By Tia Lynn Ivey
If the future is female, this year’s crop of top students at Morgan County High School is a testament to that fate. Morgan County High School (MCHS) announced this year’s Valedictorian and two Salutatorians at a special assembly last Friday, Mar. 1.
MCHS Senior Callaway Pederson, 17, earned the top slot of Valedictorian, earning the highest ranking academic achievement for the Class of 2019. Emma Alligood, 17, and Mackenzi Ward were both named Salutatorians after both students tied in grades. The last time MCHS had two salutatorians in the same year was back in 2013.
Superintendent Dr. James Woodard congratulated all three of the honorees for their hard-earned academic achievements.
“We are very proud of our Valedictorian and Salutatorians,” said Woodard. “These students have worked hard to achieve these recognition’s. I applaud their efforts of setting the example for academic achievement.”
Each of the honorees have big plans for the future as they decide upon which career dreams to chase in college.
Callaway Pederson hasn’t decided which college she will attend this Fall, but hopes to enter a study program in public health, environmental health, or medical nutrition. Pederson didn’t set out to become Valedictorian,, but worked hard nonetheless to earn the title.
“It’s exciting,” said Pederson. “I haven’t been working in all my classes trying to be first in my class, I just tried to do my work the best I could.”
Penderson’s best certainly paid off. She is grateful the experience at MCHS, citing positive influence and inspiration from her teachers over the years.
“They would tell me one day I could be valedictorian,” said Penderson. “We have a lot of really great teachers who are really supportive,”
Emma Alligood has set her sights on an ambitious career path. She will attend the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Sc. to major in marine biology and oceanography and to minor in political science.
“I’m excited,” said Alligood, who used her time at MCHS to take advantage of all the advance classes she could fit into her schedule.
“I took all the AP classes that I could to challenge myself,” said Alligood. “I worked pretty hard.”
Mackenzie Ward, 17, was taken off guard when she was announced last Friday as one of the Salutatorians.
“I feel very honored. It was definitely a big surprise. I had no clue, but I feel like all my hard work has paid off,” said Ward.
Ward is planning to attend the University of Georgia this fall to study Animal Health in hopes of becoming a veterinarian one day. She believes her time at MCHS inspired her to reach for academic heights.
“The teachers here definitely cared about us and wanted us to succeed,” said Ward. “It was definitely a good experience, too, because our class was really close since we are such a small school and I loved that.”
MCHS Counselor Brian Cook has high hopes for these students, noting they all achieved impressive academic accomplishments thus far.
“Calla, Emma, and Mackenzie are very hard working young ladies that have found great success not only in academics, but in many other aspects of our high school,” said Cook. “Their success is a result of ambition, perseverance, and determination. There are so many opportunities for students at MCHS and these ladies have taken advantage of many of them including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Enrollment, and Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) courses. They are involved in lots of other activities outside of the classroom including school clubs, athletics, Band, Yearbook, and Work Based Learning. All three students are not only great students, but they are all-around outstanding people.”