Home Local Sports 18 student-athletes balance grades and sports, serve as junior marshals

18 student-athletes balance grades and sports, serve as junior marshals

Richmond Senior High School's junior marshals (not pictured are Jonathan Rich and Alex Yates).
Contributed photo.

ROCKINGHAM — The customary white dresses and tuxedos normally worn by Richmond Senior High School’s junior marshals were absent at this week’s virtual graduations, but the hard-working students were not.

Richmond held a series of walk-through graduations for the class of 2020 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and accompanying the seniors were 21 members of the class of 2021. 

The junior marshals are the top academic students of the rising senior class based on grade point average. The North Carolina weighted GPA uses a four-point grading system combined with additional points for more rigorous courses.

Head principal Jim Butler said to determine the junior marshals, school officials “review their transcripts for accuracy” before making the announcement. He added that typically “less than two-tenths of a point separates them after three years of high school.”

This year’s junior marshals, in alphabetical order and not by GPA, are: Noah Aiken, Georgia Grace Anderson, Tyler Bittle, Kearston Bruce, Taylor Chappell, Emy Cooley, Macy Faw, Elena Hall, Hunter Hancock, Savanna Harrelson, Hannah Hinshaw, Carson Jordan, Maggi King, Mitchell Massey, River Meacham, Kaicie Medina, Kaylee Parker, Natalie Pattan, Bradford Pittman, Jonathan Rich and Alex Yates.

Of the 21 members this school year, 18 of them are also student-athletes. Butler noted that all the students’ academic efforts were impressive, but also is the fact that most of them balance the rigors of playing sports with their studies.

“It is notable that many athletes are excellent students,” Butler commented. “Academic and athletic success both rely on having commitment, focus, managing time and giving maximum effort. 

“The same can be said for students in chorus, art, and band,” he continued. “Success is more than just talent. It is the willingness to put in the work on the field or in the classroom that creates excellence. Our junior marshals are representative of that hard work and commitment.”

A total of 10 athletic programs are represented by the class of 2021 junior marshals, with four students being multi-sport athletes.


Anderson, Chappell and Cooley are members of the volleyball team, helping give head coach Ashleigh Larsen one of the highest team GPAs in the state.

“I am very proud of the girls for working hard on and off the court,” Larsen said. “They are disciplined to keep up with their grades while giving me 110 percent. They continue to be great role models for the underclassmen.”

Aiken, Meacham and Pittman all play soccer for head coach Chris Larsen, and Pittman is also a member of the tennis team in the spring.

“I’m happy to see the kids not only get recognized for what they do on the field, but also for what they achieve in the classroom,” Chris Larsen said. “It shows the true meaning of what a student-athlete is.”

Faw, Hall and Hinshaw are student-athletes for two-thirds of the school year, cheering on the Richmond football and basketball programs from the sidelines. Medina, Parker and Pattan all were first-year tennis players for coach Neely Herndon last fall.

Joining Pittman as multi-sport athletes are Hancock (baseball and bowling) and Jordan (cross country and wrestling). Massey is one of the top contributors on the bowling team, Rich has been the No. 1 boys’ golfer the past few seasons and Yates plays tennis for coach Patrick Hope in the spring.

Bruce, a three-year member of the softball team, was in her first varsity season under head coach Mike Way before the coronavirus cut the schedule short. She also joined the tennis team this year.

Butler and other Richmond County Schools officials are holding out hope that the class of 2020 will still be able to have an actual graduation ceremony some time this summer. There is no update at the time of publication.

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Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.