By Kaitlin Fleming, Staff Correspondent
Several Etowah High School seniors received awards and scholarships on May 18. In total, the students received $2.2 million dollars in scholarships. Of all 134 students graduating from Etowah High, six are entering the U.S. military.
One of the scholarship recipients was Peyton Laughlin, who received admission into the United States Military Academy at West Point. U.S. Representative Robert Adherholt nominated Laughlin as the Principal Nomination Recipient for District 4 of Alabama.
Despite the fact that Laughlin has been an active cadet with the Etowah High School Army JROTC program where he has served as an officer, battalion commander, color guard commander, and rifle team captain, and despite the fact that he will be graduating 10th in his class with a weighted GPA of 101.65, Laughlin said it took more than one attempt to get accepted into West Point. Senator Aderholt’s nomination was the last little push Laughlin needed to gain admission.
“I applied and waited for a response,” said Laughlin. “I kept checking my online West Point profile, like every single day. Then one day, my mom and I were going to Mater’s Pizza. She was driving and I was on my phone. I logged into my West Point profile and saw that my status was ‘accepted,’ and I think I scared my mom when I screamed. We pulled over and called my step-dad at work. We hugged and cried.”
Laughlin has big plans for his future. He wants to become a general and he hopes to one day be the president of the Unite States. He looks up to U.S. Army General George Patton.
“I’m a little nervous, but I am also really excited,” said Laughlin.
Laughlin will be starting at West Point on June 30. He plans to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Defense and Strategic Studies. Upon graduation, Laughlin will be commissioned in the United States Army, where he hopes to serve his country for at least 30 years.
Laughlin isn’t the only Etowah High School student doing incredible things.
Kaitlyn Bailey, has accomplished something extraordinary. On top of the stress of being in high school, Bailey has been taking college classes through the ACE Institute with Gadsden State Community College and has completed the requirements for her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies. Once she graduates high school, her degree will be officially completed.
Bailey, who walked at Gadsden State’s Spring Commencement ceremony, said that her friends are proud of her.
“They’re really proud and happy for me. As soon as graduation is over, I plan on spending time with them. I haven’t had much time in the past two years to be with them.”
Bailey started taking duel enrollment classes at Etowah at the end of her sophomore year.
“The hardest part was that college professors grade a lot harder,” said Bailey. “I think because in the paralegal program professors are attorneys; they’re a lot tougher on us.”
Bailey will attend the University of Alabama this fall in pursuit of a degree in law. She doesn’t plan on stopping until she receives a doctoral degree. While in school, she plans to work at a law firm as a paralegal.
Bailey is the first Etowah High School student to ever graduate with an associate’s degree and high school diploma at the same time. She is ranked 4th in her class with a weighted GPA of 105.30.
Bailey is one of five local area high school students graduating with an associate’s degree and high school diplomas at the same time.