Local News Articles

Essay Winners Recognized at DeKalb West DARE Graduation

May 22, 2014
Dwayne Page
DARE Essay Winners Jordan Crook and Riley Overstreet
Tish Summers presents check to DARE Essay winner Jordan Crook

Fifth graders at DeKalb West School received pins and certificates during the annual DARE graduation ceremony held Thursday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by DARE Instructor and Chief Deputy Don Adamson of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded. This year's essay winners at DeKalb West School are Jordan Crook and Riley Overstreet . The fifth grade teachers are Jeana Caplinger and Nadina Manganiello.

Crook was the over-all winner and he read his essay during Thursday's program. In addition to the award, prizes, and recognition, Crook gets to keep "Daren the Lion" the DARE Mascot and he received a $50 check from Judge Bratten Cook II, presented in his absence by Tish Summers.

In addition to Sheriff Patrick Ray and Chief Deputy Adamson, others on hand for the ceremony were DeKalb West School Principal Danny Parkerson, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen and employees of the Sheriff's Department

NRCS Starts Signup for Agricultural Lands and Wetland Conservation Easements

May 22, 2014

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Up to $366 million is available nationwide for the purchase of conservation easements on eligible agricultural lands and wetlands.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Tennessee State Conservationist Kevin Brown. “We encourage state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, funds easements for agricultural lands and wetland reserves. Approved agricultural easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
Wetland reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.

Applications are currently being accepted for wetlands reserve easements and will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

Applications must be submitted to Tennessee NRCS by June 6, 2014. Applications are available at local USDA Service Center and at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted

Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August. The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/farmbill.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
Learn more about the Farm Bill at www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.

DARE Graduation Held at Northside Elementary School

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tish Summers, Chief Deputy Don Adamson, DARE Essay winner Mallori Hart, Sheriff Patrick Ray
DARE Class Essay Winners at Northside Elementary School

Fifth graders at Northside Elementary School received pins and certificates during the annual DARE graduation ceremony held Wednesday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by DARE Instructor and Chief Deputy Don Adamson of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded. This year's essay winners at Northside are:

Sofia Amaya from Amy Raymond's class

Eli Judkins from Amanda Griffith's class

Leah Davis from Carrie Gottlied's class

Avery Valdez from Ginger Wenger's class

Mallori Hart from Alisha Day's class

Kiley Staley from Mary Ann Blair's class

Emma Jennings from Melissa Hale's class

Monica Carlton from January Agee's class

Mallori Hart was the over-all winner and she read her essay during Wednesday's program. In addition to the award, prizes, and recognition, Hart gets to keep "Daren the Lion" the DARE Mascot. Tish Summers presented Hart a check for $50 on behalf of General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II, who was unable to attend.

DARE is a cooperative effort by the DeKalb Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County School System, parents, and the community.

Other officials present for the ceremony were Northside Principal Dr. Gayle Redmon, Guidance Counselor Dr. Linda Bush, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Trustee Sean Driver, and Tish Summers on behalf of Judge Cook. Other members of the Sheriff's department were also in attendance along with Sheriff Patrick Ray and Chief Deputy Adamson.

(Top Photo: Tish Summers presents check on behalf of Judge Bratten Cook, II to DARE Essay winner Mallori Hart. Chief Deputy Don Adamson and Sheriff Patrick Ray also pictured)

(Bottom Photo: DARE Class Essay winners: Monica Carlton, Leah Davis, Kiley Staley, Eli Judkins, Sofia Amaya, Emma Jennings, Mallori Hart, and Avery Valdez)

Tigerettes Eliminated from State Softball Tournament

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigerettes were eliminated from the State Softball Tournament at Murfreesboro today (Wednesday) with a 1-0 loss to the Dyersburg Lady Trojans.

Dyersburg scored its only run in the seventh inning on a homerun by Madison Caldwell.

Kayley Caplinger was the losing pitcher. She gave up one run on three hits through seven innings. She struck out four and walked two.

Katie Hall singled for the Tigerettes.

