Clinton High’s val, sal take look back at high school

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

August 22, 2013

In the midst of enjoying their last summer before heading off to college, Clinton High School’s valedictorian Collin Johnson and salutatorian Joshua Byrd took time to revisit their high school years, sharing what they will miss most about their time at Clinton High and the big dreams they each have for the future.


Collin Johnson

Although he excelled in all his classes, Johnson shared that his favorite subject in high school was history. “I’ve always liked history. There’s always something new to learn, and I have always been interested in seeing how things have changed over time.”

Along with keeping up with his studies, Johnson was also active in a variety of high school activities including sports — specifically soccer and swimming — Beta Club, Key Club, DECA, and the school’s Spanish Honors Society.

Outside of school, the valedictorian attends Emmanuel Baptist Church and is a certified referee through the United States Soccer Association. Refereeing, he said, is something he enjoys doing on the weekends.

Spoken like a true athlete, Johnson noted that participating in sports is one of the things he will miss the most about high school. In fact, when asked to describe his favorite memory from his senior year, he looked no further than the soccer field.

“For me, it was my senior night of soccer,” recalled Johnson. “We beat Northside two to one that night.”

He added that he will also miss his teachers, a group of educators that he feels helped make Clinton High such a special school for him.

“The teachers were great. There were ones that I really clicked with and that I formed relationships with. That’s something that really helps and adds to the learning experience.”

To continue that learning experience, Johnson will attend NC State University in the fall. Although he had previously planned to attend East Carolina University, Johnson, a longtime Wolfpack fan, paid a visit to NC State during his senior year. “I fell in love. I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

He plans to major in human biology and hopes to go on to medical school one day.

When asked what advice he would offer Sampson’s rising seniors, Johnson quickly answered, “Don’t waste time.”

“There are so many things you have to do,” he explained, recalling all of the paperwork that goes along with applying to college and seeking out scholarships. “So many things you have to apply for.”


Joshua Byrd

While thumbing through the pages of history is what suited Johnson, Byrd shared that he favored science and math in high school.

“Especially chemistry,” noted Byrd. “It’s always different, always new every time you study it.”

Although he certainly had his favorite, Byrd said that one of the things he liked about Clinton High was “the wide range of classes we had to choose from. It helped keep school more interesting and exciting.”

Byrd also participated in Beta Club and was an athlete, playing tennis. Along with a fellow student, Byrd organized the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) club at Clinton High.

Outside of school, Byrd attends Clinton Community Church where he is active in the youth and adult praise teams as well as in the church’s youth group. He has also worked as a lifeguard at Kirkwood Pool.

A personable young man, it’s no surprise that Byrd listed the Clinton community as one of the main things he will miss when he is away at college this fall. “I will definitely miss being around everyone here in Clinton, my family, my friends.”

Seeing those friends in their caps and gowns at the school’s graduation ceremony played a big part, Byrd pointed out, in bringing his high school experience to a fully-realized conclusion.

“Graduation was my favorite part of my senior year…It didn’t really click for me that we were graduating until I was at graduation giving my speech and saw everyone in their caps and gowns. That’s when it really hit me.”

Next school year, Byrd will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he plans to major in chemistry. “I hope to go to dental school after that.”

Byrd agreed with the words of wisdom that Johnson had for future high school seniors. “Yeah, building on that, I’d say start early on everything.”

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at