“Make new friends and keep the old; One is silver and the other gold,” are lyrics from an old song. Hannah King expressed this sentiment in her Chapel Talk, delivered on March 6. She has pursued experiences that led to new friendships over the past year. Hannah has come to value the differing viewpoints and backgrounds of these friends. Just as important, however, are the family relationships and life-long friendships that have sustained her.
Referring to the high school experience as a “roller coaster,” Hannah expressed appreciation to the teachers and friends who have helped her. “Thank you for helping me recognize that good can come from adversity and for helping me through the hardships,” she said.
The important role of her family support has been foremost and essential, Hannah said. “Their love is unconditional,” she said. Without being judgmental, she said that her family have encouraged and even pushed her when needed. “I didn’t have to win first place or be the best player. I just have to be me,” she said.
Hannah also paid a special tribute to her younger sisters, Emily and Julia. “They make me want to be a better person,” she said. She holds herself accountable to them as a role model and hopes they will learn from her mistakes. “I know that they love and appreciate me, especially since I am their Uber driver each day,” she joked.
A lifelong friend, Cassie Brenner, has had almost as great a role as a family member. “Our moms were great friends so, of course, we had to be best friends.” They were in the church nursery together as babies and remain friends today.
Another friendship was developed after a chance meeting at the Virginia Girls State convention last summer. “We might have said two words to each other the whole week,” Hannah said of her contact with a fellow attendee, Skylar Brement. However, through social media, the two later reconnected and have become good friends.
Other new friendships emerged when Hannah attended a summer program at Flagler University in St. Augustine, Florida. Just making the decision to participate required overcoming “pointless anxiety” about being alone far from home. “When I do take the chance, it always turns out to be amazing, and my experience at Flagler was no different,” she said.
As the participants got to know each other, Hannah connected with a group whose interests and opinions were widely varied. They formed a bond that has remained strong. “I loved how, even though we had different backgrounds, we could talk and participate in thought-provoking discussions.”
Hannah expressed a sense of accomplishment in overcoming her fear of attending the Flagler summer program. “I would never have met these amazing and diverse people who are now some of my closest friends,” she said. She advised her fellow students to do the things that frighten them. “Gain the strength and confidence that you can by just having faith. Just like I have, you have the people to support you” she said.
As a student at the Academy, Hannah has been recognized for her academic excellence. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Club. In addition, she has participated in the Association of Virginia Academies (AVA) Scholastic Bowl and Forensics competitions. She was a member of the team representing the Academy at the Model United Nations. As a student-athlete, Hannah has played junior varsity basketball and volleyball and varsity volleyball.
Attending her Chapel Talk were her mother, Alison King and her father, Nathan King, along with her sisters Julia and Emily and cousin Grace Wilson. Also present were her grandparents, Gail and Ron Wilson and Teka and Buddy King. Other guests included her friends Cassie Brenner and Skylar Brement.