DeKalb County concludes the season with an over-all record of 40-8

Community Urged to Support "Read 20" Initiative

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Read with a Child
Read with a Child Each Day

Have you read with a child today?

It's the most important twenty minutes of your day.

Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life.

The DeKalb County School System seeks to heighten awareness of the importance of reading with a young child over the summer break so they will be better prepared for the start of school in the fall.

"Every year 40% of children walk into kindergarten one to three years behind. But there is something you can do about it," said Gina Arnold, Special Education Supervisor. "We do honor parents as a child's most influential and most loved teacher so for this reason we want to call your awareness to some statistics about early literacy. Students who are not prepared for school usually struggle for years to catch up and many never do. In fact, 50% eventually drop out. However, the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the pre-school years. How young boys and girls spend their time at home predicts success in school. Not your income or your family's background. Effective parents talk and read with their children. They spend time daily sharing learning activities and they limit television and computer games," said Arnold.

It's also a good idea to communicate with the child about what you're reading. "As you read with your child, talk about the characters and what they are doing," said Dr. Danielle Collins, Federal Programs Supervisor. "Nudge comprehension skills by asking simple who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Emphasize the meaning of a story. This is a good age to use books about numbers, colors, geometric shapes, and classifications. Your child will comprehend these concepts more easily when encountering them again," said Collins.

Vocabulary matters too.

"Five year olds typically understand about five thousand words. Yet some children know only a thousand words when they start school," said Arnold. "Vocabulary is an essential pre-reading skill because it links directly with a child's comprehension. Reading many short stories and talking about them helps young children build strong vocabularies," she said.

"Make books a part of your daily routine. The more that books are woven into the children's everyday lives, the more likely they will be to see reading as a pleasure and a gift. This can be incorporated at meal times, in a car, at the child care drop off, at the doctor's office, at a grocery store, at nap time, at the day's end, at bath time, and at bed time," Collins said.

"Read with your child. It's the most important twenty minutes of your day," said Arnold. "Studies show that children must hear and share in hundreds of stories before they are ready to learn to read in school. It is also important for them to talk about what they see every day and to say the sounds of letters that they are learning. For read aloud tips, visit www.readingfoundation.org\parents. Also we will have a link on our www.deKalbschools.net website for summer activities that you can share with your child for reading improvement," Arnold continued.

"Parents you do make the difference. Imagine a kid who practices batting and pitching a ball for an hour every day all summer from the time the child is three until he is eight. Imagine a second child. No practice. No training. He or she has never slipped his or her hand in a baseball glove. Has never ran the bases. Has never swung a bat. Has almost never seen a full game played. Imagine that they turn out the same day for Little League tryouts. The skill level between these two young ball players is like the skill level in reading readiness for our incoming kindergarteners," said Dr. Collins.

Parents are asked to involve your children in summer reading programs at local libraries. Local businesses are also urged to help spread the Read 20 message on their signs and marquees. "As parents are caregivers, you want your children to be happy and successful in school," said Arnold. "Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary will have open libraries this summer. During the weeks that school is first dismissed, May 29 through June 18, there will be morning and afternoon hours at both libraries. Also we encourage students and pre-schoolers to join the summer reading program at the local library. They have a science focus this year. It's called "Fizz, Boom, Read". They are signing up on May 30 and we encourage all kids to get involved in this fun activity. We ask the community to help us with this investment of Read 20. We ask the community to consider on your marquee for your business or your news letter, please encourage parents and remind volunteers to Read 20. When you see Read 20 throughout our community, that is going to remind you how important it is for young children to talk and to read books and to spend time with an adult. We ask that you would consider to read 20 minutes to your child on your business memo. Perhaps on the memo section of your billing. Anything that you can do to help us raise awareness. If you would like to have a yard sign for Read 20 or a chart to hang in your business, please contact the DeKalb Board of Education. Remember, Stop, Drop, and Read to a Child," Arnold concluded.

