- Gaston County Schools
Seniors earn academic, perfect attendance honors
May 28, 2021
Contact: Todd Hagans
Chief Communications Officer
Office: (704) 866-6118
Seniors earn top academic, perfect attendance distinctions
Gastonia, N.C. – Gaston County Schools has 22 students in the Class of 2021 who have achieved the top academic distinction of valedictorian or salutatorian. Additionally, one senior in the Class of 2021 has earned the distinction of 13 years of perfect attendance.
Valedictorian and Salutatorian Information
The senior with the highest weighted grade point average (GPA) is selected valedictorian, and the senior with the second-highest weighted GPA is chosen salutatorian.
“We are very proud to recognize 22 graduating seniors in the Class of 2021 as our valedictorians and salutatorians for Gaston County Schools,” said Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker. “These outstanding students have maintained an impressive academic record during their high school career. They also have been excellent leaders and role models at school and in the community. We are extremely confident that these high-achieving students will continue to be successful in everything they choose to do.”
Listed below are the valedictorians and salutatorians for the 11 high schools and biography information for each student.
Ashbrook High School
Valedictorian: Asma Patel
College Plans: UNC-Charlotte to major in biology; plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as an optometrist.
Accolades: Member of the National Honor Society, Civinettes, and Interact Club; involved in the Islamic Society of Gastonia; completing the Gaston College Associate of Arts degree.
Salutatorian: Rachel Lowry
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology; plans to pursue a career as a dermatologist or orthodontist and open her own practice.
Accolades: Scholar-athlete and four-year member of the cross country team, serving as captain this year; Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council; Commissioners’ School of Excellence; N.C. Governor’s School; actively involved as a student, performer, and instructor in all areas of dance; completed 25 college credit hours through the Career and College Promise program at Gaston College.
Bessemer City High School
Valedictorian: Sophia Jewel Foster
College Plans: UNC-Wilmington to major in English and obtain teacher licensure; plans to pursue a career as a high school English teacher and eventually transition to serving as a community college English instructor.
Accolades: Chief junior marshal; recipient of UNC-Wilmington academic scholarship valued at $20,000; nominee for Morehead-Cain, Levine, Park, Tucker, and Ignite scholarships; Most Industrious Award; Marine Scholastic Excellence Award; ABC Underage Prevention Scholarship; First Wesleyan Church Scholarship; first student to earn an associate degree from Gaston College while in high school with 60 hours of college credit; Gaston College President’s List.
Salutatorian: Aleczandria Grace Stinnett
College Plans: University of Georgia to pursue a master’s degree in marketing.
Accolades: Beta Club; National Honor Society; student government, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) president; Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council; volunteer for the Special Olympics, Northwest Ministries, and Levine Children’s Hospital; member of the volleyball and softball teams; Gaston County Schools/Gaston Gazette Star Student; UNC Morehead-Cain Scholarship nominee.
Cherryville High School
Valedictorian: Chase Dylan McNeill
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in history; plans to pursue a law degree.
Accolades: Gaston County Schools/Gaston Gazette Star Student; Dwight H. Harrelson Memorial Scholarship; Cherryville High School Male Scholastic Athlete of the Year.
Salutatorian: Noah Richard Abernethy
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in business; plans to pursue a career in a business-related field.
Accolades: Albert G. Myers Scholarship, Cherryville High School Academic Booster Club Scholarship, Alaina Abernathy Memorial Scholarship.
Stuart W. Cramer High School
Valedictorian: Margaret Kimbirl
College Plans: Maryville College to major in psychology and exercise science; plans to pursue a career as a sports psychiatrist.
Accolades: Captain of the soccer and cross country teams; invited to serve as a McGill Fellow at Maryville College – recipient of the Presidential Scholarship valued at $25,000.
Salutatorian: Layton Miller
College Plans: UNC-Charlotte to major in computer engineering with plans to participate in the Early Entry program to complete a master’s degree in engineering management; plans to pursue a career developing quantum computation for IBM.
Accolades: Accepted into the UNC-Charlotte Honors College and received numerous merit-based scholarships; member of the varsity soccer team for four years – all-conference soccer team honors during junior and senior years.
East Gaston High School
Valedictorian: Caleb Stephen Burr
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in business.
Accolades: Mount Holly Hall of Fame Scholarship; East Gaston Scholastic Athlete of the Year; Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Award; member of the baseball, basketball, and football teams.
Salutatorian: Bianca Azra Rushing
College Plans: N.C. State University to major in computer science.
Accolades: John Philip Sousa Band Award; N.C. State University Academic Enhancement Scholarship; Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics and Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB awards; Physics Honors academic award.
Forestview High School
Valedictorian: Sophie Annice Martin
College Plans: Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee to major in biology and pre-medicine; plans to pursue a career as a dermatologic surgeon or general surgeon.
