Julia Roberts Goad
WILLIAMSON - Fifteen local high school students were recognized as the Top of the Class by the Kiwanis Club of Williamson and Alpha Natural Resources.
The Williamson Kiwanis and its partners have sponsored the Top of the Class for 29 years.
Kiwanis President Darrin McCormick said the organization tries to bring together the entire community of the Tug Valley.
“We want everybody in the Valley to realize that when we were at our best, we weren’t divided by a dotted line,” McCormick said. “We recognize achievement on both sides, we are a both sides of the river kind of club.’
Troy Andes, House of Delegates member and Human Resources manager with Alpha Natural Resources, said he has worked in coal for 10 years and has gotten to know the people of the area.
“There is a real sense of community pride and family values here,” Andes said.
Andes gave the young people being recognized some advice about their college careers.
“Education is the great equalizer,” Andes said. “When I went to Virginia Tech, I met students from everywhere, but hard work put us on equal footing. Find something you are involved in, find others who are also involved. Find others who add value to your life.”
He said when Alpha is looking to hire college graduates they look at what they have done in college.
“We look for what you have done above and beyond,” Andes said. “We ask if they were committed to academics but also found time to give back. Develop your work ethic so you are prepared to be a productive employees.”
The students selected as the Top of the Class 2012 were:
From Belfry High School: Arionna Dawn Hatfield, Alicia Anne Justice, Damon Wallace, M’Kayla Hughes, Dakota Lance Lester and Caitlin Woolum; from Mingo Central High School: Christopher Adkins, Victoria Catherine Browning and Whitney Paige Horton; from Phelps High School: Kourtney Morgan Dotson; from Regional Christian School: Megan Danielle Hackney and Joshua Alex Hamilton Stafford; from Sheldon Clark High School: Kevin Richard Mills and Danna LeAnn Spears; and from Tug Valley High School: Asia Salmons.
After competitive review of all the Top of the Class academic achievements, two of this year’s honorees received cash scholarships.
Dakota Lester from Belfry High received a $1,500 scholarship and Kevin Mills from Sheldon Clark High received $750 to be used toward expenses related to attending college.
Two of the students were also selected for the Brook Lawson Scholarship. Mingo County Commission President John Mark Hubbard explained there is an annual golf tourney and a portion of the proceeds fund the scholarship, which pays $750 to students who attend West Virginia University.
James Fugett and Christopher Adkins received those scholarships.
Both McCormick and Andes told the students that no matter where they travel, they should remember their roots.
“There is tremendous opportunity here,” Andes said. “This is a great place to be, your time here has served you well.”
“Go wherever you want to go,” McCormick said. “But remember where you came from.”