Vicksburg High School honors 2022 valedictorian, salutatorian

Published 11:07 am Friday, June 3, 2022

At a young age, both Marquasia Keionna Smith and Jannifer Katelin Banks had aspirations of graduating at the top of their class, and both reached their goals.

Smith was named valedictorian and Banks salutatorian of Vicksburg High School’s 2022 graduating class.

Smith, who is the daughter of Alysha Brown and Alfred Smith, said she was “speechless” after learning she had earned the top spot in her graduating class.

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“I didn’t know what to say, owing to the fact that the very thing that I have always been working towards was being rewarded to me,” Smith said. “I have always dreamed about being valedictorian and have been working and thriving to receive the title I have always wanted.”

Smith said it had been hard work and perseverance that paid off.

“I pursued my goal by studying extra hours, and I would also ask numerous questions in class if I didn’t assimilate the information that was being presented to me so that I could ace any upcoming test,” she said.

In addition to graduating with a 4.400 GPA and being named valedictorian, Smith said, she also received various school awards including The Mississippi Scholars Award, the Leadership Award, Mu Alpha Theta President Award, 4-H Club Secretary Award, National Honor Society Vice President Award and the Highest Average in DC Western Civilization Award. Smith was also inducted into the Vicksburg High School Hall of Fame.

With the desire to continue her studies following her high school graduation, Smith said she devoted many hours applying to schools and for scholarships and in doing so, received a total of $512,000 in scholarships from various schools.

No doubt, these scholarships were awarded due not only to her GPA but also for her extracurricular activities, which included serving on the Chick-Fil-A Leadership Academy. Smith was also a member of the 4-H Club, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society and the Mississippi State Superintendent Student Advisory Council.

“I also played Varsity Basketball in 9th through 11th grade,” she said.

While she had options as to the college she would be attending, Smith decided on Mississippi State University where she plans on majoring in software engineering, with hopes of one day working for a major firm like Microsoft.

Smith credited her successes to not only hard work, but also to God and family and friends.

“I would just love to thank and honor God because without him none of this would have been possible. I would also like to thank my family and friends for encouraging and believing in me,” she said.

Banks named 2022 VHS Salutatorian

Banks, who is the daughter of Marshall D. And Jannifer K. Banks, is graduating with a 4.362 GPA.

In learning she had been named salutatorian of her graduating class, Banks said, “I was overwhelmed with joy. I cried because I had worked so hard to get to this point. Coming into high school I had a plan to finish top of my class.”

“My brother, Marshall, graduated third in his class in 2016, which set the bar high for me,” Banks said. “I told my parents and counselors what my goals were. They assisted me with my class schedules to ensure that I took challenging courses.”

And with their help and a lot of hard work, Banks was able to “bolster” her GPA.

“I would like to thank my parents and my family for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself and for always reminding me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I would also like to thank my teachers throughout the years for challenging me and motivating me to do better,” Banks said.

While at VHS, Banks was a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Key Club. She was a member of the student council, the varsity cheer squad, 4-H and was a Student Ambassador.

Banks plans to attend Jackson State University and major in civil engineering.

“I hope to one day own my own engineering firm,” 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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