As the school year winds down and seniors at J.Z. George High School prepare to graduate Friday, May 17, Michael Shute of Greenwood and JaKayla Phillips of Vaiden are still waiting to see who will be valedictorian and salutatorian. The two are separated by a point and neither know how final grades will come down.
“We won’t find out until practice Thursday,” Shute said. “We’re going to the same school, and we get the same amount of money but I’d like to get Valedictorian.”
“I’m okay either way,” Phillips said. “I get scholarships, and I get to make a speech so I’m fine with it. I know that I’ve done my best.”
Shute and Phillips said it has always been a tight race between the two of them. “Since I came here in the seventh grade,” Shute said.
“I’ve always been number one, but last year I kind of slipped, and [Shute] took over and he’s mostly taken over this year. But, we’ll see how it goes. I used to worry and stress myself about but, I know I’ve done my best and I’m okay with it,” Phillips said.
Both are attending Ole Miss in the fall. Shute will major in Homeland Security, and Phillips wants to major in Social Studies Education with a minor in a foreign language. Shute wants to work with the FBI and be a criminal profiler, and Phillips wants to be a teacher.
“I feel like teachers impact the world, and I want to be able to be impactful in someone’s life. I love to learn and I want to help someone learn something a different way,” Phillips said.
Shute is on the baseball team, football team, and is a member of Beta Club. His parents are Tasha and Eddie Shute, and they attend Hillview Baptist.
Phillips is in Art III and is also a member of the Beta Club. Her parents are Cassandra and Rodgenall Phillips. She attends Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Winona.
“I want to thank Dr. [Judy] Henson, Coach [Will] Rodgers and Mrs. Watson. I also want to thank my parents, they’re pretty cool, too,” Shute said.