By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Cherokee High School (CHS) has named its top two students for the 2019-20 academic year. Raylen Bark and Tierney Bradley, both members of the Cherokee Lady Braves varsity basketball team and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, have been selected as valedictorian and salutatorian respectively.
“It was a little shocking to be named valedictorian,” said Bark. “My family and I were ecstatic when we heard the news. It’s an amazing honor. We’ve dedicated countless hours to schoolwork. It’s a great feeling to know that it’s all paid off.”
She will attend Dartmouth College this fall to study cultural anthropology with a minor in Native American Studies. In addition to playing varsity basketball for four years, she also participated in the following: volleyball, track and field, cross country, soccer, member and officer in the National Honor Society, part of the TAG (Talented and Gifted) program, and was selected as a scholar for the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America in 2019.
Bark has this to say to her fellow students, “It’s terrible that our high school careers had to end up like this. All we can do is keep our heads up and look forward. We’ve accomplished many things together, and everyone has a bright future ahead of them. It was a pleasure to spend four years with this group of people. I can’t wait to see all of the things we’re going to do in the future.”
On being selected as salutatorian, Bradley commented, “I am thankful that I am able to be salutatorian, and I’m so grateful that all of my hard work paid off.”
She will attend Carson-Newman University this fall to be a part of the Bonner Scholars Program and will major in human services. While at CHS, she was a member of Student Council all four years; served as class president in her sophomore, junior, and senior years; participated in the Cherokee Performing Arts program; participated in the Project Discovery Program; and played junior varsity basketball her freshman year and varsity basketball her senior year.
To her fellow students, she said, “I would like to congratulate my classmates and let them know that I am so proud of them. I hope that they continue to grow and learn. I know that they can do anything they put their minds to. Remember that you are strong and you may make mistakes, but learn from them and keep going. Never be afraid of tomorrow.”
Dr. Debora Foerst, CHS principal, said of the two students, “Raylen Bark and Tierney Bradley are stellar students and more than deserving of the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian. Both have represented Cherokee High School and our Braves Nation extremely well in a variety of venues and will continue to do so in their post-secondary endeavors.”
She added, “Raylen’s drive and determination will serve her well at Dartmouth this fall, and as Tierney heads to Carson-Newman, she will reap the benefits from her strong work ethic and tenacity.”
As of press time, plans and details for the Cherokee High School graduation have not been decided.