Bailey, Bennett share top spot as co-valedictorians for class of 2016

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By Kristin Beck

Hard work and dedication. It may sound simple, but becoming the valedictorian for your high school class is far from easy. For Jadyn Bailey and Natalie Bennett, it took years of sacrifice, commitment and prioritizing for them to reach their goal, sharing the title of co-valedictorian for Carroll County High School’s class of 2016.


“It feels pretty great,” Bailey said. “We were both really excited when we found out.”

“It’s a pretty big honor,” Bennett added. “… It’s just something that will last, especially with our names on the wall now. It’s just an honor that will last a lifetime.”

“I agree with Natalie, and I’m also just a very competitive person as well, so that factored into it,” Bailey said.

“Same,” Bennett said with a smile.

Both said it has been their goal since at least the beginning of high school to one day become valedictorian. But in order to achieve it, they had to make sacrifices.

“My friends were like, ‘Let’s go do something this weekend,’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t, I have to study for this test on Monday,’” Bailey said. “Or staying home and reading all the time. It’s a lot of work.”

“In eighth grade, you always want to be in classes with your friends, but freshman year you have to take the harder courses so you didn’t get to be in class with your friends,” Bennett said.

Both students achieved a 4.267 GPA and took Early College classes at JCTC. Bennett took three Advanced Placement courses her senior year, while Bailey took four.

“Both girls are outstanding young ladies,” Counselor Sheree Richter said. “… I am so very proud of their accomplishments and know they will be successful at the post-secondary level.”

Bennett said her hardest class was her AP history class with Bill Varble. “We were required to read a section of a textbook every night and we had daily quizzes, so if you didn’t read them, you didn’t do well on the quiz,” she said. “Then we had two tests every nine weeks, and that consisted of 50 multiple choice and a DBQ [document based question] and an essay so it was really hard.”

In order to excel in the class, Bennett said she made the time to read. “I read that whole textbook. I’ve read a whole textbook in a year.”

Bennett’s favorite class was Misty Buchanan’s JCTC Education 201 course, which was a dual-credit course offered at the high school.

Bailey said her hardest class was a tie between AP calculus with Kyndal Curry and biology at Jefferson Community and Technical College. She tried to drop the calculus class at the beginning of the year, but Curry wouldn’t let her. “I got in there and it wasn’t that bad,” Bailey said. “I’m just not [into] math; it’s not my thing.”

Bailey said retired CCHS teacher Becky Woods tutored her. “She helped me a lot in AP calc, so I took time outside of my stuff I wanted to do and learned it.”

The biology class had Bailey studying for three hours every night before a test.

She said her favorite class was probably Jason Shattuck’s “because he’s a really cool teacher.”

However, Bailey’s favorite teacher was Dawn Newcomer, her fifth-grade teacher at Christian Academy of Carrollton. “She was really inspiring and told us if we wanted to do something, go do it. There’s nothing that can stop you from doing what you want to do.”

Bennett said her favorite teacher was her English teacher and golf coach Tamara Cady. “She helped me a lot with papers and my English classes,” she said.

Bailey and Bennett didn’t just study all the time during their high school careers. They also were student-athletes, were involved in numerous clubs and worked as co-ops their senior year.

Bailey played on the girls golf team for three years, as well as the basketball team her freshman year. She was a member of the Pep Club for four years, member Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County sophomore year, a P-KOM mentor her junior and senior year and a member of the National Honor Society junior and senior year. She also was a co-op at Dow Corning senior year and worked at Hometown Pizza junior and senior year.

Bennett was a two-sport athlete for three years, playing golf and basketball and then basketball only her senior year. She also is very involved at her church, where her dad is pastor, and was a member of Pep Club for four years and the National Honor Society junior and senior year. She was a co-op at North American Stainless senior year.

Bailey was the quality assurance co-op at Dow Corning and discovered her future career during her work there.

“I found out that I want to major in chemistry and actually come back and work at Dow Corning, so that’s pretty much my big lesson from co-oping there.”

Bennett worked in the purchasing department at NAS, but had the opposite reaction as far as her future plans. “I found out I did not want to go into business, but I had great people to work with, so it made it better.”

Bailey said the co-op also taught them a lot about responsibility. “Just having a job where you have to be there.”

Before attending college, Bailey decided to give back to her country by joining the National Guard. She will Bailey will report to basic training in August in Fort Jackson, S.C.

“It’s just always something I wanted to do because, obviously, I didn’t have to do it to get my school paid for because my grades pretty much covered it, but it was something I felt like I should do to help my country and I did it,” she said. “It was actually kind of spontaneous. I got a text from my recruiter one day at work and he said, ‘Are you interested in joining the Guard?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said come meet me at 4, so I met him and decided to sign the papers and go.”

Bailey will attend training one weekend per month in Louisville for six years and then will serve two years of inactive duty.

In January, she will begin classes at Morehead State University and major in chemistry. She said she would definitely recommend students co-op because she had no idea what she wanted to do before she worked at Dow Corning. Co-ops also can tell students what they don’t want to do. “I have a friend who has been wanting to go into business, got a job at NAS in accounting and she hated it, so she found out, ‘This isn’t for me,” where[as] I found out, I love this job, this is what I want to do.”

Bennett will attend University of Cincinnati this fall and major in aerospace engineering.

“I’ve always leaned toward engineering because I’ve always been good at art and I love math, so I kind of combined the two into engineering,” she said. “Then I’ve also liked aircrafts and space. I guess my motto is, if I can’t go there myself, I want to create something that would explore.”

Bailey said it takes hard work, commitment and “a lot of discipline” to become valedictorian. “You have to prioritize: Do I want to take an easy class with my friends or do I want to take a weighted class that’s going to help my GPA?”

Bennett cautioned students to pick and choose their courses wisely, beginning early in their high school careers.

“Don’t overwork yourself,” she said. “Don’t overburden yourself with AP courses, and you have to make sure you plan throughout the years. To get the summa cum laude, you have to have two dual credits and two AP credits. So if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll end up taking all AP courses your senior year trying to get that and then your life would not be fun.”

Bailey and Bennett left the following advice for the underclassmen: “Do what you want to do and prioritize,” Bailey said. “If you want a goal, go for it, because nothing can stop you from reaching your goal.”