Amelia Academy seniors are beginning the countdown to graduation on May 23. It was therefore an appropriate time for Amari Hicks to speak about the inevitability of change in her Chapel Talk, delivered on March 13.
“Change is not necessarily a good thing; nor is it a bad thing,” she said. “Change is simply a thing that happens to each of us during certain times in our lives.”
Amari offered several examples of change that many teens experience, such as evolving choices in fashion, music, and sports teams. Other intentional changes may lead to becoming a better person or achieving goals, she said.
Since arriving at the Academy in the second grade, Amari has emerged from the admittedly shy newcomer. “I didn’t really talk to anyone except my teachers and maybe two other classmates,” she said. During that first year, she eventually got to know the rest of her class and came out of her “comfort zone.” She said that this was an example of a good change. “It was a wonderful decision,” she said.
All went well until Middle School when Amari said she began to retreat again. “It was a crazy time full of change . . . the lovely time of hitting puberty,” Amari said. However, just as she did in Lower School, Amari persevered and pursued new adventures, including playing volleyball.
She also decided to participate in Forensics, an annual public speaking competition of the Association of Virginia Academies (AVA). This experience led to an interest in “reading for fun” and creative writing.
Once again, in Upper School, Amari continued to step out of her comfort zone and pursue new opportunities. She joined the local chapter of Young Life, a positive experience that helped her confidence. “I made lots of new friends who never fail to make me smile,” she said.
Despite the difficult of overcoming fear, Amari said she is grateful for the changes she has made. “Don’t be afraid to do it,” she told her audience. “It could possibly make your life much better.”
In her closing, Amari quoted the Dalai Lama, “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”
Attending her Chapel Talk were her parents Juliane and Boyce Hicks, along with her sister Meagan. Also present were her grandparents, Viola and James Booker, and her grandmother, Ann Hicks. Other special guests included her aunts, Lofonda Booker, Jennifer Cooper, and Lowonda Craft, along with her cousin, Chelsey Poe.
Virginia Delegate, Tommy Wright, of the 61stdistrict visited the 3rdand 4thgrade classes at Amelia Academy. He gave them a coloring book about the House of Delegates and another one titled “Right This Very Minute: A Table to Farm Book about Food and Family” by Lisl Detlefsen. Pictured left to right is (front) Virginia Flippin, Emilynn Roberts, Jeremiah Bollinger, Austin Ison, (back) librarian, Karen Berry, Delegate Tommy Wright, and headmaster, Rodney Taylor.
Amelia Academy juniors and seniors (left to right: Mikayla Stables, Madison Barnard, Lexi Easter, Ellie Taylor, Jolin Fox, and Ryan Anderson) participated in the Donkey Basketball on March 9, 2019. The Donkey Basketball was a fundraiser held for Amelia Academy and it helped raise money for the school. The stands in the Amelia Academy gym were packed with about 300 people. The Amelia Academy juniors and seniors went up against the Sheriff’s Office of Amelia County, the Celebrity Team of Amelia County, and another team of Amelia County members.
During halftime at the Donkey Basketball Game Fundraiser at Amelia Academy, kids got the chance to ride on donkeys! Mikayla Stables, a senior at Amelia Academy, helped walk the donkey around while her nephew Tatum Jones rode. Junior Lexi Easter helped. This game was held on March 9, 2019 and helped raise money for the school.
Senior of Amelia Academy Ellie Taylor participates in the Donkey Basketball Game Fundraiser on March 9, 2019. The fundraiser was held in the Amelia Academy gymnasium and helped raise money for the school. The Amelia Academy juniors and seniors competed against the Sheriff’s Office of Amelia County, the Celebrity Team of Amelia County, and another team of Amelia County members.
“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.
Amelia Academy hosted the AVA Middle School Forensics meet on Thursday, March 7th. The following Amelia Academy students participated in this event. First row: Mr. Jacob Draper (sponsor), Summer Carter, Molly Lane, Julia King and Jaxon Baldwin. Second row: Amanda Carwile, Mikayla Anderson, Macy Barnard, Brooke Anderson, Bobbie Fletcher, Hardy McMillion, Emily King, Molly McMillian. Third row: Nick Flippin, Cole Duncan, Chase Thomas, Calvin Allen, Kyle Anderson, and Isaac Gilman. (not pictured Curtis Ison and Brooke Hazzard.)
Head of School Mr. Rodney Taylor presents Molly Lane with her second place certificate for fifth grade girl’s monologue. On Thursday Amelia Academy hosted the AVA middle School Forensics meet.
Amelia Academy senior Willjay Steger receives The Richmond Times Dispatch Student Athlete of the Month Award from Director of Student Affairs Mrs. Angela Anderson and statistician Ms Leah Ray. Willjay was nominated for this award by Ms. Ray.
“Education is the key to success,” said Jamal Grant in his Chapel Talk, delivered on February 27. In fact, it was this realization that led Jamal to Amelia Academy last year. “When I came to the Academy,” he said, “the classes were smaller, and all the teachers were engaged with us.”
Playing basketball has been a primary goal of Jamal’s life. “All I have ever wanted to do was play basketball,” he said. However, he acknowledged that he needs a “backup plan.”
Throughout his experiences in high school, Jamal has focused on success in sports. However, he has also tried new things. “If you don’t know what you want to do,” he said, “you just have to try something new and see if it fits for you.”
His mother has also been there to offer support and direction. Before Jamal came to the Academy, she encouraged him to take HVAC certification courses that would lead to a career. And, last year, she relented when Jamal wanted to transfer. Since then, he has put even greater emphasis on his academic pursuits. “I realized I had to challenge myself,” he said.
As he has put a greater emphasis on his education, Jamal has enjoyed a sense of accomplishment. “I like to work hard in my classes because I want to be successful,” he said.
For Jamal, a happy life involves pursuing a good education. The knowledge gained through education provides opportunities to find a vocation. “Once you find what you enjoy, everything will go well,” he said. Jamal also said that education helps us learn from the past mistakes of others in history.
For the past two seasons of basketball, Jamal has been a member of the varsity team. This year, he was named Player of the Year in the Virginia Colonial Conference (VCC). He was named VCC All-Conference and made the first team All-tournament.
Jamal looks forward to attending college and continuing his education next fall.