Potter Wins Junior Builders Cup
Pinecrest High School senior Meredith Potter on Wednesday received the Junior Builders Cup Award and a $2,500 scholarship from the Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills.
Potter was one of four seniors -- one from each of the county's high schools -- nominated for the award. All were on hand for the award luncheon at National Golf Club.
The Junior Builders Cup is given to the "outstanding graduating senior in Moore County" that exemplifies achievement in academics, athletics, school activities and community service.
"I'm just overcome by appreciation," Potter said. "It's a wonderful feeling. It's wonderful to represent such a kind, caring community that's financially helping me and sending me all sorts of well-wishes. Hopefully I do them proud."
The other nominees were Brian Hayes from Union Pines High School, Ben Jackson from The O'Neal School and Casey Smith from North Moore High School. They each received a $1,000 scholarship and honorary plaques from the club.
Mike Thomas, who heads the selection committee, said the choice just gets more and more difficult every year. He said there are really four winners, and the only reason one is chosen is to ensure that each school nominates its most outstanding student.
He thought this year's group may have been the most exceptional in the award's history.
"I'd think you'd have a hard time saying that any other group taken as a whole was any more outstanding than this group," he said.
Potter is the daughter of Andrew and Robyn Potter, of Aberdeen. She has overcome the tragedy of losing her mother, Carole, when she was 13, to assemble an impressive record at Pinecrest that includes a weighted grade point average (GPA) of 5.10 -- third in her class of 353.
She is an International Bacca-laureate Diploma Candidate and has received IB's Junior Scholar Award for Excellence. She was also a semifinalist for the Morehead-Cain scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has even written a 4,000-word thesis on the "effectiveness and appropriateness of civil disobedience."
Potter is a nationally recognized orator and debater, winning competitions all over the country. She and teammate Caleb Frye went undefeated to win the National Forensic League's national debate championship in Las Vegas last year.
She is also a cheerleader and dancer.
Potter served as student body president this year. In addition to the debate team, she's involved in countless clubs and organizations.
She's also an active member of her church and has participated in many mission and service trips.
Potter will attend Yale in the fall and tentatively plans to major in government. After college, she hopes to attend law school at an Ivy League university or abroad in England. She has a keen interest in politics and international relations.
Kristianne Bebout, her IB English IV teacher, wrote that Potter truly is "one of a kind."
"Easily, she is the best overall student and person I have ever had the privilege to instruct, setting the standard for everything written or spoken in class," she wrote. "I know that I can count on Meredith to assist me in and out of class at any time."
Hayes, the son of Kevin and Susan Hayes, of Whispering Pines, is ranked first in his class at Union Pines with a weighted GPA of 5.0. He was named a National Merit Commended Student and an AP Scholar with distinction, and was one of 500 national finalists for the Elks National Foundation Scholarship.
A standout soccer player, Hayes played four years on the Vikings' varsity soccer team and was named captain for his junior and senior seasons. He was an all-conference team selection all four years, and was named to the all-region team three times. He will continue his soccer career at the Division I level at Gardner-Webb University in the fall.
Hayes is president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, student body president, a member of the National Honor Society, and is part of the Senior Mentor Program. He founded and led a daily lunchtime Bible study.
He is an active member of Yates Thagard Baptist Church, where he is heavily involved in the youth group and is a member of a singing ensemble that performs at church and at local nursing homes. A piano player since he was 5, Hayes writes his own Christian praise music.
Hayes has also been involved in numerous community service endeavors, not limited to church mission trips and volunteering.
He plans to major in religious studies and minor in music composition at Gardner-Webb. He hopes to be a minister.
"In my 25-plus years in education, I have never encountered another student who encompasses all the attributes of what is good in the world like Brian Hayes," wrote Union Pines Principal Robin Lea. "I have encountered many students who are gifted academically, others who are talented athletically or are born leaders with strong work ethic and deep convictions. The rarity comes in when you come across a student who encapsulates all of these traits."
Jackson is the son of John and Brenda Jackson, of Rockingham, and a recipient of O'Neal's prestigious Helen Pringle Holmberg Scholarship for ninth through 12th grades.
While O'Neal doesn't rank its students, his 4.22 unweighted GPA puts him near the top of his class. He is an AP Scholar, a member of the Cum Laude and National Honor Societies and a nominee for both the National Honor Society Scholarship and Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the UNC-Chapel Hill.
Jackson has kept busy in athletics, playing varsity soccer, basketball and tennis during his time in high school. He was captain of both the basketball and soccer teams his senior year.
He is a four-year member of the school's Honor Council, serving as president this year. He has also been involved in student government, Key Club and environmental and service projects. He has taken three trips abroad.
He is a member of St. James Church in Hamlet, where he has been an altar server and part of the youth group.
Jackson plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall with an open mind and an undecided major. He said he wants to focus his education around science and math, in which he has excelled throughout high school. He added that he plans to work hard to earn a place in Carolina's honors program.
Lyn Cagle, O'Neal's foreign language chair, has witnessed Jackson's strength of character firsthand in her French classes. While French is not Ben's best subject, Cagle wrote that did not deter him from enrolling in her difficult and demanding French IV class, even though it would be his most challenging course.
"This is a young man in which I have the utmost confidence, for whom I have the utmost respect and who will rise to challenges with dignity and success, all while quietly and unassumingly contributing to the environment in which he moves," she wrote.
Smith is the daughter of Barry and Susan Smith, of Seagrove. The Junior Builders Cup has become a sort of family tradition -- her sister, Carrie, won the award last year.
Smith's weighted GPA of 4.70 places her first in her class at North Moore. Among her many academic accolades, she was a semifinalist for both the Morehead-Cain and Coca-Cola Scholarships, and a Wendy's High School Heisman Nominee winner.
Smith is a gifted volleyball player, playing varsity during grades 10 through 12 and serving as captain. An all-conference award winner, she also played two years on the Junior Olympics team and was a captain. She has also been a coach with the Elise Middle School volleyball team.
She has been very active in student government and was elected as a class officer every year during high school. This past year, she was student body president. She's also president of the school's Beta Club, and participates in several other organizations, including Key Club and Future Business Leaders of America.
In terms of community service, Smith has done a little bit of everything. She has been a Relay for Life volunteer, participates in canned food drives, delivers Thanksgiving dinners to the poor and donates Christmas gifts to needy children.
Smith will enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall and will follow the pre-medical track. majoring in biology. After medical school, she wants to specialize in oncology and and initiate a program to inform financially challenged women about breast cancer and allow free testing.
"Casey is truly an incisive thinker, one who uses her critical thinking skills in ways which reveal her maturity and her dignity," North Moore Principal Scott Absher wrote. "She is conscientious, with a solid work ethic in all that she does. Casey has an ardent desire to learn, and her grades prove that she is in every way a superior student."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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