Accolades: Beta Club; McGill Fellow; and Scots Science Scholar.
Salutatorian: Joshua Abraham Gluck
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology and pre-medicine; plans to pursue a career as a cardiologist.
Accolades: Commissioners’ School of Excellence; Eagle Scout Award; Teens Westward Bound; National German Honor Society; National Honor Society.
Gaston Early College High School
Valedictorian: Genevieve Roberta Starr
College Plans: UNC-Charlotte (Honors College) to major in biology with a concentration in microbiology; plans to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology and work for the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization.
Accolades: Earned an associate of science degree from Gaston College – high honors graduate; Beta Club; technology club.
Salutatorian: Kenneth Khai Nguyen
College Plans: N.C. State University to major in computer engineering; plans to pursue a career as a software engineer.
Accolades: Earned an associate of science degree from Gaston College; N.C. State University Pack Promise Scholarship; Beta Club; coding club; Gaston Early College squad member; Boy Scout; volunteer for the Community Relief Organization in Mount Holly and the Gaston County Public Library in Mount Holly and Stanley.
Highland School of Technology
Valedictorian: Madelyn Grace Van Meter
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology; plans to pursue a career as a physician.
Accolades: Moot court state champion; Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council; Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council; Gaston County Schools/Gaston Gazette Star Student; National Technical Honor Society; Beta Club; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); student council officer; homecoming queen; Earth Club; SAVE/Interact Club; MVP and captain of tennis team; volunteer for Camp Sunshine, Boys and Girls Club, Special Olympics, Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine, and Holy Angels Bowl n’ Bounce.
Salutatorian: Ann McKinney Russell
College Plans: Wake Forest University to major in business and enterprise management; plans to pursue a career as a healthcare attorney.
Accolades: Moot court state champion; Wake Forest Alumni Scholarship; Wake Forest Tribble Scholarship; Teens Changing Gaston; Gaston County Youth Census Committee; finalist for McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge; DAR Good Citizen regional scholarship recipient; Girl Scouts Gold Award; Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council; National Technical Honor Society; Beta Club; N.C. Governor’s School; student council officer; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); cheerleading team captain.
Hunter Huss High School
Valedictorian: Ailysa Lee
College Plans: Appalachian State University to major in exercise science; plans to pursue a career in therapy as an occupational or physical therapist.
Accolades: Junior marshal; N.C. Governor’s School; DAR Outstanding Senior Award.
Salutatorian: Laurynn Thomas
College Plans: Virginia Commonwealth University to major in biochemistry; plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as an emergency room physician.
Accolades: Chosen for the Virginia Commonwealth Honors College.
North Gaston High School
Valedictorian: Kaitlyn Covey Bice
College Plans: University of Central Florida to major in aerospace engineering.
Accolades: National Honor Society; North Gaston leadership team; chief junior marshal; marching band and color guard captain; vice president of the Science Olympiad team and Envirothon club; secretary of the Beta Club; summer research program participant; recipient of awards in color guard, social studies, math, and science; competitive dancer and dance teaching assistant at Heart and Rhythm studio in Dallas.
Salutatorian: Georgia Olivia Queen
College Plans: UNC-Chapel Hill to major in nursing; plans to obtain a doctorate degree and pursue a career as a nurse practitioner.
Accolades: Kelly Guffey Memorial Nursing Scholarship; health science award; varsity cheerleading team member and captain; HOSA club president; student council member; Beta Club; Project Unify; National Honor Society; National Technical Honor Society; junior marshal; Commissioners’ School of Excellence; completed 36 hours of college credit while in high school.
South Point High School
Valedictorian: Sydney Lester
College Plans: Duke University to major in computer science; plans to pursue a career in software engineering.
Accolades: Congressional Award Gold Medal for Volunteer Service; Cancer Services Volunteer of the Year; Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award for Illustration; captain of the swimming team; Gaston County Schools/Gaston Gazette Star Student.
Salutatorian: Grace Nehring
College Plans: Rhodes College to obtain a degree in a STEM-related field and play on the college’s lacrosse team; plans to pursue a career in research or engineering.
Accolades: National Honor Society; all-conference scholar-athlete in tennis; junior marshal; Rhodes College scholarship recipient; National Merit Scholarship valued at $2,500.
▪ Perfect Attendance Information
Each year, the Board of Education honors graduating seniors who achieve perfect attendance for either 12 years or 13 years. One senior in the Gaston County Schools Class of 2021 earned 13 years of perfect attendance for her entire school career (kindergarten through twelfth grade).
Payton Danielle Love of Ashbrook High School achieved 13 years of perfect attendance. She plans to attend North Carolina A&T State University to major in nursing. She receives a perfect attendance plaque from the Gaston County Board of Education in recognition of her outstanding accomplishment.