Former DCHS Students Still Making the Grade at TTU

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Martha Webb and Britney Campbell

The Valedictorian and the Salutatorian from the DCHS class of 2011 are still making the grades at Tennessee Tech University. Britney Campbell, an Education Major, and Martha Webb, a nursing major were initiated into the Honors Society of PHI KAPPA PHI on May 7. The Honors Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society. Tennessee Tech University selects the top 7% of all juniors from all majors to be involved into this honor society.

In 1897 at the University of Maine, ten senior students, two faculty members, and the school president created an honor society that was different from the few others then in existence-one that recognized and honored excellence in all academic disciplines. Under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann, the group formed the Lamba Sigma Eta Society, which was later renamed Phi Kappa Phi from the initial letters of the Greek words forming its adopted motto: Philosophia Krateito Photon, "Let the love of learning rule humanity."

Phi Kappa Phi's mission is "To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."

Tigerettes Shutout in First Round of State Tournament

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigerettes lost to Greenbrier 8 to 0 in the first round of the State Softball Tournament Tuesday in Murfreesboro.

The Tigerettes are scheduled to play again in the loser's bracket today (Wednesday) at around noon at the Starplex in Murfreesboro

Greenbrier scored eight runs on five hits and made one error. The Tigerettes were held scoreless on three hits and made three errors.

Greenbrier scored one run in the first inning, five runs in the fifth, and two runs in the sixth inning.

Kayley Caplinger was the losing pitcher.

Katie Hall, Lauren Colwell, and Shauna Taylor each had a single in the game.

Tigerette Chelsey Brannon Signs with Tennessee Wesleyan

May 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tigerette Chelsey Brannon Signs with Tennessee Wesleyan
Chelsey Brannon with her Tigerette Teammates

DCHS Tigerette Softball standout Chelsey Brannon will play for the Tennessee Wesleyan Lady Bulldogs next season.

A signing ceremony was held Monday afternoon at the DCHS library. Her scholarship award is $58,000 from Tennessee Wesleyan

Brannon's mother, coaches, and fellow players joined her for the signing. "I'm really excited and really thankful and ready to play," said Brannon.

Although she initially didn't have a desire to play college softball, Brannon said she changed her mind after a visit to Tennessee Wesleyan and a little encouragement from one of her high school coaches. " (Assistant Tigerette )Coach Danny Fish recommended it (the school). At first I didn't want to play college softball but later I decided I didn't want to quit. He told me it is a great school and I think it would be a great fit for you so I said okay. We went down for a visit and I fell in love with it," said Brannon.

"We are very excited to be getting Chelsey," said Toby Brooks, Softball Coach at Tennessee Wesleyan. "I've got to come over and see her play quite a few times and we've had her over for a visit. She is a great kid and a great fit and we're really excited to be getting her as an addition to our team next season. We're going to be a very young team next year. We had a big graduating class. We'll have a lot of new kids playing. I really feel like Chelsey can come in and fit right in that mix and contribute early on. She'll be playing as an outfielder for us. We're probably looking at her in left field. I really think she is that prototypical left fielder," added Coach Brooks.

"She is very deserving of this opportunity. Not just because of her playing abilities but she is a good student. A good citizen. A good person," said DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Bond. "She batted fourth for us and played left field for us this year. She came on last year as a player and started hitting the ball real well. She has an on-base percentage of. 585 and her batting average at this point is .377. She has 37 RBI's. She is leading the team in drawing walks at 22 so she has a good eye at the plate and sees the ball real well when it is thrown over in the strike zone. She does a good job of putting the ball in play and when it's not (in the strike zone) she sees it and ends up getting on base with a walk. That's the reason she has a high on-base percentage. She has had only two errors in the outfield, which is good and she has made some fantastic plays," added Coach Bond.

"I am ecstatic. This is more than we could have every imagined," said Chelsey's mother Amanda Brannon. We are just so very thankful that it's all kind of come together at the end and her hard work has paid off. I am just thankful to the coaches for the hard work they have put in and the dedication of the team. I think the girls have really come together this year and worked together when they needed to pull it out. It's been a wonderful season," she said.

