River City Early College selects two valedictorians for class of 2022

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Two students in the 2022 class of River City Early College High School shared the honor of being selected as top in their class.

Caleb Whitney and Taylor Gabrielle O’Leary were both named the school’s valedictorians, each earning a 5.012 GPA.

Whitney, who is the son of Chandler and Alison Whitney said he was “surprised and glad” when hearing the news.

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O’Leary, the daughter of Regina O’Leary, concurred.

“When I learned that I was my class valedictorian, although I didn’t show it on my face, I was quite shocked,” O’Leary said.

“Going to a school named by some as ‘The Smart Kid School,’ I never expected myself to be ‘the smartest,’” she said.

RCEC is an academic program that was implemented by the Vicksburg Warren School District five years ago. Not only does the school allow students to earn their high school diploma, but they also have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree from Hinds Community College.

Whitney graduated summa cum laude with his associate’s degree from HCC.

While at RCEC, Whitney was a member of the Key Club and Chess Club. He is also an Eagle Scout, a Hinds President Scholar and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.

O’Leary, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from HCC with her associate’s degree, was inducted into Phi Theta Kapa where she served as the Vice President of Treasury. She was a President and Dean’s list scholar and an 1890 USDA Scholar.

O’Leary was a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and the Warren Central High School Track and Field Team.

Whitney said he had not set a goal of becoming valedictorian but was appreciative of those who helped him succeed.

“I would like to thank my amazing teachers and my friends for helping me achieve this honor,” he said.

Like Whitney, O’Leary said, she was not striving for the top spot, but was aiming to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class.

“I never had valedictorian in mind,” O’Leary said, but on achieving the recognition, she said she credited her mother.

“I don’t believe I would be where I am today without her. I especially didn’t believe I would be following in her footsteps and become the valedictorian,” O’Leary said.

Following graduation from RCEC, Whitney said, he plans to attend Mississippi State University, major in electrical engineering and then possibly pursue a master’s degree.

O’Leary has plans to attend Alcorn State University and major in Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I aspire to become a veterinarian and own a veterinary clinic one day,” she said.

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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