Laurel High School Class of 2018 Top 10 Seniors

With a host of scholarships and awards received, Laurel High School is proud to announce the accolades of the Class of 2018 Top 10 seniors.

Valedictorian Breunna McCann, the daughter of Johnny and Shelia McCann, plans to attend the Honors College at Alcorn State University where she will major in biological science with plans to pursue a career in optometry. She received a Provost Scholarship from Alcorn. While at Laurel High School, she was a member of the Student Council where she served as senior public relations official, Beta Club president, Academic Ambassador co-captain, member of the gospel and concert choirs and competed on the archery team for three years. Due to her outstanding academic success, she was a Principal’s List Scholar and a Mississippi Scholar. Active in the community, she was a member of Future Leaders of Jones County where her team, Lifeline, raised funds and assisted with the painting of a mural in downtown Laurel. She is a member of the praise dance team at Christian Valley Missionary Baptist Church.

Salutatorian Amir Breland, the daughter of Marcellina Breland and Barry Ulmer, plans to attend Honors College at Mississippi State University where she will major in chemical engineering. While at Laurel High School, she served as captain of the soccer team, secretary of Beta Club, Student Council junior class president and was a member of Interact, a community service organization. Due to her academic success, she was awarded the Do You Know Foundation MLK Youth of the Year Scholarship, MSU Freshman Academic Excellence Scholarship and the MSU Colvard Future Leader Scholarship. Due to her high academic achievements, she was named a Superintendent’s List Scholar and Principal’s List Scholar. Active in the community, she assisted with Batson’s Children’s Hospital fundraisers, created elderly care baskets, served at senior citizens luncheons and helped with a backpack and school supply giveaway event.

Historian Taylor Reed, the daughter of Odessa and Earl Reed, plans to attend the Honors College at Alcorn State University where she will major in nursing with future plans to become a pediatrician. While at Laurel High School, she was a member of Girls State, Future Leaders of Jones County, Student Council, Beta Club and Key Club. She was named Miss LHS, Student Body President, Association for Excellence in Education Student of the Month and South Central Sports Medicine Honor Athlete. She was named Advanced Placement Biology Star Student and received highest average. She served as head captain of the cheerleading squad her senior year. Active in the community, she has assisted with the Good Samaritan Soup Kitchen, Pennies for Patients, food drives and community cleanups. She received a scholarship to Alcorn State University.

Ranking fourth, Alexandria Seals, the daughter of Angie Smith and Andre Smith, plans to attend the Honors College at the University of Mississippi where she will major in accounting and managerial finance. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in finance and become a Certified Public Accountant. She has received numerous scholarships including the Bledsoe Scholarship, Academic Excellence Scholarship, Patterson School of Accounting Scholarship, and was accepted into the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and Ole Miss Women’s Council. While at Laurel High School, she was a member of the Color Guard, Beta Club, Academic Team, Archery Team, Key Club and Student Council. She was an Advance Placement student, named Academic Team Most Valuable Player and received STAR Student designation for her ACT score. Active in the community, she has helped with community cleanups, created elderly care baskets, assisted at the animal shelter, served at the Soup Kitchen and volunteered at the annual spaghetti day.

Ranking fifth, Sha’Cori Ruffin, the daughter of Peggy King and Robert King, plans to attend the University of Mississippi where she will double major in accounting and managerial finance. She plans to pursue a master’s degree. While at Laurel High School, she served as Student Council student body secretary, captain of the Academic Ambassadors, captain of the archery team and vice president and auditor of Beta Club. She was also a member of the 4H Club and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Due to her outstanding academic achievements, she was named a Superintendent’s List Scholar, Principal’s List Scholar, Mississippi Scholar and received the Laurel Junior Auxiliary Scholarship, Federal Work Study Scholarship and the McGowen and Pierce Scholarship. She was also a member of the archery team where she was named Most Valuable Player and Top Female Shooter. Active in the community, she assisted with community cleanups, toy drives, tutoring and the local animal shelter.

Ranking sixth, Jessica Thompson, the daughter of Sharon McLaurin and Earnest Thompson, plans to attend Honors College at Alcorn State University where she will major in nursing. Due to her outstanding academic achievements, she was awarded the full-tuition Provost Scholarship. Active in Student Council, she served as the first Laurel School District Board of Trustees Student Liaison and was the first student in the state to serve in this position. She was head coordinator of the Student Council’s Making a Difference (M.A.D.) campaign. Through the M.A.D. campaign, the Laurel High School Student Council hosted guest speakers, workshops, and other promotions to encourage the student body to take a stand against destructive de­cisions while encouraging kindness, gener­osity and self-worth. The M.A.D. campaign was named Mississippi State Association of Student Council’s Outstanding Project and Thompson was named MSASC Outstanding Member and placed second in the state speech contest.

Ranking seventh, Courtney Thigpen, the daughter of Shalisa Heidelberg and Daniel and Kalea Thigpen, plans to attend Jones County Junior College followed by Mississippi State University. She plans to major in business administration management with future plans to become a human resource manager. While at Laurel High School, she was a member of the Golden Girls dance team and DECA. A member of Delta Gems, she served at the local soup kitchen and visited nursing homes. She received a JCJC Academic Excellence Scholarship, ACT Scholarship and a Fine Arts Scholarship for making the Touch of Gold dance team at JCJC.

Ranking eighth, Kimberton Mai, the son of Diep Mai and Tri Tran, plans to attend Mississippi State University where he will major in aerospace engineering with plans to pursue a doctorate degree. His future plans are to continue with researching, start a company or sign with a company like SpaceX or Boeing. While at Laurel High School, he was a member of Beta Club, Key Club, soccer team, football team, golf team and tennis team. He received first place in the Regional Science Fair in biochemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was awarded the Naval Academy Award for outstanding science fair project, the Teacher’s Award for advanced placement biology and was selected to participate in a prestigious research program with Project SEED at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was awarded the MSU Colvard Future Leader Scholarship and MSU Freshmen Academic Excellence Scholarship and recently received the District Five 2018 Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete Award for excellence in academics and athletics.

Ranking ninth, Shaquavia Straughn, the daughter of Noetta Straughn, plans to double major in health science and psychology with future plans to open a medical center. While at Laurel High School, she was a member of the Golden Girls dance team, Academic Ambassadors, Student Council and was co-founder of the Spirit Coordinators and Touch of Knowledge Peer Tutoring Group. A Superintendent’s List Scholar and Principal’s List Scholar, she received awards for Highest Honors, Highest ACT Score and was a Mississippi Scholar. Active in the community, she served as an American Legion Auxiliary volunteer for veterans and worked in community service concentrating on school improvement. 

Ranking tenth, Jasmine Bender, the daughter of Attacleve Bender and Jennifer Barnett, she plans to attend Louisiana State University where she will major in marine sciences and minor in business with future plans to join the military. While at Laurel High School, she was an active member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) where she served as Battalion S6 working with computer repair, public relations and communications. She served as captain of the Laurel Golden Tornado Marching Band Color Guard and was a member of the archery team where she won Female Top Shooter. She was a member of Future Leaders of Jones County where she assisted with painting a wall in downtown Laurel for Maker’s Alley. Active in the community, she assisted with numerous service projects including food box distribution. 

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