Located in Athens, Tennessee, Wesleyan is an NAIA school and a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Coach Brooks is in his eleventh season leading the Lady Bulldogs.

In addition to the $58,000 scholarship from Tennessee Wesleyan, Brannon also received a scholarship from Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Pepsi for $1,000 and the David Wayne Alexander Memorial Scholarship for $1,000 during Monday night's Senior Awards program at DCHS.

(Top photo: Seated: Amanda Brannon, Chelsey Brannon, and Tennessee Wesleyan Coach Toby Brooks. Standing: Assistant Tigerette Coach Melissa Ruch, Coach Danny Bond, and Assistant Coach Danny Fish).

Fifty Four Students Receive Scholarships on DCHS Senior Awards Night

May 20, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mallory Sullivan received the largest single scholarship award of $115,000 from Belmont University
Class of 2014 Scholarship Winners
Kelsi Glenn Receives Perfect Attendance Award

Almost $660,000 in scholarships were awarded to members of the Class of 2014 at DeKalb County High School during Monday night's annual Senior Awards program.

Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations.

Mallory Sullivan received the largest single scholarship award of $115,000 from Belmont University where she will play golf. Kelsi Glenn received a perfect attendance award for not missing a day of school during her four years of high school.

Sullivan was among fifty four students who received scholarships.

Those students and their award amounts listed in alphabetical order according to last names are as follows:

Peter Antoniak: Tennessee Tech University-$20,000

Hannah Ball: DeKalb PTO-$250; Tennessee Tech University-$4,000

Zachary Bandy: Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial-$500

Ashley Barnes: Brandon Elder Scholarship-$4,000; Clyde Thomas Family Trust-$500: Harding University-$38,000; Tennessee Tech University-$20,000

Hudson Beltz: US Army Enlistment-$40,000

Chelsey Brannon: Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Pepsi-$1,000; David Wayne Alexander Memorial-$1,000; Tennessee Wesleyan-$58,000

Erika Brown: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club-$500

Hannah Cantrell: Fraternal Order of Police-$500; US Marine Semper Fidelis Award

James Robert Cantrell: DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship-$500

Taylor Cantrell: DeKalb County Children Service Council Clata Redmon Memorial-$500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750

Kayna Caplinger: MTSU-$8,000

Morgan Clark: Nelda Barnes Memorial-$2,000

Lauren Colwell: Anthony Duane Trapp Memorial- $500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750; Trevecca Nazarene-$40,030

Alexis Cornelius: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Briana Cutliff: DeKalb County Children Service Council Clata Redmon Memorial-$500

Josh Davidson: Mentors Association Scholarship-$5,000

Gatlin Dougherty: Clyde Thomas Family Trust Scholarship-$500

Hunter Eckert: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-$35,200

Sarah Edwards: Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Scholarship-$500; Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship-$500

Alli Emme: Liberty State Bank-$1,000; Smithville Women's Club-$500

Kelsey Evins: DCHS Beta Scholarship-$500; DCHS Literature Club-$500; DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Ned McWherter Scholarship-$24,000; Smithville Rotary Math Award-$100; Vanderbilt University-$40,380

Kalab Ferrell: Class of 1966-$500; Class of 2004-$650; DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Jolly Angels-$2,000; Smithville Rotary Vocational Award-$100

Travis Ferrell: Kenny & Kyle Robinson Memorial-$1,000; Mentors Association Scholarship-$5,000

Conner Giddens: DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$500; MTSU-$12,000; Young Farmers Association-$500

Eli Gill: Leadership DeKalb Award

Kelsi Glenn: Love-Cantrell Funeral Home-$500

Kaylee Hale: Jolly Angels-$2,000

Magan Johnson: Fortis Institute-$9,000

Nicholas Johnson: Fraternal Order of Police-$500

Kaitlynn Jones: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Lauren Lewis: Jolly Angels-$1,000; Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club-$500; US Marines Scholar Award

Eli Lomas: CIC Foundation (Motlow State)- $2,200; DeKalb Community Hospital-$500; US Army Athlete Award

