POWHATAN – Rachel Stegner and Talmadge “Wheat” Fralin lead the 2020 Class of Powhatan High School as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, with grade point averages of 4.6607 and 4.5837.
Stegner of Powhatan is the daughter of Christine Stegner. She plans to attend the University of Virginia to study biochemistry and environmental science. After college, she wants to continue her academic career with plans to earn a MD-PhD. Ultimately, her goal is to pursue a career in medical research pertaining to how environmental health impacts human health, she said.
“At the University of Virginia, I am entirely eager to continue my scientific studies. Additionally, I anticipate joining numerous environmental and social activism organizations as well as academic societies,” she said. “I look forward to the new academic challenges and experiences that I have been preparing for. Mostly, I am so excited to connect with my peers and establish a new network as strong as the one I am leaving behind.”
While a student at the high school, Stegner was a founder of the Planeteers; served as president of Mu Alpha Theta and Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, was vice president of the National English Honor Society, and was secretary of the National Honor Society. She also was community service coordinator for the National Science Honor Society, was a member of the Computer Science National Honor Society, and participated in Powhatan Tutoring.
Outside of school, she was involved in the Powhatan Earth Day Coalition and Special Olympics, was an academic tutor, and was a community litter cleaning group leader.
For the past four years, Stegner said the high school has truly facilitated her passion for academics. She added that she has always felt encouragement to succeed in every regard from her teachers as well as her peers.
“Without PHS, I may never have recognized my eagerness to study the sciences. It was through dedicated teachers that I discovered the career path I intend to pursue. Above all, the amazing teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing and learning from have prepared me in every aspect for the future ahead,” she said. “The combined efforts of my incredible teachers, family, and friends ultimately fostered my academic growth as valedictorian. I truly appreciate their constant support and devotion. They have all profoundly encouraged me in all of my pursuits and I am truly thankful for all of their support over the past four years. I am honored to be named valedictorian of Powhatan High School’s class of 2020.”
Fralin of Powhatan is the son of Mary and Thomas Fralin. He will be attending the University of Virginia pursuing a degree in chemistry with a specialization in material science.
“The high school experience is a unique one. It goes by in the blink of an eye, yet when senior year rolls around the infamous effects of senioritis are felt. Powhatan High School wonderfully prepared me for college and helped ignite my love and passion for science,” he said.
The support system of Powhatan High School is phenomenal, he added. Through his counselor and teachers, achieving his lifelong dream of attending UVA was accomplished.
“For every one valedictorian or salutatorian there (are) at least 50 people behind them helping achieve the accomplishment, and I cannot thank those people enough. I am looking forward for the future, yet I cannot help but think of the wonderful four years I experienced at Powhatan High School,” he said.
While a student at the high school, Fralin participated in the Future Business Leaders of America from ninth to 12th grades; was vice president of the chapter and region in 12th grade, and was a council member in 10th and 11th grades. He was a competitor in the Science Olympiad in 12th grade; was in the Science Honor Society in 11th and 12th grades (serving as public relations officer in 11th grade and president in 12th grade), and was a member of Math Honor Society in 11th and 12th grades (competed in math competition in 12th grade). He also was in the PHS Ambassador Program in ninth and 12th grades (was an assistant freshmen year in setting school up for orientation, was a tour guide in his senior year for incoming freshmen) and was a member of the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy in 12th grade. Fralin played boys tennis from ninth to 12th grades (co-captain in 12th grade) and football from ninth to 11th grades (played junior varsity in ninth and 10th grades and varsity in 11th grade).
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.