Top 3 leading Davie High Class of 2018

Published 10:16 am Thursday, June 7, 2018

The top three academic seniors will speak to fellow graduates Saturday morning during the first commencement at the new Farmington Road campus of Davie County High School.

Hannah Noelle Etter is the valedictorian of the first class to graduate from the new Davie High School, but aside from being academically focused, Etter also has a sweet side.

As in cupcakes and cakes.

Etter, daughter of Barry and Angelina Etter of Birchwood Lane, Mocksville, not only works at a local bakery, but she also has her own business baking sugary concoctions. With the nudging and support from her parents, she began promoting her business on social media at age 15. Her parents and siblings have been especially supportive, she said.

“My parents are really protective but they convinced me to start the Facebook page for my cake business. And when they found out about a summer design school program at North Carolina State University, they really encouraged me to do that, and I did and loved it,” she said.

Her older sister, Emma, helped her choose AP classes and encouraged her to take as many classes as she could. When Etter takes her place on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill in August, she will be right up the road from Emma, who is at NC State.

Etter plans to major in business with a focus in urban planning, with her sights set on a career as an architect. She hopes to be able to study abroad while in college.

She has two other siblings, Noah and Abigail.

Etter has lived in Mocksville most of her life and attended William R. Davie, Mocksville Elementary and South Davie. She has been a member of the STAND Club at Davie, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the National Honor Society and in youth at the First Baptist Church of Mocksville. She was a junior marshal in 2017, earned a STEM distinction and is an AP Scholar.

As far back as middle school, on the team of Michael McDougall and Deborah Sponaugle, to Davie and math with Lisa Kenney, English with Donna Dunn, Lynn Wisecarver and Michelle Shue, US history with Sue Clark, psychology with Keith Richter, art with Jessica Allen, and work alongside Karla Freeman in the STAND Club, Etter said her teachers have been supportive of her learning style and helped her form opinions about herself and the world.

“I should thank them all because they’ve all been great,” she said. She said she got her love of art from her grandmother, Marsha, and that she, her grandfather David, and her best friend, Charleigh have helped her become the person she is.

The new school has provided not only an attractive but also safer-feeling learning environment, she said.

“I love all the colors. The steps don’t bother me like I thought they would, and with just one entrance, the school just feels a lot safer.”

To upcoming freshman just beginning high school academics, Etter’s advice is, “Stay motivated. Stay determined and on the right track.”

Avery Boudreau has two families, the one with her mom and sister, and the other one, with dozens of her peers in marching band. The feeling of belonging has provided Boudreau, abandoned as a newborn in China, the foundation needed to help her achieve the position of salutatorian of the 2018 graduating class.

Daughter of Louise and sister of Sarah, Boudreau was born in Nanchang, Jiangxi, adopted at 15 months old, and has lived in New Hampshire, Spruce Pine and in Mocksville since 2011. She picked up a clarinet in sixth grade and has been playing ever since.

“Being in the marching band all four years has been like a family, because you start before school starts, so you get to know each other even before you are in school together,” she said.

Band is where she met one of her best friends, Samantha, who is number three in the graduating class, and it was with the band that one of the highlights of Boudreau’s high school years took place – a trip to Washington, D.C. where the band competed for and won the coveted President’s Cup. She said she would encourage students entering high school to find something they like, band or something else, to complement their academic studies.

“Focus on academics, but find something you like and stick with it. Put your effort into things that interest you.”

Math has been Boudreau’s academic favorite, so it’s only natural she would be planning to major in it at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was one of around 30 students chosen for the Wood Family Scholars program, which helps students select a career path, while offering mentorship and financial assistance.

Boudreau’s interest in math was reinforced last summer when she attended Governor’s School.

“That experience gave me a better understanding of the field and allowed me to explore more topics in mathematics. Also, some of my best and most influential teachers, Lisa Kenney and Teresa Barnhardt, have been my math teachers,” she said.

Boudreau plans to either study statistics to enroll in an actuarial program or study math and business and transfer into a business school.

She said she also enjoyed environmental science class with James Dobbins and history with Keith Richter.

“My teachers have all been great. You can tell by the way they teach that they really want their students to succeed. They are very invested in their students,” she said.

She credits her mom, sister, and her Aunt Irene with her success, because they have always supported her in everything she has done, she said.

“They have sacrificed a lot for my education and to make sure I have the opportunities I have had. My aunt has always been there for us.”

Boudreau attended South Davie. At Davie, she has been in the National Honors Society (president), Environmental Science Club, and Mathematics Club and made All-District Band and was a STEM Distinction graduate. She also enjoys and competes in equestrian eventing and is a member of the Yadkin Valley Hounds Pony Club and is C2 certified in horse management and riding. And if those haven’t kept her busy enough, she is also a Junior Civitan, an American Red Cross Volunteer and in the Ronald McDonald House Club.

Boudreau said she is excited to be part of the first class to graduate from the new high school, continuing an old tradition but also starting a new one.

Ranked third academically in the class of 2018 is Samantha Smith, daughter of Anthony and Ashley Smith of Sheffield Road, Mocksville. In the fall, Smith’s parents will be empty-nesters, as their only child will leave to attend the honors program at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to study applied physics and pre-med.

“As someone who wants to go to medical school, there are many options for undergraduate majors to choose from, but I chose physics because it is a subject that challenges me in a way that other subjects do not,” she said.

It was in an AP physics class with teacher Jacob Narron that Smith discovered her love of a subject that strikes fear in most students.

“I didn’t know until I took his class how much I would enjoy physics. I just fell in love with it,” she said.

The acceptance rate at Georgia Tech for out of state students is fairly low and there is a great deal of competition for admission, Smith said, so she was grateful for letters of recommendation written by Michael Pruitt, assistant principal, and Teresa Barnhardt, math teacher. She said she is excited and ready to explore Atlanta because there is so much to do and see there.

She was also offered admission to NC State, the University of Virginia, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University but ultimately chose Georgia Tech because of their strong academics and a gut feeling that that was where she belonged.

At Davie, Smith received awards at the regional and state level in Science Olympiad and received the character education award as a junior. She also received an award for being an AP Scholar with Distinction and was recognized recently for being a STEM Graduate of Distinction.

She was in the National Honor Society, science club, Youth and Government, and marching band. She attended Governor’s School last year where she studied natural science. She is a Junior Civitan (where she received the Distinguished Service Award), was part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, is a library page at the Davie County Public Library and has been a volunteen through the program at Wake Forest Baptist University Medical Center. It was through that program that Smith realized what area of medicine was best suited to her, and as is the case with physics, it’s not for everyone.

“I want to study oncology. I volunteered in the cancer center and I just felt like I should be a person who can help them. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor but it wasn’t until that that I realized where I belonged.”

When Smith isn’t academically occupied, she enjoys her time in band under the “great teacher,” Andrew Jimeson. She traveled with the band to Chicago for the Thanksgiving parade last year, which she said was a highlight of her time at Davie. She said one of the biggest mistakes young students make when entering high school is “caring so much about getting a perfect score on a test or a high GPA that they don’t think about taking things like band or art. There is a way to find a good balance between an interest and academics.”

Smith is looking forward to sharing the experience of graduation standing next to her friend, Avery Boudreau, and carrying on a family tradition.

“My grandfather, J.T. Smith, was in the first graduating class at the old Davie High, so this will be a whole generational thing.”