Rachel Cummings, Mollye Lay top grads at Como-Pickton

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

May 23, 2008 - Como-Pickton High School announced during this week's honors and awards assembly that Rachel Cummings and Mollye Lay are the top graduates of this year's senior class.

Valedictorian Rachel Cummings is the 17-year-old daughter of Jon and Chireen Bradshaw, who work as a truck driver and pharmacy technician, respectively.

Salutatorian Mollye Lay is the 18-year-old daughter of Chuck Lay, a veterinarian, and Jeanne Lay, the high school principal.

Also recognized as being the top 10 students in the class based on their four-year cumulative grade point average were, in order: Courtney Thompson, Brittany Hodges, Marisol Moreno, Mayra Perez, Maria Gutierrez, Lorena Ledesma, Aeron Green and Rebecca Humphrey. Also recognized for being in National Honor Society were Cummings, Lay, Gutierrez, Green, Thompson, Candace Barnes, Dusty Dodd, Rebecca Humphrey, Aaron Kramer, Anna Velasco and Juan Bautista.

Mere hundredths of a point separated Cummings and Lay, who both indicated they will be attending Texas A&M University-Commerce in the fall to continue their studies. Cummings finishes with a 3.96 cumulative grade point average and Lay with a 3.94 GPA.

Cummings says she plans to study education, in hopes of becoming either a basic or upper level high school math teacher, "to do for others what Mr. Williams was able to do for me."

"He's the best teacher I've ever had. He made me want to be a math teacher," Cummings said. "What I want to do is come back to Northeast Texas and teach, stay here."

Lay also noted that of all the teachers she's had at Como-Pickton, Williams has been a favorite.

Both said Williams is responsible for number of students opting during their junior year to take pre-calculus. Williams is now teachers math at Emory-Rains High School.

Lay cited Kim Dockens as influential in her school and career plans, which include studying biomedical engineering and going into the medical field, and simply made learning fun.

Shelly Anderson as the most helpful to the close group of seniors as they started college preparation.

"She's the one most interested in our future," Lay said.

"Everyone is important to her," Cummings said.

They said their favorite teacher has been Jack Forshee, instructor of chemistry and physics.

"He has such passion for what he does. It's contagious, and science is my least favorite course," Lay said.

"He really cares, makes you interested," Cummings added.

The pair said most students "wish he was our grandpa," because he the military veteran "tell the best stories" and will do what it take to illustrate his point, including give a physical lesson about gravity which ended with Forshee injuring three disks in his back when gravity rose up and met him as he jumped from his desk to the floor.

Both girls during high school have received numerous honors.

During Wednesday's academic awards assembly, Cummings was named the top senior reader by librarian Marilyn Powers, who said the hard working senior had accumulated 446 points this year, during the Ada. She also received a number of other awards, including top academic award pre-calculus and economics. She also was recognized for being the best overall in PAP and government, and remaining on the AB honor roll.

Lay received the academic award in PAP chemistry and best overall in BCIS II, and was recognized for making all As and Bs, during the annual awards program.

Also during the awards program Lay was awarded an $2,000 Alliance Bank Scholarship, and Cummings was awarded a $1,000 Cooperative Teachers Credit Union Scholarship and an $8,000 Texas Education Agency Valedictorian Scholarship. As the valedictorian she also will have her first year's tuition paid through the state valedictorian award.

Cummings competed two years in University Interscholastic League math competitions, advancing from district to regional competition. She also competed in debate UIL as a freshman. She currently is employed at Sonic, but jokingly notes that customers are allowed to tip the carhop.

Lay participated in Educational Talent Search and was honored to be able to travel to Hawaii with a group of girls to play ball last summer. She said the experience was "awesome," playing on a team with girls she didn't know with no practice and only 30 minutes to warm up and get ready before the game. The rest of the time, she got to experience Hawaii. Of course, she had to raise the fund to do so.

This year's salutatorian also played volleyball and basketball for four years and softball three years. She said that of the three basketball is the sport she'd think about playing again at college if the opportunity presented itself.

Cummings and Lay were both members of the National Honor Society, which for the past two years have participated in the annual Relay For Life. they also were in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

They said their class is very close, there for each other in difficult times. They noted how nearly the entire class was in attendance when at a funeral for a classmate's family members. Also, when one class member sees another who is obviously feeling "down" they generally stop to enquire what's wrong and try to help. They also said their class is remarkable in today's world and they're proud to be members of the groups because far as they know no classmates have been arrested nor have any gotten pregnant.

Both said they decided early on that their education was the most important part of their high school experience. While other kids were "partying" they could often be found cracking the books, but didn't feel they were missing out because of the long term benefit. Plus, neither one is into that kind of thing, they said. Cumming and Lay indicate that they felt their dedication to studying made them grow up faster than some of their classmates.

While they have been attending school together since 8th grade, Lay and Cummings didn't really become friends until this year. In fact, they didn't become close until Christmas. Since then, they've been fast friends and the trio will be going to TAMU-C together. Lay and Aeron Green, their closest friend who was ranked ninth in the class, will be sharing an apartment and its off to the dorms for Cummings. Although the girls said it's a sure bet that you'll more often than not you're likely to find all three at the Lay and Green's apartment playing cards when they're not busy with classwork.

They said that this year they've become quite the card sharks, playing every spare minute. They've even taken to collecting cards of all shapes, sizes and prints. In fact, it was the attractiveness of one particular deck of cards, a bright pink pack, that started the cardsharks on their road to addiction. One of the girls saw the deck of cards, thought it was attractive, and took it to school where they played one day after finishing class work. Since then, they've learned every card game they can their hands on and rules for -- except poker. They made it quite clear they don't bet or gamble in their games, instead playing everything from Go Fish to Phase 10, Uno and everything in between.

In fact, one day at lunchtime the trio of girls made the jaunt to Chili's where they were more interested in clearing the table to make room for a game of Phase 10 than food. The restaurant staff recognize them by sight and ask them upon entering if they're back for another round, the valedictorian and salutatorian recalled.

So what feeds their fire for cards? They thrive on the strategy which challenges them; and the fact that they're good at it doesn't hurt.

While in Commerce, Lay hopes to work in a local pharmacy. Both are looking forward to the new challenges ahead of them as they embark on life as college students.

Lay, who has lived her entire life here, expects she'll miss her parents, especially her dad who has oft been her coach, but is looking forward to the opportunities being on her own will bring.

Cumming until her eighth grade year of school had moved about 16 times, on average two times each school year, which taught her at an early age how to adapt to different situations and make friends faster. It also made her especially close to her mom, with whom she will move hundreds of miles away this summer. While she's looking forward to returning for classes in Commerce and Northeast Texas, which she now considers home, Cummings expects an missing her mother at times.

The top honor graduates along with the rest of the senior class will be honored Sunday, June 1, at 6 p.m. with a baccalaureate service at Tabernacle Baptist Church on FM 269 in Pickton. A commencement service will also be held for Como-Pickton graduates Friday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.

A graduation service for C-P eighth graders who will be going into high school during the 2008-2009 school year will also be conducted. It begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, in C-P secondary cafeteria.

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