Gaines shocked, thrilled at being named Vicksburg’s valedictorian

Published 10:23 am Friday, June 19, 2020

Khya Gaines had always been a good student but had no idea she would receive the top spot in her graduating class.

When she found out she was named valedictorian for Vicksburg High School’s Class of 2020, she was surprised.

“Becoming the valedictorian for the class of 2020 was actually not a goal for me,” Gaines said. “When I first heard the news I was shocked. I’ve always known that I did well with my academics, so I knew I would rank high in my class, but not number one.”

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Gaines is the daughter of Quatangelia Gaines and attended Vicksburg Intermediate and Academy of Innovation before moving up to Vicksburg High School.

Gaines credited her mother in helping her achieve this honor.

“Without my mom, this honor most definitely would not have been achieved,” she said. “She has always been the one to push me and motivate me to do my best and accomplish goals I would not even have set for myself. Her encouragement is what made me achieve so much in my life and I’m very grateful for her.”

At Vicksburg, Gaines was a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Key Club. She was a school ambassador, a Health and Human Services Student Leader and a member of the school’s track team.

Gaines received a Xavier Academic Scholarship and a Scholar Tech Scholarship. She plans to attend Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and major in biology pre-med.

Even though she was thrilled to be named top graduate of her class, she was disappointed that a traditional graduation ceremony would not be held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the most amazing parts about being the valedictorian is giving a thoughtful speech toward my peers and administrators, so I was hurt that I wouldn’t get the moment,” Gaines said.

However, with a virtual graduation ceremony, Gaines did get the chance to send a message to her classmates.

“We have shared many moments together throughout our years of school watching one another grow and achieve our number one goal — graduating,” Gaines said in her speech that was pre-recorded and included in a special online graduation ceremony coordinated by the Vicksburg Warren School District. “Now it is time for us to create new goals and venture off to become someone even better. I am so proud that we finished strong through these tough circumstances. This shows that we are a very special class that will go on to accomplish great things.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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