Merriam-Webster defines valedictorian as “the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises.”
For the Frederick Douglass High School Class of 2015 that person was Darryl Terry, Jr. But in Terry’s case, at least, he was more than the highest ranking student. He was also a role model for others, according to Terry’s Social Studies teacher Benyta Lane.
“He’s very focused and when students see him doing what he needs to do every day, then it gives them something to aspire to” Lane said about Terry, a PBA 30 American Graduate Champion.
As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out.
Lane also said Terry had an “exceptional…work ethic” and that “he embodies what a great student is.”
Terry, a high school athlete who was involved with a number of student organizations, said he knew that school was his ticket to a better life.
“I believe that education is important because it is vital to the success of students overall,” Terry said.
“As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out,” he added.
An Atlanta Public Schools press release said Darryl Terry, Jr. has excelled as a leader throughout his community being selected as Fulton County Youth Commission Rookie of the Year 2013.
Lane explained that the leadership quality mentioned by APS is also something Terry brought to school every day.
“[He] works hard. He plays, he’s popular, the kids like him, but he gets it done and at the end of the day, he’s here to get the job done.”
Terry has his own philosophy when it comes to school and his teachers.
“I alway believed that teachers are there to help you and guide you, but you have to be willing and wanting to do the work,” he said.
Terry is a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta, according to APS. He plans to seek a double major in political science and education, in hopes of becoming an attorney or a politician.
“I believe that through education, the possibilities are limitless.”
PBA's Atlanta Champions