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Photo Gallery | Presenting Houston County's 2014 Valedictorians & Salutatorians

HOUSTON COUNTY, GA – The Houston County School System’s Classes of 2014 have announced their valedictorians and salutatorians.  The top graduates are:

  • Houston County High - Valedictorian Willa Wang, Salutatorian Brandon Hancock;
  • Northside High – Valedictorian Austin Maddox, Salutatorian Anna Maddox;
  • Perry High - Valedictorian Bethany Brown, Salutatorian Caroline Tompkins;
  • Veterans High -  Valedictorian Molly Lauritsen, Salutatorian Divine Francis; and
  • Warner Robins High - Valedictorian Brooke Bressler, Salutatorian Jessica Austel.

Commencement ceremonies will be May 23 and 24, 2014.  All ceremonies will be held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry in the Miller-Murphy-Howard Building.  Approximately 1,750 students will graduate.  The graduation schedule follows.

  • Houston County Career Academy, Friday, May 23, 6:00 p.m., about 30 graduates;
  • Warner Robins High School, Friday, May 23, 8:00 p.m., about 382 graduates;
  • Veterans High School, Saturday, May 24, 9:00 a.m., about 297 graduates
  • Perry High School, Saturday, May 24, 12:00 p.m., about 296 graduates;
  • Houston County High School, Saturday, May 24, 3:00 p.m., about 370 graduates;
  • Northside High School, Saturday, May 24, 6:00 p.m., about 357 graduates.

Brief biographies are provided for each valedictorian and salutatorian:

Houston County High Valedictorian, Willa Wang

Willa Wang is the daughter of Li Ma and Lijun Wang.  She is a National Merit Finalist, Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar with Distinction, 2013 ANNpower Fellow, and the Houston County STAR Student.  Willa currently serves as the President of the Houston County Alliance Robotics Team, Senior Class President and Senior Vice President of Beta Club.  She is also actively involved in National Honor Society, Tri-M Honor Society, chorus, the Darfur Dream Team and Helping Out the World (HOW), a club that she founded to promote education both locally and globally.  In addition to being selected as a Georgia’s 20 Under 20 student, Willa attended Georgia Governor’s Honors Program as a Biology Major and Piano Minor.  In addition, she participated in the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program.  She enjoys volunteering at various organizations and events, including Antebellum Grove, Heart of Georgia Hospice and the Houston Medical Center.  Willa has not yet decided which college to attend.

Houston County High Salutatorian, Brandon Hancock

Brandon Hancock is the son of Roger and Christina Hancock and the brother of Taylor.  He is in the Honors Program at Houston County High in addition to taking AP courses. He was a member of the Houston County soccer program for his first two years of high school. Brandon is a member of DECA, FBLA and Beta Club. He will compete in events at state for DECA and FBLA this year.  Brandon was selected to attend the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership program during the summer of his sophomore year. He is a recipient of the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit. He has also volunteered at the Houston Medical Center for the past three summers. Brandon plans to study medicine, but has not yet decided which college to attend.

Northside High Valedictorian, Austin Maddox

Austin Maddox is the son of Jim and Melinda Maddox and the brother of Christopher and Anna Maddox.  He is actively involved in numerous clubs to include Beta Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Junior Octagon International and Math Club.  Austin competed on Northside’s swim team for two years and played on the soccer team for four years.  In addition, he is a member of Thespian Troupe 2892 and, while on the Light Crew, has contributed to many Northside productions including three State Champion One-Act shows.  Austin is an Eagle Ambassador and Senior Class Treasurer.  He was recently named “Mr. Northside.”  Outside of school, he is actively involved in Kappa Alpha Zeta Service Sorority and First Baptist Church Centerville’s youth program.  He was also a 2013 participant in the Governor’s Honors Program in the area of Mathematics.  After his time at Northside, Austin plans to pursue an Industrial Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Northside High Salutatorian, Anna Maddox

Anna Maddox is the daughter of Jim and Melinda Maddox and the sister of Christopher and Austin Maddox.  She is an active member of KAZ Service Sorority, the First Baptist Church of Centerville youth group and the Norcross Soccer Association.  Anna is the Senior Class Secretary and is involved in Beta Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and JOOI.  She is also an Eagle Ambassador, an Optimist Student of the Month and a Golden Eagle nominee.  Anna participated in Northside’s varsity basketball program for two years and has been a four year starter for the Lady Eagles soccer team.  She is going to continue her soccer career at Samford University where she plans to major in nursing.

