FHS valedictorian is a part of the Franklin family

Published 10:29 am Friday, June 13, 2014

FRANKLIN—Franklin High School has been like a second home to this year’s valedictorian.

Cheyenne Banks of Franklin enjoyed reading her favorite books in the library. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Cheyenne Banks of Franklin enjoyed reading her favorite books in the library. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Cheyenne Banks, 18, who lives in Franklin near Hunterdale, said most of all she is going to miss the people of the school when she officially graduates tonight at 6 o’clock in the Regional Workforce Center at Paul D. Camp Community College.

“Everyone kind of acted like a family,” she said. “We all kind of knew each other and we could say ‘Hi’ or wave as we passed each other in the hall. You could pretty much talk to anyone about anything.”

The small school atmosphere also helped Banks spread out her interests. She was a cheerleader, a captain on the wrestling team, a soccer player, a tennis player and she participated in many of the clubs.

“If I were in a big school, I wouldn’t have really had that opportunity,” she said.

Banks has been in the Franklin school system ever since she was in pre-school.

“I’m really attached to everybody here because I came through the system,” she said. “It’s been good for me. I wouldn’t have changed it if I could have.”

Banks said she felt like academics and athletics paired well together.

“They were good outlets for when I needed something to do,” she said of playing sports. “I like competing and I like having the team experience and making new friends and meeting new people and going to new places.”

Having that competitive background helped Banks earn the valedictorian spot with a GPA of 4.22. She said it had been really close all year.

“I didn’t really expect to be valedictorian,” she said. “I was trying to go for at least second, but I didn’t know about first. I was kind of just trying to do really well, and it all worked out.

“I was pretty excited and I know my family was excited too. It’s a cool thing.”

It felt particularly good because she knew it meant that she had done well in calculus, her least favorite subject.

“I had been trying really hard to do well in school, especially this year with calculus,” Banks said, adding under her breath. “Because I’m really not that great at math.”

As far as her favorite subjects, she was quick to cite history and the arts.

History is one of her favorites, and she’s actually considering becoming a history teacher.

“I just like to learn about all of the different things that have happened, especially in different countries,” she said. “My favorite history class was probably World History II. We learned a lot about what was happening like in the world wars and what was going on in Europe, cool stuff like that.”

She likes art mainly because it’s fun.

“No, I’m not that good,” Banks said when asked if she’d considered art as a major. “I just like to paint, especially animals.”

Sometimes, pairing sports with academics could be particularly tough, especially in the spring when both soccer and tennis were active.

“Sometimes I’d have to like run straight from one thing to the other, or just kind of slip in late,” she said. “I just made sure I kept up with what I had to do in school, and then I’d work on my homework a lot on the bus, or when I get home.”

Calculus would sometimes rear its ugly head.

“Sometimes, I’d have to stay home from games or practice, mostly to catch up on calculus,” Banks added.

The senior will attend the College of William and Mary in the fall.

“I had known I was going there for a few years,” she said. “My brother goes to school there, and I just really like the campus. It is kind of close but not too close.”

While she’s considering being an educator in history, she also knows there is the possibility to get up there and completely change her mind.

“That’s what I’m thinking at the moment, but I am prepared for that to change,” Banks said. “I hear that happens a lot.”

It’s a little scary to go there, considering none of her classmates are attending, but she’s also looking forward to it.

“I think it is going to be cool to be in a new place,” she said. “But I’m going to have to make new friends. That’s going to be kind of hard because I’ve been here for so long — I haven’t been in a situation like that since pre-school. But it will be cool to meet new people and learn new things especially.”

To help her pay for school, Banks has received several scholarships, most of them local, including awards from the Bronco Federal Credit Union, Paul D. and Ella Camp, the Hunterdale Ruritans and the Walter Rawls Educational Fund. She was particularly appreciative to her community for helping her.

Banks said this summer she’d stay around town and work with the Western Tidewater Wrestling Club.

“We are still having practices, matches and things like that,” she said. “So, I’ll probably just be a local and stay to help out.”

Outside of sports and academics, Banks said she loved reading, watching movies and being out in nature.

“Sometimes I really like to go outside and read,” she said. “I’ve always been a big reader ever since I was younger. In elementary school we used to do the AR reading thing where you would get points if you would take quizzes on the books. It was pretty cool because you would get prizes.”

Banks said reading is fun because of where it takes your imagination.

“It is really interesting,” she said. “You can read about something completely different than what could happen in real life.”

To the Franklin system, from the teachers, the coaches, the principals and even the students, Banks said she was extremely grateful.

“Because of the small atmosphere we are all really close, and they are all really nice and helpful,” she said. “I owe a lot to them, you know, because they really taught me everything I know, since I’ve been here my entire school career. They’re all great people, and I’m going to miss them.”