Midway High School’s Valedictorian Ryan Lee and Salutatorian Avery Apperson showed appreciation for support in the close-knit community in northern Sampson County. It’s something they’ll remember as they begin the next chapter in their lives.
“It was an honor and a lot of hard work to get there,” Lee said about being the top student in his class. “But it was something that I’ve been striving for and it felt good to achieve that goal.”
Lee spoke to his classmates about finding a purpose in life.
“Don’t let anyone stop you,” Lee said while referring to his speech about overcoming boundaries. “It was about stepping out of your comfort zone and exceeding your own expectations to do something great.”
At Midway, Lee played varsity baseball and was involved in several organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Bible Club. For Lee, it wasn’t too much of a challenge to juggle multiple obligations.
“Grades and school came first, then athletics and other stuff,” Lee said. “I made sure that I got my work done before I did anything else.”
Lee will attend North Carolina State University to dual major in chemical and paper science engineering. He decided to enter the fields after making a trip to the university.
“With paper science engineering, it’s a very hands-on field and it’s always tangible things,” Lee said. “With chemical engineering, it’s the exact opposite, lot of things are small and microscopic, theoretically. I like having those two to balance each other out.”
He enjoyed making connections inside a small school and town environment. It’s something he’s going to miss about living in the area everyday.
“You had good classmates and really good teachers that were really personable,” Lee said. “They helped you with anything that you had problems with.”
Apperson said she’s looking forward to attending Honors College at East Carolina University (ECU) and enjoying new experiences. It’s something she wasn’t ready for at first.
“I’ve grown to become more excited about it,” Apperson said.
She plans to study public health and attend medical school after earning a degree from ECU. In the future, she would like to become a pediatrician.
“I really like the environment of a hospital and helping other people,” Apperson said. “I decided to become a doctor and help other people out in ways that so many doctors have helped my family.”
For some time, Apperson watched doctors assist her aunt, Kelly Godwin Hinshaw, who passed away from cancer in 2014. She has not earned a degree yet, but she’s already taking action to help people. In late August, Apperson is assisting with a 5K race in memory of her aunt. Funds from the event go toward patients and scholarships.
At the school, Apperson was involved in several organizations and served as captain of the soccer team. She played varsity during her four years at Midway. Attending school in the Midway district, allowed the students to grow up in a close-knit environment where everybody cares for each other. Apperson added that teachers always knew what was going on in her life.
“Growing up in a small class in a small community, really gave me that sense of community where everybody knows each other,” Apperson said.
While addressing her peers from the class of 2015, Apperson focused on the work of the high school’s teachers and their efforts to educate students. In addition, Apperson stressed that students should also give back to the community in the process.
“We should take that and everything that we learned to become whatever we want in life,” she said while mentioning future options such as joining the workforce, military or going to college.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.