Beaufort News

Beaufort County’s valedictorians spill on their hardest classes, best teachers and, ugh, uniforms

Top row, from left: Andrew Boyles, Thomas Heyward Academy; William Lindsay, Beaufort Academy; Sophia Bursch, Beaufort High School; Jurnee Jones, May River High School. Second row, from left: Phillip Evans, Hilton Head Island High School; Jonathon Paul Buck, Battery Creek High School; Meleena Lin, Bluffton High School; Briona Millidge, Whale Branch Early College High School
Top row, from left: Andrew Boyles, Thomas Heyward Academy; William Lindsay, Beaufort Academy; Sophia Bursch, Beaufort High School; Jurnee Jones, May River High School. Second row, from left: Phillip Evans, Hilton Head Island High School; Jonathon Paul Buck, Battery Creek High School; Meleena Lin, Bluffton High School; Briona Millidge, Whale Branch Early College High School Submitted photos

Beaufort County’s top students won’t miss their uniforms.

That was the overwhelming consensus among valedictorians at area high schools, who received questionnaires from The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in the midst of graduation ceremonies last week.

The students reflected on the past four years — calculus tripped up many; friends will be missed the most — and looked toward the next four years. Many are headed to South Carolina colleges; a few are moving out of the South.

Some responses have been edited for length.

Briona Alisc Millidge, Whale Branch Early College High School

College/future plans: Winthrop University

Intended major: elementary education

Favorite high school memory: Being a member of the swim team and winning an event where I was not the favorite. Also, receiving two associate’s degrees from the Technical College of the Lowcountry before I received my high school diploma.

Hardest class: Philosophy 101

Favorite teacher/staff person: Mr. Wheeler, the SC GEAR UP graduation coach and Ms. Brown, school counselor

Favorite extracurricular: A+ Tutoring. I started this volunteer service to mentor and tutor students and assist them with academic tutoring.

What you will miss most about high school: I will miss the free lunch and not having to pay to attend school.

What you will miss least about high school: Having to wear uniforms and some of my immature peers

Phillip Evans, Hilton Head Island High School

College/future plans: Harvard

Intended major: philosophy

First thought when you learned you were valedictorian: Word.

Favorite high school memory: Selling burgers in the media center during lunch time out of a duffel bag with my best friend Kris Geiger.

Hardest class: IB Math HL 2

Favorite teacher/staff person: Mr. A.W. because his class never fails to engage and fascinate me

Favorite extracurricular: Cross Country

What you will miss most about high school: The relationships with my friends and teachers

What you will miss least about high school: Dress code

What is one thing you’d like to change about the world: People’s sense of self doubt

Jonathan Paul Buck, Battery Creek High School

College/future plans: U.S. Naval Academy with aspirations to become a Marine Corps Aviator

Intended major: aerospace engineering

First thought when you learned you were valedictorian: I knew my parents would be very proud

Favorite high school memory: Winning the Battle of the Border football trophy from Whale Branch during my junior year.

Hardest class: AP US History with Mr. Wil Ortiz

Favorite teacher/staff person: Mr. Tony Petrucci

Favorite extracurricular: Soccer

What you will miss most about high school: The people

What you will miss least about high school: Homework

What you’re most looking forward to for college/future: The camaraderie

What is one thing you'd like to change about the world: I wish there wasn’t war.

Jurnee Jones, May River High School

College/future plans: Freshman Richardson Family Scholar at Wofford College

Intended Major: Economics and government, with plans to earn JD/MBA degrees

Favorite high school memory: Being crowned May River’s first Homecoming Queen

Hardest class: AP Chemistry

Favorite teacher/staff person: I wouldn’t be able to choose just one.

Favorite extracurricular: Student Council, the Student Ambassador Program and Varsity Football Cheer

What you will miss most about high school: The inviting atmosphere of May River. I have honestly never been in a school environment where everyone is so connected and supportive.

What you will miss least about high school: Before this school year, I would’ve said waking up early for school, but with the later start-time, that is no longer a pressing issue.

Meleena Lin, Bluffton High School

College/future plans: Tufts University

Intended major: Biomedical engineering

Favorite high school memory: During a physics class, we played with water shooters.

Hardest class: AP Calculus

Favorite teacher/staff person: Ms. Nelson, AP Chem, and Dr. Sandusky, AP Physics

Favorite extracurricular: Youth in Government

What you will miss most about high school: Friends and being really close to family

What you will miss least about high school: Homework!

What you’re most looking forward to for college/future: Having internship opportunities and being in the real world. Also, the freedom.

Sophia Bursch, Beaufort High School

College/future plans: University of South Carolina

Intended najor: exercise science

Favorite high school memory: Singing and playing guitar as a member of the Beaufort High School Voices.

Hardest class: Physics Honors with Mr. Mack

Favorite teacher/staff person: Mrs. Lacombe, English

Favorite extracurricular: Interact Club and National Honor Society

What you will miss most about high school: My friends

What you will miss least about high school: The rules and policies at BHS (uniforms, cellphone policy, etc.)

Andrew Boyles, Thomas Heyward Academy

College/future plans: Charleston Southern University

Intended major: communications

Favorite memory of high school: Bonding with class on our senior cruise to the Bahamas.

Hardest class: Calculus (aka math that was invented by the devil himself)

Favorite teacher/ staff member: Señora Young

Favorite extracurricular: Baseball

What will you miss the most about high school: I will miss the good times that I had with my friends.

What will you miss the least about high school: I will not miss the drama at all.

What are you most looking forward to for college/ future: I am ready to tailgate at the college football games every Saturday.

What is one thing you would change about the world: I wish that there would be no more racism and stereotypes in the world, and that equality and love were spread across the globe.

William Lindsay, Beaufort Academy

College/future plans: University of South Carolina Honors College

Intended major: business economics, maybe engineering

First thought when you learned you were valedictorian: Worried about writing a speech and speaking at graduation

Favorite high school memory: Winning a state championship in tennis my junior year

Hardest class: AP Calculus

Favorite teacher/staff person: Mr. Dalton

Favorite extracurricular: Tennis or basketball

What you will miss most about high school: My class; we have been with each other for years and now we are going our separate ways.

What you will miss least about high school: Being at school for seven straight hours a day

What you’re most looking forward to for college/future: I look forward to meeting new people and exploring my career options. I am also looking forward to seeing Gamecock football win a national championship.

Catherine Casey Sheehan, Hilton Head Preparatory School

College/future plans: Vanderbilt University

Intended major: mathematics and studio art

Favorite high school memory: It’s difficult to pick favorites, but something that I will always remember is standing beside my teammates at midfield of the soccer field, singing along to Mrs. Ham’s rendition of national anthem before every game.

Hardest class: Western Civilizations with Mr. VanGronigen

Favorite teacher/staff person: Rather than picking a single favorite, I figured I’d share my appreciation for the entire math department at Prep. After having Dr. Sulek for one year, Mrs. Clark for one year, and Mrs. Dowell for two, I feel not only well-prepared but excited for whatever mathematical challenges are thrown my way next year.

Favorite extracurricular: Playing varsity basketball with a fun team and great coaches!

What you will miss most about high school: I will miss going to school in a place where people vacation, making a mess in Mrs. Ramseur’s art room and playing on a team. But when it comes down to it, it’s the people that I will miss the most.

What you will miss least about high school: Uniforms!

John Paul II Catholic School and Hilton Head Christian Academy were unable to send responses as of deadline.

Kelly Meyerhofer: 843-706-8136, @KellyMeyerhofer

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