Sixth in a series
With their high school years and summer days now behind them, Hobbton High School’s valedictorian, Casey Hobbs, and salutatorian, McKenna Smith, are beginning their freshman year of college this week. However, before they headed off to continue their education, the two took time to reflect on the their senior year of high school and share their exciting plans for the future.
Like true top students, both Hobbs and Smith excelled in academics and were very active in their school, playing sports and participating in a variety of clubs.
“My favorite subject was math,” shared Hobbs. “I liked that in every lesson you could always verify your solution. It was also just easy for me to understand.”
“I really enjoyed math,” agreed Smith, listing calculus, algebra, and geometry as her favorite classes. “I always enjoyed my math teachers and it (math) kept me busy. It was a challenge.”
In addition to excelling in their classes, both girls were athletes, performing well on the court and on the field. Hobbs played volleyball, basketball, and softball all four years at Hobbton while Smith played soccer and volleyball her entire high school career.
In school, Hobbs also participated in Beta Club, FFA, drama club, and HOSA. In addition to Beta Club, Smith was active in Hobbton’s SGA and FBLA.
When she wasn’t busy studying or practicing, Hobbs did a lot of community service, working with Relay for Life, Victory Junction, and Me Fine. She also took dance from the time she was 5 years old.
Smith shared that outside of school she was involved in the youth group at her church, Stone’s Creek Church in Benson.
As the two recalled life pre-graduation, both Hobbs and Smith noted specific aspects about Hobbton High that they already miss.
“I love the small town atmosphere,” said Hobbs, mentioning that though Hobbton is a “very diverse school,” the students often “pulled together in times of need.”
“It’s also an older school so it harbors a lot of memories for a lot of people,” Hobbs added.
“I liked how everybody knew each other,” Smith shared, agreeing with Hobbs that Hobbton has a “diverse” student population. “But there wasn’t many cliques…It made getting up and going to school a lot easier.”
“I’ll miss the personal relationships with teachers,” added Smith. “A lot of the teachers at Hobbton are young and were really relatable.”
When asked about a favorite teacher, Smith acknowledged that it was hard to choose just one, but she settled on Hobbton High Family and Consumer Science teacher Amy Johnson, who also happens to be Smith’s aunt and “one of my best friends,” she said.
“She had a huge impact on my high school experience. I don’t know if I would have made it through without her. I could always go to her for help,” said Smith, noting that she mentioned Johnson in her graduation speech.
Smith also listed Hobbton High English teacher Frances Pate as another favorite teacher.
“If you sit down and have a real conversation with her, she’s a lot of help,” said Smith. “She gave me a lot of pointers…No one who has her will ever forget her.”
For Hobbs, Hobbton High English teacher Candace Warren had a part in making her high school experience special. “She was definitely my favorite teacher. She was a great teacher, mentor, and friend.”
While they may find themselves a little homesick for Hobbton and the people there, Hobbs and Smith have many good memories from high school to be thankful for, too.
“There’s so many, all very memorable,” said Hobbs as she narrowed down her favorite memory from her senior year. “I’d have to say senior nights…We created lots of memories all the way from spirit week to spring break.”
“Senior prom was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had,” Smith said, “but also senior Fridays during the last six weeks of school. We got to spend a lot of time with each other which brought us a lot closer.”
“As cliche’ as it may sound, it was life-changing. It made me who I am today,” Hobbs added, describing her high school experience. “There were so many good times; it’s hard to leave all that behind. I’d go back in a second if I could.”
“It definitely had its ups and downs, but I don’t think I’ll ever look back and tell anyone that I hated high school,” noted Smith. “I learned a lot, and even though it wasn’t always easy, there’s not anything that I’m going to regret.”
While looking back on high school is bittersweet, Hobbs and Smith are excited as they look forward to the start of their first year of college.
Hobbs is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall where she is planning to pursue a degree in nursing “I want to be a physician’s assistant,” she shared, adding that she is particularly interested in pediatrics.
“I’ve always wanted to go there (UNC-CH) but never thought I’d have the opportunity,” continued Hobbs, “so when the opportunity arose, every once of my being was telling me to jump on it, go for it.”
Smith will be attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington this fall, and although she isn’t sure exactly what she wants to major in yet, she is considering a degree in art. “There’s a lot of things you can do with it,” she noted, mentioning that she is interested in architecture and landscape design.
Like Hobbs, Smith has always wanted to go to her school of choice. “My older sister went to Wilmington,” she shared. “She’s not the only reason I wanted to go there, but I have always looked up to her.”
As they start the next chapter in their lives, both girls offered advice to rising seniors who will be starting their final year of high school next week.
“Take advantage of the time you have,” urged Smith, noting that “life gets a lot more stressful after high school.”
Smith also encouraged seniors to treasure the people around them. “You’re never going to see some of these people afterwards,” she pointed out. “I’m already missing people, even ones that maybe I didn’t talk to every day but that I saw every day in the halls.”
“I thought it (high school) would never end. I wanted high school to be over,” Smith added, “but now that I’m out, I could go back another year.”
“Don’t rush your time. Live every moment, every night, and every senior activity to the limit. Those are the memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime,” stressed Hobbs. “You’re going to to be ready to get out and spread your wings, but it (high school) will fly by and you’re going to miss it dearly.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.