Hicky is valedictorian
Misuraca and Ramsey are both 2013 salutatorians
By Stephanie Johns
There will be three students speaking at the Morgan County High School (MCHS) commencement this May: valedictorian Morgan Hicky and salutatorians Jacob Misuraca and McKinlie Ramsey.
Last Wednesday seniors were called to the front of the school and made a path for Dr. Jim Malanowski, principal of MCHS.
Malanowski presented the seniors with their graduation speakers and encouraged the other students to look to the three.
“We just had a conversation about all their hard work that has gone into bringing them to this point,” he said. “Respect that hard work. Admire that hard work and set yourself to do that same kind of work yourself.”
He added that the three students had run through the finish line and encouraged the other students to watch them as role models.
The three students then piled into a limo where their parents awaited. A short ride later they arrived at Madison Chop House Grille for lunch.
Misuraca said that when he learned of his accomplishment, his thought was, “Oh, that’s cool.”
During the ride, though, the three shared smiles and laughs as well as future plans: all three will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall.
Hicky and Ramsey will study business while Misuraca will study engineering.
Ramsey said she decided on attending Tech after talking to her friend, Laura Margaret Burbach.
“She called me – it was really random how she did – she asked me about a chemistry question and then we started talking about Georgia Tech,” she said. “So she made me want to go look at it.”
After seeing it first-hand, Ramsey said it was “perfect.”
“My mind was set and everything,” she said.
Ramsey said she hopes to take part in the Oxford program after her first year at Tech.
Hicky said she liked that she could start business classes her first year at Tech.
While at Tech, Hicky said she plans to take advantage of the many internship opportunities in Atlanta and upon graduation work for Walt Disney World in Florida.
Misuraca said he always has been good at math.
“Engineering was kind of a natural field for me and Georgia Tech is one of the best engineering schools in the country so for me it was kind of an easy choice,” he said.
He later added that he hopes to participate in as many activities as he can while at Tech: from volunteering, to mission work abroad, from studying in Spain to playing club sports to attending athletic events.
When asked how she achieved academic success, Hicky responded, “You just have to be hardworking and make schoolwork a priority.”
She noted that her parents taught her to do her best because that would be enough.
“I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or play with electronics before I finished my homework when I was younger, and now that is a habit,” she shared.
Her parents, Bonnie and Stratton Hicky, noted that they were pleased and relieved that their daughter’s hard work over the past four years was being rewarded.
“Not to mention excited for her,” Stratton shared.
Ramsey suggested that other students develop a variety of skills: good time management skills, good study habits, a good relationship and respect with the teachers and staff of the school, a confidence in your own abilities.
“I’ve seen so many students, particularly girls, who are absolutely brilliant, but they have no confidence in their own intelligence,” she shared. “Consequently they sell themselves short and do not achieve.”
Misuraca’s mom, Debbie, said that Jacob always has been organized. She attributed his success to his study habits and personal drive as well.
His dad, Doug, also credited Jacob’s hard work.
“School came first,” he said. “Everything else came second. Hard work from his mother as well.”
Doug said that Debbie always has been there for Jacob. He cited homework as just one area.
As to their reaction to learning Jacob was one of two salutatorians, Doug said they were “very, very proud” and “really excited.”
Debbie said she knew Jacob had worked hard and that it was a tight race.
“We knew it was such a close race so a tie was really surprising,” she said.
Ramsey’s mom Mary Ellen Ramsey said that she was “really tickled for her.
“As a mom, you always want your kids to get the good things they strive hard for,” she shared. “Hands down, McKinlie is the most driven, self motivated person I know.
Morgan added that the teachers and administrators at MCHS were “helpful and supportive” and that her AP and IB teachers were “instrumental” to her success.
Jacob credited several teachers – more than half a dozen in all – at MCHS as well as his church, Summit Church, Pastor Jeff Rogers, and the youth group there.
McKinlie cited several educators as well as God.
“Without him none of my success would have been possible, and it most certainly would be meaningless,” she shared.
Her mom agreed with her assessment.
“She puts God first and works as if she is working for Him,” she shared. “I would like to take credit for some of her success, but honestly it’s really between Him and her.”
Jacob noted that his parents have encouraged his hard work and have never given him a free ride.
“This helped to show me that I can accomplish amazing things, like this, if I just try my hardest and never give up,” he shared.
McKinlie called her parents her “guardians of accurate perspective.”
“In my moments of insanity, stress, over-motivation, and putting too much pressure on myself, they have calmed me and reminded me that this one test or ranking doesn’t matter in the end,” she said.
Among Morgan’s accomplishments: she is yearbook editor and senior class secretary, she was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” and has taken ballet for eight years.
She’s also a member of the National Honor Society and Y-Club and has attended Georgia Youth Assembly two years as a senator.
“I believe that my experience in the International Baccalaureate Program has really prepared me for college and job/scholarship interviews because I have learned how to study, write research papers, give presentations, and analyse concepts in a manner beyond what is taught in the normal classroom,” she shared.
Malanowski later said that this recognition is both a testament to their hard work as well as “confirmation of how important parental support is to student success.”
“In each of these cases, the parents were firmly behind their child providing them with the support they needed to get where they are,” he said.
He noted that while there were co-valedictorians in the mid-1990s, he was not aware of a time when the school had two salutatorians.
Printed in the March 7, 2013 edition