Senior Spotlight: Chatham County Schools

Grads from Chatham Central, Jordan-Matthews, Northwood, SAGE Academy reflect on four years

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/7/19

This weekend, hundreds of Chatham County students will be wrapping up their high school careers and turn their tassels at their respective schools’ graduations.

Seniors from Chatham Central, …

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Senior Spotlight: Chatham County Schools

Grads from Chatham Central, Jordan-Matthews, Northwood, SAGE Academy reflect on four years

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This weekend, hundreds of Chatham County students will be wrapping up their high school careers and turn their tassels at their respective schools’ graduations.

Seniors from Chatham Central, Jordan-Matthews and Northwood High School will join their SAGE Academy colleagues, who graduated May 23, as members of Chatham County Schools’ Class of 2019. One member of each school’s graduating class spoke to the News + Record about their experiences and what’s next.

Hayley Mashburn is the senior class vice president at Chatham Central High School. From Bear Creek, she is planning to attend Central Carolina Community College to study cosmetology.

Yuritzi Ocampo Duarte is the student body president at Jordan-Matthews High School. A Siler City native, she is attending UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall to study biology on the pre-med track.

Katie Fuller is the senior class president at Northwood High School. A Pittsboro resident, she is headed to Appalachian State University in Boone in the fall to study political science.

Myleak Thompson is a senior leader at SAGE Academy. A Bear Creek native, he’s currently deciding whether or not to keep working at his job or pursue automotive mechanic education at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford.

How does it feel to finally be graduating?

HM: It feels good. All of my hard work is finally starting to pay off, getting to be done with all of that.

YOD: It’s going to be sad. I know I’ll miss everything, but I’m excited to get into a big city.

KF: It feels really good. I’m excited because I’m definitely ready. It’s been a long year. It’s been good, but I’m ready to move on to college.

MT: It’s a good feeling. I finally made it, it’s what I’ve been looking forward to.

Why are you pursuing the college/career paths that you’ve chosen?

HM: I was planning on being a teacher, but I realized I didn’t want to go to school for four more years. My mom’s best friend does (cosmetology), so I’ve seen her do that throughout the years. CCCC offered the Chatham Promise, so it’s hard to turn down free tuition.

YOD: I’ve always wanted to go to UNC because I know they have one of the better medical schools here in North Carolina. It’s a public school so it will be the cheaper option for me. Since I got a full scholarship there, it will be the best option for me. I’ve always wanted to be some sort of doctor. Either a gynecologist or a pediatrician, something with kids.

KF: I picked App (Appalachian State) because I really like the mountains and I like the school there. I think it has a really personal vibe compared to other universities. Political science because I want to be able to make a difference in the world. I don’t really want to run for office necessarily, but I’d like to do something with a nonprofit to help with issues that I’m passionate about.

MT: I like to work on cars. I’d like to try that out because it would be good to be a mechanic so you can work on your family cars. And if I have something wrong with my own, I can fix it myself, not have to take to anybody else. That’s what I’m planning on.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

HM: Just hanging out with my friends at all the athletic events. All four years I ran cross country. I was always one of the top runners, so it was nice to have a sport I excelled in and being able say I was one of the best.

YOD: Performing at pep rallies as a cheerleader. That whole week was one of the highlights of my high school careers. Just to end it all, I would perform in front of the whole school.

KF: I don’t think I can point to a single one, just being here with my classmates all the time. Maybe football games and dance concerts.

MT: When I was in a cooking class, cooking with my teacher. We made jalapeño poppers, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. We had to look up this recipe, and that’s what our class was looking into, so that’s what we made.

Did you have a favorite class or teacher that you enjoyed?

HM: Probably Ms. (Amy) King’s class. It was a history class, but my favorite subject has always been math. But having her teach me American History 1 and 2 was life-changing. She tried to not only teach us history but lessons of life to take out of high school. We were learning about the history of America while learning stuff that we could take out of the classroom.

YOD: My favorite class was probably AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination). Being in the AVID program, I made a family there. Those classes were one of my favorites because you study each one there and you get help from a lot of different teachers. My favorite teachers were my AVID teachers, Ms. (Elizabeth) Deaton and Mr. (Patrick) Dickerson.

KF: I really liked AP Government with (Skip) Thibault. It’s hard to remember all the classes I took. I also liked Spanish with Señor (Christopher) Lupoli. (They) both care about what they teach and they care about their students a lot. And it’s not like those were boring, lecture-based classes, they were more interactive with discussions.

MT: All the teachers there were nice. They helped you more one-on-one, lots of help, and if you had to catch up, they would help you with it. I had two (favorites), (CTE instructors) Mr. (Walter) Johnson and Ms. (Kendra) Bell. They were like family to me. It was more than school with them. I had that personal connection with them.

What’s been the most important life lesson you’ve learned?

HM: You have to work for what you want. You can’t just sit in class and barely pay attention and expect to get a good grade. You have to put in the work to accomplish what you want.

YOD: Be nice to everybody. That was my thing in high school. I was just nice to everybody and tried to help everybody out. I think that was one of the reasons that my high school experiences was one of the best.

KF: To not go too fast and focus on what’s next all the time. Try to live more in the moment and enjoy what you’re experiencing right now.

MT: To not give up, keep my head up, keep moving.

If you could go talk to yourself as a rising ninth-grader, what would you tell him/her?

HM: You need to study more.

YOD: I would tell myself to have more confidence. I did grow from being a shy kid back then. Now I’m in so many clubs and I did homecoming and sports. It did take a lot for me to get comfortable for that, but having more confidence would have helped me do even more.

KF: I think I’d tell them not to stress out as much, because the little things that you think are going to make or break you aren’t as important as you think all the time in high school. It’s going to end up fine.

MT: I’d advise them to go to SAGE. You get more one-on-one help, and it’s easier to learn quick. The teachers, they take their time working with you.

Zachary Horner can be reached at or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.


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