Top 3 ready for next challenge

Published 12:17 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

Seth Thomas Little

One of six children, Seth Thomas Little, 18, is the valedictorian of the 2016 Davie High graduating class. He is excited to go to the place where it all began, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, because without that place, he wouldn’t be here.

“My parents (Greg and Beth Little) met there and got married at a church on Franklin Street. So if not for UNC, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Little, who has never made a “B,” plans to major in Earth science and math and will room with the number three spot classmate, Jack Robinson. They have been friends since ninth grade.

Little’s unweighted GPA is 4.0 and he was homeschooled by his mom until seventh grade, when he went to North Davie. He laughs when he says he really only went to school half the time.

At Davie, Little was in the Science and Key clubs and was involved in Young Life.

“I really liked Young Life. It was a fun time to worship God and with friends,” he said.

He also played soccer all four years, was on the swim team three years, track two years and has played club soccer since he was about 7. This past year, his team won states and went to Louisiana for nationals. Little had to fly home alone, something he had never done before. He admits he was nervous, but said the gate agents helped him figure it all out.

But most of his time was spent studying and he breezed through a class many consider to be one of the hardest in high school, calculus.

“Ms. (Regina) London made calculus very easy, and she went above and beyond to make sure we understood it.”

He also enjoyed Mr. (James) Dobbins Earth science class so much he decided to major in it.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but Mr. Dobbins’ knowledge and passion inspired me,” he said.

But his biggest inspiration and favorite teacher has been a little closer to home.

“My Mom has really been my favorite teacher. She works full time as a physical therapist and helped raise six kids, and we are all homeschooled. And she always keeps a good attitude,” Little said.

He said both his parents have always been supportive, and he is especially grateful for the lunches they made him every day for school.

The Littles range in age from 13 to 25, and they are a tight-knit family. His speech will be about fun, learning, and relationships, and while he will be a few hours away in Chapel Hill, his heart will be in Mocksville.

“Family matters so much to me. I won’t have a car my first year, but I hope to get rides home to see my family whenever I can,” he said.

Nick Simmons

The number two spot, salutatorian, is occupied by Nick Simmons, son of Martha and Patrick Simmons of Advance. Simmons is Duke-bound and just celebrated his 18th birthday.

He plans to major in economics and public policy with a minor in linguistics but said history has been his favorite subject. When asked if he might go into politics, he said he isn’t sure, but finds it interesting and was excited about recently getting to vote for the first time.

Admittedly a “little stubborn,” Simmons said he is self-motivated, and while he has favorite teachers, including Michelle Shue, Allison Fender, Keith Richter, David Ruemenapp, and Regina London, he said, “Teacher-wise, no one really motivated me. I’m mostly self-motivated. Why not be the best you can be and not waste talent?”

The youngest of his family, Simmons said when he was young and his mom went to a parent-teacher conference at North Davie, one of her concerns was getting him to do his homework. The teacher told her Nick always had all his work done and suggested his mom just stop asking him about it.

“So,” he said, laughing (he laughs a lot), “my Mom would ask my brother, did you do your homework? And she’d ask my sister, did you do your homework? But she wouldn’t ask me.”

Still, he said, his parents and family have always had his back and always been there for him.

At Davie, one of the extracurricular activities he enjoyed most was the Surf board and raising money for the Davie Community Foundation. He said he really likes running and has the stats to prove it: he was the third Davie male to make states in cross-country. He was all conference for two years, was captain of cross country and track this year, and was also on the swim team his sophomore and junior years. He is a member of the National Honor Society and was in the Science Club.

When he isn’t studying or running, Simmons enjoys woodworking. He said he wanted power tools when he was in seventh grade, but his parents thought a 12-year-old with power tools might not be the best idea. When he was about 15, he finally got those power tools and has helped make loft beds, a table, and made a cutting board for his mom for Mother’s Day.

At Duke, he said, he will reunite with one of his best friends, a girl from Texas he met at camp years ago, and one of his suitemates will be a guy he met at another camp when he was younger.

His speech, he said, will be about “looking forward, taking responsibility for the future.”

Jack Robinson

Jack Robinson spends any spare time he has working on the family farm, but knows that is not his destiny.

Robinson, 18, the only child of Kevin and Martha Robinson, will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall and plans to major in biology and become a surgeon, possibly in the military. He has two cousins in the Coast Guard and said their service has inspired him to think about a military career.

At UNC-Ch, he plans to room with Seth Little.

When Robinson was younger, he enjoyed playing football, but said his Mom’s rule was no football until all his homework was done, so he credits her with helping shape his work ethic. However, as he got older, with that groundwork, his motivation came from within, he said.

His favorite teacher at Davie was Regina London, for calculus.

“I needed help in calculus, and she’d come in early or stay late, whatever I needed,” he said.

A sports fanatic, Robinson has played football, baseball, basketball, tennis and done cross country and winter track.

Coach David Koontz, he said, is supportive and encouraging with every cross country runner, even the ones who aren’t the fastest, and Coach Shane Nixon has provided the same support of his tennis players.

With not one “B” on his report card in high school, Robinson is in the student government, National Honor Society, and has been in the Key and Science clubs.

He said in his 18 years, he has never heard his parents say anything negative, so that might explain why, instead of talking about his grades and accomplishments, he wanted to turn the spotlight onto someone else.

“I want to give credit to Logan Prysiazniuk (she occupies the number four spot in the graduating class.) She deserves as much recognition and distinction as we do. She has always been right behind us, and she went to Governor’s School like Seth and I did and is in the honors school at UNC like us.”

Robinson’s speech will be about taking risks in the future and controlling what you can in the present.