Kelsey MacDonald: Agee Oil- $1,500

Elizabeth Mason: DeKalb PTO-$250: DeKalb Retired Teachers Association-$750; Jolly Angels-$1,000; Tennessee Tech University-$15,000

Ashley Medlin: Love-Cantrell Funeral Home-$500

Brittany Merriman: Dailey & Vincent Scholarship-$1,000

McKenzie Poteete: Central High School Alumni-$5,000; Nell Haas Driver Scholarship-$1,000; US Marines Athlete Award

Laura Reed: First Bank-$500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750; Tennessee Tech University-$8,000; Woodman of the World $50 History Award

Cameron Rhea: US Marines Scholar Award

Courtney Rice: DCHS Literature Club-$500; Kenny & Kyle Robinson Memorial-$1,000; UT Knoxville- $30,280

Ethan Roller: David Wayne Alexander Memorial-$1,000

Samantha Sircy: Jolly Angels-$2,000; Smithville Rotary Club-$750

Emily Snow: Tennessee Tech University-$4,000

Mallory Sullivan: Belmont University-$115,000

Shauna Taylor: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; DeKalb Physicians-$500

Kalynn Thompson: AmVets-$250; AmVets Auxiliary- $250; Brandon Elder Scholarship-$2,000

Jordan Alex Turner: MTSU-$500

Danielle Tyson: Jolly Angels-$4,000; Trevecca Nazarene-$23,500; US Army Athlete Award

Crystal Vickers: Comcast- $1,000; DCHS Beta Scholarship-$500; DCHS Student Council-$200; DTC McAllen Foutch Memorial-$8,000; FCCLA-$250; Jolly Angels-$1,000; Lucille Stewart Memorial-$2,000; DeKalb County Scottish Rite-$1,000; Young Farmers Association-$500

Taylor Youngblood: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Dylan Young: Arizona State-$28,000; Daily & Vincent Scholarship-$1,000

Jordan Wilkins: DCHS Student Council-$200; Allen D. Hooper Memorial-$500; Leadership DeKalb Award

Dillon Williams: US Marines Athlete Award

Justin Wiser: Tennessee Tech University-$800

DCHS Student Earns College Degree Before Graduating High School

May 19, 2014
Dwayne Page
Ashley Barnes
DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps and Director of Schools Mark Willougby with Ashley Barnes at WJLE Monday

Ashley Barnes, the Class of 2014 Salutatorian at DeKalb County High School, took part in her college graduation ceremony almost two weeks ago at Motlow State Community College and Friday she will be celebrating another educational milestone — high school graduation. While the numbers of students participating in dual enrollment has grown in recent years, a means for high school students to transition into college, Barnes is the only student in the history of the school at DCHS to ever have earned a college degree while completing high school credits.

"This has always been my dream. This has always been my goal," said Barnes in an interview with WJLE Monday.

Through dual enrollment, high school students may take one or more college courses for which they will receive both high school and college credits. On Saturday, May 10, Barnes graduated from Motlow with an Associate's Degree in General Studies. " I graduated from Motlow State Community College with an Associate's degree two weeks before my high school graduation (May 23). I am pretty excited about that. I began taking college credit courses when I was fourteen years old and that hard work has paid off. The summer after my freshman year, I just started taking a few classes here and there, doing that for four years. They have all added up. I have sixty three college credit hours. Most of the classes were on-line through Motlow but I did take a few classes through Tennessee Tech and commuted back and forth from Cookeville and the high school. It was dual enrollment, so it counted for high school credit as well," said Barnes.

DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps told WJLE Monday that he is very proud of Barnes and what she has accomplished through this program. "She exemplifies it. She is hard working. I tell my staff, effort. Give me everything you've got that day. Every day is not going to be 100% but Ashley brings it every day. She brings effort. She is a great student. She is what we want representing DeKalb County in these classes. You don't have to worry about her giving up. She is going to keep fighting through. She has taken courses at Tennessee Tech this past semester, chemistry and higher level chemistry that a lot of people would get to and shy away and maybe change their major or go home. But she hasn't done that. She has put her nose to the grindstone and has kept pushing forward," said Principal Cripps.

