Alex Roller has been named the valedictorian and and Kealey McPherson the salutatorian of the North Hopkins High School Senior Class of 2013. They will be honored, along with the 25 other members of their class with a baccalaureate service June 7 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at the school, and a graduation ceremony at at 3 p.m. June 8, also in the gym.
Alex Roller will finish the year with a 4.8672 weighted grade point average. He is the oldest son of Sulphur Springs residents Greg and Cindy Roller. He is the brother of Garrison, Issabella and Justynne, who also attend NH Independent School District.
Kealey McPherson will graduate with a 4.7428 weighted grade point average. She is the daughter of Cyndi Harlin and Rod Harlin, and younger sister of P.K. Harlin. Her oldest sister Lindsey lives in Indiana and her two younger sisters, Amanda and Krystal, live with her aunt.
The valedictorian has attended NHHS for the last two years. He’s lived in Sulphur Springs since eighth grade. He’s attended school in six different school districts, including Henrietta, Mundy, Wellington, Muenster and Como-Pickton. He said his family moved of necessity when his dad was a coach and teacher; Greg Roller currently teaches history at NHISD.
While some might be unsettled having to start over at a new school so often, Roller takes the moves in stride.
“With coaching you’ve got to move around. You get used to moving. You adjust to adjusting,” Roller said.
McPherson too knows what it’s like to move. She lived in Hopkins County, attending school at NHISD until first grade, then moved to Oregon. Her family moved back to Hopkins County the summer before her seventh grade year of school.
She said returning to NHISD was a bit different for her because the group of students in class with her were a year older.
“I skipped a grade while we were in Oregon,” McPherson explains. “When I came back, I was in a different class than when I left. It’s not so weird now. When I started back, my friends [from before] were in the sixth grade, so I wouldn’t see them throughout the day. After that first year, it was OK.”
Both Roller and McPherson were active in Beta Club, competed in UIL during their years at NHHS, are part of the High School Leadership Class and are on the yearbook staff.
McPherson has been in Beta Club all four years, serving as reporter. Roller has been a member of Beta both years at NHHS. Some of Beta’s service projects this year have included helping with a tractor pull in October and a benefit for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. They also were part of the annual Beta canned food drive to benefit Cooper food pantry, the Handicapable Rodeo and provided candy that was put in the eggs Beta supplies and helps hide for the annual Easter Egg hunt at Cooper Lake State Park. Beta Club also attends two conventions each year. The school’s electronic scrap-booking team won a first place medal at stated and is advancing to the national level. McPherson said they also competed in the state quiz bowl contest.
Hopkins County High School Leadership Class has participated in a ropes obstacle course in Commerce and on the 15th will be going to the Dallas Zoo and Aquarium.
Roller has competed in social studies UIL for the last three years, winning first place at district and ninth at region as a sophomore, first at district and fourth at region as a junior, and fourth at district this year. Last year, he was part of the second place current events team. He won third in district this year in cross-examination debate. He said debate was a “good” experience, one he wishes he’d tried earlier in high school so he could have continued to build his skills in hopes of advancing further at competition.
McPherson competed in math and literary criticism UIL events this year. She has competed in cross-examination debate in the past.
As part of the yearbook staff, both are working on the senior video that will be played during the baccalaureate service. They are tasked with putting together the video using the 10-15 photos submitted by each senior.
McPherson also has served as manager of the school basketball team for four years, including when they made academic All State, and this year managed the softball team too.
In fact, she offers special thanks to Athletic Director/basketball and softball coach Larry Tucker and to her stepfather, Rod Harlin.
She credits Tucker for his moral and emotional suport throughout high school, and willingness to go that extra step to help students reach their potential and goals.
“Coach Tucker is always there,” McPherson said. “Even if I need him after graduation, I know I can go to him any time. He said he’d do his best to talk to his friends and connections to help us with jobs and things. He’s done a lot in life. He knows a lot of people.”
She’s also appreciative to her stepfather for all of his support too.
“My stepdad, he just cares a lot. Since seventh grade, a lot more options have opened up for me than my mother was able to provide alone,” McPherson said.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading, particularly J.K. Rowling and James Patterson books. She also helps her mom with her jewelry business, Bella Merce.
Since moving to Sulphur Spings five years ago, Roller has each summer helped teach 4- to 6-year-olds about the Bible during vacation Bible school at St. James Catholic Church.
“With VBS, they pick one section to teach. I help out with the class all week. It’s fun to help out with all the kids, to see everybody each year,” he said, adding that the responsibility of being the oldest sibling at his house helped prepare him for the task and working with young children.
In his spare time, Roller likes watching movies and a variety of TV shows — particularly action and science fiction movies and dramas.
Both Roller and McPherson are excited to start the next chapter of their lives — going to college to major in computer science. Roller will be attending the University of Texas, McPherson Stephen F. Austin University.
“I want to graduate with full honors on my diploma. I never really came up with what I wanted to do until the past few years. I like problem solving using the computer. I want to figure out how to fix the bugs — others’ problems,” the NHHS 2013 salutatorian said.
To prepare, she’s taken every related course NHHS has to offer, all honors courses and has earned 18 hours of dual credit.
She plans to pursue a master’s degree, graduate with honors and join the IT department of a large computer-based company.
She’s well on her way. She has been accepted to the honors college, and awarded a $3,000 scholarship to SFA.
Roller too has attained 18 hours of college credit, thanks to the dual credit courses he’s taken during the last two school years as well as the college classes he took over the summer. He’s also taken some online courses, getting practice with Java in relation to programs.
“I want to write software for computers, everything computers and technology. It’s been my dream to go to UT since I was little. I have a picture of me as a baby in a UT onesie. I want to work for Microsoft, Apple or Google. I’d love to work for Google,” the NHHS 2013 valedictorian said.
Roller offers thanks to News-Telegram photographer Luis Noble and Janice Thomas, the English teacher who has taught six of the classes he’s taken over the last two years, for helping him with his college entrance essays and the admissions process.
Both Roller and McPherson advise those high school students planning to attend college to get an early a start on the admissions and application process. Waiting until the beginning of senior year generally means the 12th grader could be too late to apply at some places and for some scholarships, and most often means a lot of cramming to meet deadlines and complete the lengthy application process.
In fact, Roller advises students “don’t procrastinate” if they want to succeed in school.
McPherson reminds of the importance of knowing when to have fun and when to focus on their school work, to buckle down and think of their future when appropriate instead of always living in the moment. Time is fleeting and must be used wisely.
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