Local valedictorians and salutatorians share obstacles of graduating at the top


BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — As high school wraps up for seniors across the nation, local students here in Bay County are especially grateful.

After nearly three years of struggles and obstacles along the way, many seniors still remained at the top of their class.

Monday salutatorians and valedictorians from each high school in the district gathered to share their stories.

Whether that was challenges they faced, who their support system was or other issues they might have faced along the way.

“It really just takes dedication. I had to keep my goal in mind that at the end of this, I wanted to be the valedictorian. And now that it’s happened, it’s just all worth it.” said Mosley High Schools’ Valedictorian Lily Bradford.

Getting to the top of your class is not an easy task, especially with family complications and other obstacles on your plate.

“My mom passing away and a year later having my daughter. The pandemic and the hurricane, all that mixed together and those challenges took a toll on me for a while and I was on the verge of not finishing at all.” said valedictorian at Rosenwald High, Markiah Allen.

Allen said self motivation has been a huge part of her journey.

“I looked at my daughter, and every day I see her smile. She gives me the motivation to keep going. I’m really doing everything for her, to keep that smile on her face and make her happy.” said Allen.

Many contribute their success to their family and their peers.

“Without my friends pushing me and motivating me to do better in my classes and be successful, I don’t think I would be where I am without them.” said Arnold High School Salutatorian, Raymond Steinbrecher.

“Definitely my parents. We spent a lot of time together with the hurricane, which we didn’t expect to. Definitely my friends too, we helped each other out a lot, especially during COVID.” said Rutherford High school Valedictorian, Sarah Leebrick.

Several of these students have also balanced sports, extra curricular and a social life all while staying ahead of their classes.

“One of the most valuable skills I learned throughout my four years was definitely time management. Of course weight lifting took up a lot of time, as did extracurricular. So balancing all three of those areas, and work and homelife and all of that.. Is just a really valuable skill to have going into college.” said Arnold High School Valedictorian, Emma Shockley.

Now as these high school seniors prepare to head off to college, graduations will take place all throughout this month and even some in July.

For a full list of graduation dates, times and locations, you can find that on the Bay District Schools website link below:


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