"What she has been able to achieve is amazing," added Director of Schools Mark Willougby in speaking with WJLE. "She is wonderful. She is intelligent. But she is also hard working. She is determined. She is a role model for all students as well as adults. To accomplish what she has, comes from inside and self determination and having a goal and seeing that through. She could have taken the easy way out but from hearing her speak, you can tell the maturity that she has. She chose to stick to it. A friend of mine, the late Edsel Floyd called it "stickability". Ashley has "stickability"," said Director Willoughby.

Since its beginnings more than a decade ago, DCHS has seen steady growth in the dual enrollment program.. "Ms Helen Lee (former guidance counselor) brought it in probably around 2001 or 2002. We started out with two English courses. That started out with twelve to fifteen students in those classes and we've seen our program grow. Students have the opportunity to gain college credit in over thirty different classes now here at the high school. Our numbers as far as students taking those classes have grown as each year has gone by. In 2011-12 we had 124 students. In 2012-13 we had 190 students and this year we had 196 students taking dual enrollment classes," said Principal Cripps.

Most of the students in the program at DCHS earn their dual credits through Motlow State Community College. "We generally go through Motlow", explained Principal Cripps. They have worked really well with us. To pat DeKalb County on the back, they (Motlow) call us their model school. We've also had some students to go through Chattanooga State and maybe Vol State Community College. We're proud of all the hard work that our students do, because they are the backbone of our school, but we're also proud of the work that Ms Lori Myrick, Ms.Shelly Painter, Ms Kenderly Cripps, Ms Jamie Wright, and Ms Rhonda and all those folks do to get our students in those classes to succeed," he said.

While Barnes has no regrets for pursuing the dual enrollment path, she did have to sacrifice her high school basketball play for most of this past season in order to accomplish her academic goals. " I played basketball until December of my senior year. It came down to the deciding point, do I want to continue to play basketball and theoretically miss this goal by two classes or do I want to give up a sport that I have played for seventeen years and go ahead and take a few more classes and actually achieve this goal, this dream of graduating college before high school?. I love basketball. I love the girls. They are all great. But I had to look at it from this standpoint. In twenty years, when I look back, what is going to help me the most?. Was it going to be academically or sports? From my prospective, that semester of school was more important than a few more weeks of basketball," said Barnes.

As a member of the Class of 2014, Barnes is among students in the "Top Academic Ranking" and she has earned the distinction of being the Class Salutatorian with a 4.0 grade point average. Beginning with the Class of 2014, students must have completed more challenging honors and advanced placement courses in order to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and the top academic ranking. Barnes said she favors the changes. " I like the weighted GPA now. They changed it with our class. It's a lot more beneficial. Granted, it is a lot more difficult but it is rewarding to take the higher level classes and be rewarded for that," Barnes said.

Now that her high school days are almost over, Barnes said she plans to further her education at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. "My Associate's (degree) is in general studies. I took the core classes. I didn't really focus on anything. But when I am technically living on campus, I will be double majoring in Biochemistry and Leadership in Bible at Harding University. I hope to get my Bachelor of Science and then I want to go to pharmacy school and become a clinical pharmacist," she said.

Having reached this important milestone in her life, Barnes encourages other students to do the same. "Anybody can do it. It just takes time and hard work. For anybody who is thinking about dual enrollment, do it. It's worth it. Push yourself. Take the hardest courses. Challenge yourself because it will be worth it in the end," Barnes concluded.

During Monday night's Senior Awards Program at DCHS, Barnes was awarded $62,500 in scholarships including $38,000 from Harding University; $20,000 from Tennessee Tech University; a $4,000 Brandon Elder Scholarship; and $500 from the Clyde Thomas Family Trust Scholarship.

Barnes is the daughter of David and Suzette Barnes of Smithville. Barnes' mother is a seventh grade science teacher at DeKalb Middle School. Ashley also has a ten year old brother who is a fifth grader at Northside Elementary School.


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