“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.
While other students in Amelia were exchanging Valentine greetings, Amelia Academy’s Junior Beta Club made the trek to Hampton Roads for the State’s Junior Beta Convention.
Eight AA Patriots attended, accompanied by their faculty advisor. They acquitted themselves well in both group and individual competitions.
Kyle Anderson brought home a second place award in Visual Arts (woodworking). He entered a handmade treasure chest, carved from a log that he hollowed out, sanded and stained and to which he added leather hinges and a belt-like latch. The chest qualified Kyle to go onto compete at the national level in Oklahoma later this year.
The team was in Hampton overnight. In addition to Kyle, the team was comprised of Emily King, Jaxon Baldwin, Curtis Ison, Amanda Carwile, Macy Barnard, Emma Humphrey and Barit McMillian.
Students competed individually in unique categories. Emily competed in painting; Amanda in photography; Jaxon in digital arts; Emma in creative writing.
Curtis competed in performing arts, accompanying himself on the guitar as he sang. Barit competed in a visual arts category using recycled materials by entering a whimsical sculpture of her dog using a soda bottle. Macy competed in language arts by taking a written test.
The group competitions included a Quiz Bowl in which Amanda, Macy, Jaxon and Emily competed. Kyle, Emma and Barit participated in a Group Engineering competition where they built a tower using pre-selected materials.
“This was a wonderful experience for our Junior Beta Club—a time for each student to shine and work together in fun competitions while representing Amelia Academy at the State level. We are proud of them all,” commented AA Faculty Advisor, Angela Anderson.
“I have made many friends and learned many things,” said Tyler Gough in his Chapel Talk, delivered on February 13. Speaking about his fourteen years at Amelia Academy, he said that he has taken advantage of opportunities, such as attending the Precision Machinist program at John Tyler Community College while also taking core classes at the Academy.
The importance of friendships was the subject of his speech. He shared stories of antics with Wilbert Allen going back to Lower School. “It all started in first grade,” he said when he was assigned a seat beside Wilbert. He also paid a tribute to newer friends and classmates WillJay Steger and Jamal Grant for their influence on his life.
Tyler and his friends have always been able to end up laughing through the good times. “Some things in life are not really worth doing unless there is a friend there to enjoy the moment,” he said. He also emphasized the importance of having friends during difficult situations. “Your friends should be there for you when you’re going through hard times,” he said.
Family friendships have been a mainstay of Tyler’s life. “One of my best friends is my Dad,” he said. “A few things we like to do together are hunting, going to drag races, and working on cars.”
Another important friendship in his life was with his grandfather, Papa Thea, who passed away in 2010. “He was one of my best friends, and I miss him all the time,” said Tyler. He and Papa Thea spent time working in the garden, cutting grass, and fishing. They had a lot of fun together.
“He taught me a lot of life lessons,” Tyler said. From his Papa Thea, he learned “right from wrong, and how to be dependable and do for others.”
His Pape Thea’s passing made Tyler realize that friendships should never be taken for granted. He told his fellow students to appreciate their friends and “look out for them and help them if they need it.”
Based on his experience, he encouraged students to pursue hard work without becoming discouraged. “As soon as you get discouraged, you will not be able to accomplish what you are capable of doing,” he said.
As a student at the Academy, Tyler has been involved in a variety of programs. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has played sports, including varsity baseball.
Attending his Chapel Talk were his parents Robin and Daryl Gough, along with his sister Brett, a 2016 Academy graduate. Other family members present included his uncle, Clarke Gough, his aunt, Debbie Weaver, and cousins, Alan and Avery Gough.
On February 12, the Amelia Academy athletic department recognized three seniors for their contributions to the athletic program. Pictured is Mascot Cheerleader student coach, Hannah King, accompanied by her father, Nathan King, and grandmother, Gail Wilson; varsity basketball co-captain, Jamal Grant, accompanied by his mother, Monica Jackson, his girlfriend, Tamia Nunnally, and his father, Nathan Grant; and varsity basketball co-captain, Will Jay Steger, accompanied by his Amelia family, Coach Greg Harris Sr., Valarie Harris, and Greg Harris Jr., his mother, Ladonya Steger, his father, William Steger Sr., his grandmother, Mary Anne Brooks, his sister, Donyale Steger, his girlfriend, Kyra Benoit, and his grandfather, Melvin Brooks.
The Patriot Review is the Alumni Newsletter of Amelia Academy.