Whiteville Optimists honor 10 outstanding seniors
Earlier this month, 10 high school seniors were recognized by the Whiteville Optimist Club as “outstanding youth” for their accomplishments in their schools and their standings in their communities.
The club hosted the students, their families and school representatives at a dinner.
Optimist Club President Eric Underwood and Optimist member Don Harritan presided over the annual event.
Columbus Career and College Academy
Jordan Singler is the 17-year-old daughter of Melissa Singler and Michael Singler.
“It feels nice to see that all of my hard work has paid off,” she said. “When you’re working really hard and stay up all night, studying begins to feel tiresome. Then you are recognized for it and you can finally see that other people are actually noticing all of this hard work.”
She is president of her school’s National Honor Society and is a member of the science club. A participant in the annual Science Olympiad, she tutors other students in the academic skills lab.
She volunteers at her local PowWow, the Columbus County Animal Shelter, the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville.
She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and was selected to join Phi Theta Kappa at Southeastern Community College.
Chemistry is her favorite class because of the challenges it provides.
She wants to attend UNC-Greensboro to major in biology.
“I plan to become a molecular biologist or a chemist,” she said. “I haven’t decided exactly what I want to be, but I know it will be in the science field.”
She said the most interesting thing about her is “I try to take pride in everything I do. I love that I am able to do all these big things and I love feeling proud of myself. I can even take pride in the little things because these are just as important as the big things.”
Among people who have influenced her is her chemistry teacher Ms. Adams, who “has been a huge influence in my life, not only in my academic career, but also in my everyday life as well.
“She’s taught me to be a better person and to make decisions that I will be happy with because, at the end of the day, you have to live with those decisions.
“Another person who has had an influence on me is my English teacher Mrs. Gore. Mrs. Gore has taught me to find the joy in everything. I have taken this and applied it to nearly every aspect of my life. Mrs. Gore is such a wonderful person. Her presence brings you joy.”
Timoteo Solano is the 18-year-old son of Navor Solano and Verancia Reyes.
“It feels great to be selected,” he said. “I was surprised that out of all the seniors, they chose me. I feel proud of myself. Makes me see how all of the hard work that I have been doing is finally being recognized.”
Solano is active in the masonry skills program at CCCA. He is also active with the green house, drafting and sports clubs.
He likes playing soccer, attending church and running. He loves masonry, even outside of school, and weight training.
He considers the Optimist award one of his top five achievements. Another is his first-place award in the 2015 Masonry Face-off and his fourth-place in the same category at the state level.
“I broke the record at school by laying 440 bricks in an hour,” he said, adding that masonry is his favorite class.
“It does not feel like work. While I’m laying bricks, it feels like an art because I know what I build will stay up for many years.
“When I graduate, I want to give it a shot in the masonry industry and, with time, my goal is to own my own masonry company.”
He said the most interesting thing about him is how much he has grown as a person and “how I overcame the obstacle of starting kindergarten not knowing any English.”
“I believe my parents have been a great influence on me and who I have become,” Solano said. “They taught me that if I want something, I need to work hard for it. Another person who has been a great influence has been my masonry teacher Mr. (Fred) Mason. He has taught me how to lay bricks and also gives me good advice.”
East Columbus High School
Antéja Gore is the 17-year-old daughter of Adrian Batten.
“It is an honor to be selected as an Optimist Outstanding Youth,” said Gore. “It lets me know that my dedication to my success and hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
She is a member of the National Beta Club, the National Honor Society and the Future Business Leaders of America, the latter of which she serves as treasurer.
A member of the ECHS Marching Band, she is senior vice president of the student council.
She is active in her church working with the youth.
She is also a math tutor.
She was a junior marshal and has remained on the principal’s list throughout high school. She received an A.P. English award and has placed second with her artwork at Columbus County Arts Council’s Celebrate the Arts.
Math is her favorite class.
“I have been raised among wonderful mathematicians in my family and have grown to love it.
She wants to attend UNC-Pembroke to major in biology.
“I want to attend dental school to become an orthodontist.”
She said the most interesting thing about her is her love of technology.
“It enhances my ability to keep up with 21st century learning,” she said. “The world is changing and I want to go with the changes.”
She said her chief influences have been the Lord; her pastor, Dr. Richardson; her godmother, CeeGee Richardson; her mother, Adrian Batten; and her siblings, SyAja, Abrien and CeeJai Batten.
