Southampton valedictorian focused on future

Published 11:13 am Friday, June 10, 2016

Ann Jackson Edwards’ aim from the time she first stepped into the halls of Southampton High School four years ago was to be her graduating class’ valedictorian. Next Saturday, June 18, she’ll step in front of 170 of her peers and deliver a speech that she hopes will springboard them toward the next chapter of their lives.

“It’s such an amazing thing [to be valedictorian],” Edwards said. “It’s really just a symbol of my hard work paying off.”

Earning the highest grade point average in her class helps, but also being a member of the Southampton chapters of the Key Club and Beta Club, as well as a leader on the Lady Indians’ volleyball team has set Edwards apart. That’s why she’ll be attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University this fall.

Ann Jackson Edwards

Ann Jackson Edwards

“I think it’s my internal drive,” she said. “I’ve grown up in a very educated family, and so that helps to have parents who always pushed me to try my hardest and do my best.”

The youngest of three, Edwards watched her two older brothers graduate from Virginia Tech, so it’s only fitting that she’ll carry on the Hokie family tradition.

“There have been a lot of people in my family who went to there,” she said. “It’s known for its academics, but it’s always been a home to me going to visit them. I only toured two places, and Virginia Tech is the only place I applied. I was very lucky to get in, and now I’m a part of the honor program.”

Edwards will major in management and minor in communications, with hopes of getting a job in hospital administration upon graduating college.

“But that’s up to change because everyone changes their mind just a little bit,” she said. “I might further my education past college and get an MBA or go to law school. I just want to surround myself with good people and good influences so that I can maintain my grades and hopefully graduate with honors.”

Southampton principal Allene Atkinson heaped much praise upon Edwards, though as a UVa. fan joked that she was none too keen on the fact that her district’s prized pupil would be furthering her education at a rival school.

“She is a remarkable young lady,” Atkinson said. “From the time she began high school, she has carried herself with integrity. She has done the best she could while taking the most rigorous schedule that we have. She is a leader and she’s just got so much potential.”

“But it’s not just Ann, either. This class is filled with so many more with just as much potential and just as much ability to contribute to society,” she continued. “There are 84 honor graduates that have been accepted to 72 schools across the nation. We have one going to California and one to Texas and some to the military. I’m super proud of this group. If you got a chance to talk to each young person, you would find that each one is going to make it. They don’t have to be the top, but they have so much leadership ability. They are caring individuals. They are an absolute joy to be around.”

Edwards’ speech will only highlight Atkinson’s thoughts.

“It’s really focused on the whole class and our future, but I tried to throw a little bit of humor into it so that nobody falls asleep,” she said with a smile on her face. “Reflecting and reminiscing on our four years here. I think we’ve left a legacy to work your hardest and push yourself past your boundaries. I mean, we’ve got people going to college across the country and people graduating early to go pursue their goals. You just have to never doubt yourself and your capabilities.”