CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Two students at West Ashley High School, including the 2019 valedictorian, can boast an accomplishment few students can: not missing a day of school.
The South Carolina Department of Education recently recognized students Marcus Jackson and Davonte Capers. Jackson is the school’s 2019 valedictorian. Jackson and Capers have known each other since middle school, according to West Ashley High School Principal Paul Runyon.
“It is critical to show up so as not to get behind in class,” Jackson said. “It is hard to recover from the missed instructional time. I take pride in showing up to class, and I do it because it is natural for me to want to go to school.”
Runyon said Jackson accomplished perfect attendance in part by skipping field trips to focus on class time and making sure doctor’s appointments were scheduled after class.
“Very few South Carolina students achieve a 12-year perfect attendance record and earn the title of Valedictorian,” Runyon said. “This is only the beginning for Marcus. He will far surpass these accomplishments.”
Jackson earned a weighted 5.283 GPA and received the Teaching Fellows Scholarship. He plans to attend the University of South Carolina to major in history and obtain a Master of Arts in Teaching as well. Aside from his love of history, Jackson enjoys reading, trivia, volunteering at the Lowcountry Food Bank, listening to classical music and K-Pop, and playing historical video games.
As part of earning the distinction of Valedictorian Jackson was awarded The C.E. Williams Cup is given annually to the graduate who has earned the highest grade point average over his or her high school career. This award honors Mr. C.E. Williams, former Superintendent of Charleston County District 10 schools.
In his Valedictory speech, Jackson told his fellow classmates, “Curiosity, Integrity, Flexibility. These magic words can bring you success, no matter which path you take after today.”
“I was motivated to make straight A’s and not get behind,” Jackson said. “Earning the spot as my school’s valedictorian was never my goal. My goal was to make nothing less than an A.”
“He is so well loved that he is considered a rock star here at West Ashley High School,” Runyon said.
Jackson is also driven by his competitive nature and a motivation to do his best.
“I would pick the smartest kid in the room and silently vow to be smarter than them,” Jackson said. “The one and only B I received on one of my third-grade report cards made me upset enough that I told myself I would never again receive an Honor Roll ribbon – only the Principal’s List Ribbon.”
Tragically, Jackson’s father died just three days before his son graduated.