“Without these wonderful people in my life, I would be nothing,” she said. “I would not have made it this far without these people in my life.”
Heather King is the 18-year-old daughter of Derek and Pam King.
“It is an honor to be selected as an Optimist Outstanding Youth,” King said. “It feels great because all of my hard work has finally paid off.”
King is active in school with tennis, bowling, band and the National Beta Club.
Outside of school, she attends church at First Baptist of Lake Waccamaw.
She is active with piano competitions and teaches piano as well.
King also enjoys volunteering at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville.
Honors include most valuable player in tennis, secretary of the Beta Club and chief marshal.
She said biology is her favorite class because of the “labs we get to do.”
She wants to attend Campbell University for chemistry.
“I want to become a pharmacist,” she said.
She said the most interesting thing about her is “I have been playing piano for 14 years.
“Music is something I love and I would not be the determined individual I am today without it.
“My mother has influenced me to always do my best. She has always been there to encourage me.”
South Columbus High School
Shay Greene is the 18-year-old daughter of Stacey Williams and Wade Greene.
“It is an amazing honor to be selected as an Optimist Outstanding Youth,” she said. “It’s an honor because it proves that all of my hard work has paid off.”
Greene is a member of the National Honor Society, the National Beta Club and the SCHS Math Team. She was a junior varsity cheerleader her freshman and sophomore years.
She is a member of the youth group at Barefoot Church and works at American Eagle. She tutors students and volunteers at the Columbus County Animal Shelter.
She served as chief marshal, was consistently in the top 2 percent of her class and made the principal’s list every semester.
She was also a UNC-Chapel Hill Morehead-Cain Scholarship nominee.
Chemistry is her favorite class.
“It’s fun, but it is also challenging,” she said.
She wants to attend UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology.
“I was invited to participate in Excel Carolina, a collection of programs including assured admission to their prestigious professional schools, public service opportunities, research and study-abroad fellowships and admission to Honors Carolina,” she said.
She said she wants to become an orthodontist.
Greene said the most interesting thing about her is “I love the Lord. I do everything I can do to please Him.”
She said her mother has been the greatest influence on her.
“She always pushed me to do my best,” Greene said.
John Morgan Lewis
John Morgan Lewis is the 17-year-old son of John and Jami Lewis.
“It’s a great honor to be selected for such a great title,” he said. “It is one I will proudly hold. Not many are selected for such a great achievement and I am even more honored to know that I am one who was.”
At SCHS, he is on the school’s math team and in the AIG program. A member of the National Honor Society, he is secretary of the National Beta Club and was a marshal last year.
Outside of school, he is active with Reclaim Ministries, the Tabor City Baptist Church Youth and the church’s chancel choir.
Lewis also plays tennis and piano.
He attended the N.C. Governor’s School for mathematics and was accepted into the N.C. School of Math and Science’s Summer Ventures program.
He was a Morehead-Cain Scholarship nominee and was awarded the Wendy’s High School Heisman Male Athlete Award at SCHS.
Lewis has been accepted into East Carolina University’s Honors College and is being offered full tuition to ECU.
He is also considering UNC-Chapel Hill or Wake Forest to major in biology.
“I would like to pursue a career in medicine,” he said. “I’m interested in becoming a pediatric psychiatrist.”
He said the most interesting thing about him is “I was voted ‘Most Over-Achieving’ by my senior class peers.”
Lewis said his parents have been his biggest influences.
“(They) have always motivated me to do my best.
He said another influence had been “Anne Jernigan, who allowed me to serve others and to grow in my faith.”
Another influence has been “Melanie Fowler, who allowed me to do my best in the musical arts.”
West Columbus High School
Marvin Edge Jr.
Edge is the 18-year-old son of Marvin and Lynn Edge.
He said it is an “amazing feeling” to be selected as an Optimist Outstanding Youth.
“I am honored and pleased to be one of two outstanding individuals recognized from my school by this wonderful organization.”
Edge participated in varsity football and will play varsity baseball this season. He is lead trumpet in the Viking marching, jazz and concert bands.
He likes to spend time with his family “especially my nephew.” At his church, he is active on the usher board and with the youth choir and praise dance team. He works at Burger King.
A marshal, he is a member of the National Beta Club and the National Society of High School Scholars. He was selected as a Wells Fargo and CCSN Player of the Game.
Edge has also received congratulatory letters for his athletic successes from State Rep. Ken Waddell.