Perry High Valedictorian, Bethany Brown
Bethany Brown is the daughter of Eddie and Debbie Brown.  She is a member of Symphonic Band and the Panther Regiment Color Guard Captain.  As a member of the Literary Team, Bethany placed at region and state levels for essay writing and extemporaneous speaking.  She also participated in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Student Council, Math League and Arrive Alice.  Bethany was an AP Scholar with Honors, a UGA Certificate of Merit recipient, a Golden Eagle nominee and a Governor’s Honors Program finalist.  She plans on studying medicine after graduation, but has not yet decided which college to attend.

Perry High Salutatorian, Caroline Tompkins

Caroline Tompkins is the daughter of Lee and Paulette Tompkins. Caroline has been an active member of Perry High’s theatre department and was a cast member in the 2013 State Champion production of The Taste of Sunrise. Caroline has served as the President of Beta Club as both a junior and senior.  Additionally, she is a member of National Honor Society and Student Council.  Selected as an ambassador for the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar, Caroline returned to the seminar as a counselor in 2013 and will serve in this capacity again in 2014. She is a recipient of the Georgia Certificate of Merit and has received First Honors all four years. After graduation, Caroline will attend the University of Georgia and plans to major in chemistry and pursue pre-pharmacy.

Veterans High Valedictorian, Molly Lauritsen

Molly Lauritsen is the daughter of Keith and Amy Lauritsen.  Molly is a member of the Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America.  Currently, she serves as the Vice President for Civic and Community Affairs with Kappa Alpha Zeta Community Sorority.  Molly was selected as an Optimist Student of the Month.  As a four year letterman and captain of the Varsity Competition Cheerleaders, Molly has been a member of the 2012 and 2013 AAAA GHSA state cheerleading championship team.   She also serves on the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, a small group of students selected from across the state to discuss how education policy and issues affect students.  She has volunteered her time at events such as the MDA Telethon, Christmas for Kids, Senior Citizen’s Banquet and the St. Jude’s Dream Home Giveaway.  A 2013 University of Georgia Certificate of Merit recipient, Molly plans to attend the University of Georgia and pursue a degree in Pharmacy. 

Veterans High Salutatorian, Divine Francis

Divine is the son of Joseph and Celine Francis.  He is active in the Beta Club, DECA, Spanish Club and currently an officer in the Chemistry Club and National Spanish Honor Society.  He is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, National Technical Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Rho Kappa.  Divine is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a 2011 and 2012 nominee to the prestigious Georgia Governor’s Honors Program.  He volunteers his time as a collaborator in the school’s Warhawk Writing Workshop, as a bingo caller at Antebellum Grove Assisted Living Center and as a “Volunteen” at Houston Healthcare.  He is also an active member of his church, Sacred Heart.  A 2013 Georgia Certificate of Merit recipient, Divine plans to pursue a career in medicine.  

Warner Robins High Valedictorian, Brooke Bressler

Brooke Bressler is the daughter of Kenneth and Laurie Bressler.  In the gifted program, she is an AP Scholar and a recipient of the University of Georgia Merit Award.  She is currently involved with the Beta Club, Math Club, Spanish Club and Academic Team. A four-year member of the Demon Marching Band, she plays the Alto Saxophone. This year she was selected as a band section leader for all Saxophones. Along with working with fellow students, she has worked passionately with third grade students at Russell Elementary School. She has also participated in many service projects and volunteer opportunities to help the local community.  Pre-enrolled in the gifted program and Lead and Serve Community at Georgia Southern University, she plans to major in early childhood with a dream of becoming a leader in Georgia education. She aspires to be a teacher who will make positive changes in the lives of her students.

Warner Robins High Salutatorian, Jessica Austel

Jessica Austel is the daughter of Paul and Lorrie Austel. She is in the gifted program and also takes AP classes. Her extracurricular activities include Beta Club, Freshman Spanish Club, DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Science Club and Student Council. Heavily involved in the chorus program, she has participated in All-State Chorus for four years and District Honor Choir for three years. She volunteers at her church’s addiction recovery program and nursery.  Jessica was also a Governor’s Honor nominee and is an Outstanding Senior.  She plans to study chemistry at Middle Georgia State College her first year, then transfer to the University of Georgia to complete her degree.  Her goal is to become a physician’s assistant. 

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