The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

July 11, 2014

Alcoa awards valedictorians scholarships

Thursday, July 10, 2014 — Nearly a month after graduation and in the middle of summer vacation, Stanly County Schools’ valedictorians were summoned for one more assignment before going off to college.

They were invited to a Wednesday luncheon in their honor sponsored by Alcoa. The company invited the five high  school valedictorians and their guests to Badin Inn for lunch in celebration of their receipt of Alcoa scholarships for their top academic performances at their respective schools.

“If you’re able to get to that level now, your future is bright,” Mark Gross, Alcoa’s hydro-operations manager, said when announcing the scholarships.

Alcoa funded $500 scholastic scholarships for each valedictorian, with the proceeds forwarded directly to their respective universities.

Gross, a mechanical engineering graduate at North Carolina State University, took the opportunity to rub in the fact that three of the valedictorians were heading to his college alma mater.

Adam Linwood Faulkner, South Stanly’s valedictorian, is set to attend N.C. State in the fall, as is North Stanly top senior Jesi Shyanne Parker. Albemarle High’s valedictorian Samantha Grace Blue has enrolled early at N.C. State in an effort to get a head start courtesy of summer school.

Blue’s father, Terry, was on hand to accept his daughter’s honor.

Talk of N.C. State’s academic prowess did not intimidate Luke Griffin of West Stanly, who proudly touted his commitment to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall. Griffin wants to double major in business administration and environmental science.

Faulkner plans to enter State’s engineering department.

Ironically, Faulkner’s grandfather, Arlie Hathcock, who along with the teen’s mother, Pam, attended the luncheon, is a retired Alcoa employee. He worked for the company for 34 years.

Parker is also considering engineering, but appears to be leaning toward a science-related discipline.

“I plan to major in some kind of science, but I have not declared. I’ll figure it out,” Parker said.

 Only three of the valedictorians were able to make the luncheon, with Blue in summer school and Becka JoAnn Crayton, Stanly Early College’s valedictorian, and her family away on vacation.

Crayton plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall.

While this is the first year Alcoa has sponsored a luncheon for the valedictorians, it marks the second year the company has presented each valedictorian with scholarships. Alcoa assumed the gesture after budget restraints caused the school system to discontinue funding its top graduates with the annual award.

“We want to give back to the community and keep that tradition going,” Gross said.

“I’m really big on helping students. You have a greater impact when you help young people.”

Alcoa has donated $4 million to the community over the course of 20 years, Gross said.

Attending the luncheon on behalf of the school system were Sandra Carter, assistant superintendent, and Shawn Britt, principal at South Stanly High.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email


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