental route with her academics. 

Virginia Fortenberry secured the title of Lawrence County High School’s Valedictorian. 

Fortenberry, daughter of Robert and Andrea Fortenberry, was born and raised in New Hebron. She attended New Hebron Attendance Center and Lawrence County High School.

Being a part of the softball team played into one of her most outstanding achievements. Along with softball, Fortenberry also cheered for Lawrence County High. 

“One of my greatest achievements was maintaining my grades while playing softball and cheering. That’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m pretty proud of myself,” Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry has accepted the Presidential Scholarship at Jones College, where she will attend the fall to study biological sciences. Her career path is currently undecided, although she would like to work in the medical field. 

Fortenberry would like to thank her English III and IV teacher, Janie Blakeney. 

“She not only taught us how to be good students but also good people. She encouraged us to work hard and never give up. She impacted my life more than she will ever know!” Fortenberry said.

Lawrence County High School’s Salutatorian is Gabriella Mulligan. She is the daughter of Shannon and Vicki Mulligan and grew up in Jayess, Mississippi. She was homeschooled until the fourth grade and then attended Topeka Tilton Attendance Center and Lawrence County High. 

At Lawrence County High, Mulligan participated in Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Make A Wish, History Club, ACT 25+ Club, marching and concert bands, and archery.

“I had a great experience participating in them and made many friends through being in these clubs and sports.” She said. 

Mulligan plans to attend Mississippi College on a pre-med track with ACT, band and archery scholarships. 

To her fellow LCHS students, Gabriella advises, “Whatever you choose to do in your life, do it to the best of your ability. You are only limited by your own ability to succeed!” 

West Lincoln announced its valedictorian to be Lorelai Langley, daughter of Marty Langley and Rachel Case.  Langley considers one of her greatest achievements outside of academics to be keeping the same friend group during her time at West Lincoln. 

“We have all stuck together and kept a close bond since kindergarten, and I truly believe we will keep this friendship for years to come even when we are off on our own, separate endeavors,” she said.

During high school, Langley was a member of the Green Line Dance Team, took part in Senior Beta, Student Council, FCA, the Academic Team, and was the manager for the baseball team.

“I have such great memories from all of these activities, and I will certainly miss them and the people that were a part of each different organization,” Langley said. 

Langley was awarded the Frank and Evelyn Oswalt scholarship from Co-Lin, the Mississippi Scholars Scholarship sponsored by the Rotary Club, and an ACT scholarship to attend Co-Lin in the fall. 

West Lincoln’s Salutatorian is Spencer Maxwell, son of Tom and Angel Maxwell. He began his educational journey at North Pike before transferring to West Lincoln in the sixth grade. 

During high school, Maxwell played soccer, baseball and basketball and was on the fishing team. 

One of his greatest achievements was that he was only one of two students from Mississippi selected for the 2021 Bassmaster All-State Fishing Team. 

“I loved being on the fishing all four years of high school, and my favorite memory was when I got second place in a tournament in which I fished alone, and it was just days after I had a tragic injury to my face,” Maxwell said. 

In remembrance of his time on the West Lincoln Fishing team, Maxwell would like to honor his mother, Angel.

“She was always there for me when I needed anything. She started the fishing team four years ago because I really enjoy fishing. I am really grateful for the memories I made in my four years of being on the fishing team. It was a lot of fun,” he said. 

Maxwell plans to attend Southwest Community College to study accounting after receiving scholarships from Dixie Youth Baseball, MS B.A.S.S. High School Nation, West Lincoln Booster Club, Full ACT Academic Scholarship and MS Scholars. 

Maxwell advises his fellow Bears to not blink, because high school flies by.

“I know you hear it often, but it really is true. Stay focused on school and strive for success, and have fun while doing it.” He said. 

Wesson’s Larson Lewis, son of Russ and Amy Lewis, secured the school’s valedictorian title. Besides attending West Lauderdale for junior high, he has been attending Wesson Attendance Center for the remainder of his academic career. 

Lewis participated in basketball, baseball and golf at Wesson. He considers receiving Basketball District Co- MVP and being a Star Student and a Callahan Scholarship recipient to be some of his greatest achievements. 

“They all taught me respect, sportsmanship and teamwork.” He said. 

Lewis plans to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College and transfer to Mississippi State to pursue a career in the medical field. 

He thanked all of his teachers at Wesson for being willing to help with his success. He also thanked his coach, Rusty Newman, for helping him become the man he is today. 

Wesson’s salutatorian was Kayla Barfield. Valedictorian for Enterprise Attendance Center was Hib Johnson and salutatorian was Kadence Regouffre. These students could not be reached for comments.

Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven has just announced their valedictorian to be Sydney Harrison and salutatorian to be Callie Matthews. 


Story by Emmaline Wolfe.