Math is his favorite subject.
“It interacts with your mind and is necessary for our daily lives,” he said.
He said the most interesting thing about him is his maintaining high academic levels while participating in varsity sports, working weekdays and weekends and remaining active with his church and family.
“My parents have been my influences,” he said. “My mother, by showing great support at all of my events. Sometimes she gets loud and starts yelling, but I know that she’s there for me. My father, by molding and guiding me in the tracks of being a respectable, hardworking young man and not having to depend on others. It’s paying off. I love them both for all of their sacrifices and ‘tough love.’ Without them, I don’t know what kind of person I would be today.”
Elkins is the 17-year-old daughter of James and Laura Elkins.
“I feel a great amount of gratitude for this opportunity,” said the senior. “It is a true blessing to represent my community.”
Elkins is active with her school’s Beta Club, FFA and AIG program. She played varsity tennis and participates in the Vikings’ marching, concert and jazz bands.
Outside of school, she is a competitive dancer and pianist. She also competes in tennis tournaments and FFA events.
She enjoys community service and working on mission projects with her church youth group.
The chief marshal, she is also president of the school’s FFA and secretary of the Beta Club.
She is a recipient of the DAR Good Citizenship Award and was a nominee for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead-Cain Scholarship and N.C. State’s Park Scholarship.
“Science is one of my favorite classes because it is a subject I hope to base my career on,” she said.
She would like to attend UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology.
“I hope to one day become a pediatric medical oncologist and treat children with cancer,” she said. “I also hope to do medical missions.”
Elkins said the most interesting thing about her is her desire to travel.
“Even though I love my hometown, I have a passion to travel one day and study abroad to learn about the cultures around the world.”
“I owe all of my success to my mentors, instructors and family because of their never-ending encouragement,” she said. “I also give all the glory to God and His guidance.”
Whiteville High School
Brown is the 17-year-old daughter of Pansy and Paul Todd.
“It is an honor to be selected as an Optimist Outstanding Youth,” she said. “There are a lot of outstanding students in Whiteville and I was chosen out of them. I feel that it is a privilege to be recognized for all of the hard work that I have done over the past years.”
She is a drum major for the band, a cheerleader and a member of the National Honor Society.
She is active in school theatre and will perform in this year’s school musical “Mary Poppins.”
She is also a member of the math, book and art clubs as well as an editor with The News Reporter’s POP! website.
Outside of school, she is active with Teen Court, in her youth group and as assistant director of the church’s choir.
She was a junior marshal and a McDonald’s Student of the Week.
A regular on the school’s principal’s list, she is in the National Honor Society and has been accepted for admission by UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, East Carolina University, Campbell and Lenior-Rhyne.
She wants to attend UNC-Chapel Hill for biogenetics.
“I want to get my medical degree in genetics and pursue a career as a geneticist,” she said.
She said the most interesting thing about her is “Despite all of my extra-curricular activities, I have been able to balance my schedule and maintain my grades.”
“Above all, my parents have influenced me,” she said. “Yes, this is a common answer, but honestly, without their motivation and encouragement, I probably wouldn’t be (answering these questions.) My parents are my biggest fans. They believe in me when I don’t myself.”
Ivey Long is the 16-year-old daughter of Matthew and Francine Long.
“It is humbling to receive this honor,” she said. “Throughout the years, I have worked endlessly in my academics to prepare myself for college.
“I am grateful that others have noticed my efforts and wish to recognize our community’s youth as a whole.”
Active in cross-country and track and field, she is also in the marching band, the winter drum line and the National Honor Society.
Outside of school, she is active with wildlife habitat management and playing piano.
She likes to fish, read and cook.
She was chief marshal this year and first chair percussion in the Coastal Carolina Honors Band. She was named to the all-district cross-country team.
A DAR Good Citizen, she attended N.C. Governor’s School.
She would like to attend UNC-Chapel Hill for microbiology.
“Although I am still undecided, I hope to be a clinical microbiologist working to identify disease-causing organisms,” Long said.
“The most interesting thing about myself is that I was home schooled before starting public school in the eighth grade,” she said.
“While home schooled, I became so excited about new school books that I completed first and second grade in one year. This resulted in me being a senior at the age of 16.
“My parents have influenced me the most,” she said. “Not only have they taught me to be honest and respectful, but they have encouraged me to do my best.
“Coach (Will) Dorn has taught me to face both physical and mental challenges.