SA Raiders called to excellence
Published 10:12 am Friday, August 22, 2014
COURTLAND—Between classes on their first day back from vacation, students and teachers of Southampton Academy were called the gymnasium for pep talk from Headmaster Scott Wasdin. He led them to shout:
“We are SA!”
“We are SA!”
Mr. Was, as he asked everyone to call him, directed the students’ attention to the faculty and administrators.
“We have a great team. The teachers are amazing,” he said pointing to them. “They’re rock stars!
“Every person in this room…we care about you. We love you. We’re going to have your back,” Mr. Was continued. “We take care of our own.”
He urged the students to communicate with the faculty if there’s a problem, because otherwise how could they help.
“Be nice and be helpful,” Mr. Was said, adding that bullying and cruelty wouldn’t be tolerated, and he warned that such transgressors would have to deal with him.
“We have the best campus in the world,” Mr. Was said, and told everyone that the expectations weren’t low or even in “Mediocreville,” but “through the roof!
“Make this the best year ever in school,” he said. “I love you like my own.”
During and after the rally, some of the students and faculty spoke about their summer and school plans.
Hannah Dodson, 12, is an eighth-grader in her first year at SA. She and her brother, Tyler Dodson, and stepsister, Kennedi Carr, had transferred from Southampton Middle School.
“My dad said we needed a better education,” she said.
Myrtle Beach and other trips were part of her vacation, and she’s ready for the new school year.
Math and reading are her strong subjects, and Dodson’s also looking forward to learning Spanish.
Speaking of which, Nichole Bottini was in attendance at the rally, of course. She teaches Spanish in grades K-6 and 8-12, as well as cheerleading, and sponsors the school Students Against Destructive Decisions program.
Bottini said much of her summer was spent in cheerleading practice, and that she is definitely ready for the new year.
“It feels good. There are a lot of positive changes,” she said. “It’s a really, positive, positive atmosphere. It’s awesome.”
Morgan Trahan, an 11th-grader, said the highlights of the summer were getting her wisdom teeth removed and learning to drive. Rickia Sykes, also a junior, got to go on a cruise to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.
Both said they’re excited about school.
Morgan aims to get better grades, and is interested in biology. Rickia would like to have a career in some branch of science.
Chad Bowers and Caleb Bradshaw, both 16, each worked over the summer. Chad said he did manual labor at the Franklin Airport. Caleb was either at the school cleaning and painting or training for the football season. Though the team has lost some members to graduation, new ones have joined, and Bradshaw’s confident in the team’s strength this season.
Bowers said he’ll set realistic goals for himself in school, and Bradshaw’s determined to get all As; for now he hopes to become an urban planner.
Among the seniors sitting on the front bleacher were seniors Kirsten Wachsmann, Masco Barrett, Paul Parker and Colby Blythe.
Barrett and Parker said they each did travel baseball, showcasing their playing abilities before different college scouts.
Both men want to make the sport a career. Blythe mentioned he’s interested in sports medicine.
Wachsmann will be into cheerleading for a school activity. She’s considering early childhood or secondary education for a future career.
Katelyn Holland, a sixth-grader, said she spent her summer playing softball, and plans to play JV basketball this season.
Mason Brown, also a sixth-grader, said he enjoyed going to the Outer Banks and playing laser tag during vacation.
For Debbie Johnson, returning to the school year is like coming home. The dean of students for the middle and upper school has been with SA since 1996. Actually, her time goes back to when she was a sixth-grader in 1969, the year the school opened. After graduating in 1976, Johnson went on to college and first became a juvenile probation counselor.
“After I had my two kids, I went back to Southampton Academy,” she said. “I’ve always loved SA. It’s family-oriented, nurturing and also because it strives for excellence. This is an investment I’ll never regret.”