Laymon, DeRidder top students at Neal

Published 10:00 am Monday, May 23, 2011

The senior class at W.S. Neal High School will gather for the last time as a group Friday night for graduation ceremonies held in the school’s auditorium.

During the ceremony, the class valedictorian and salutatorian will offer words of wisdom and encouragement for fellow classmates.

Cody Alexander Laymon earned the valedictorian title for his academic achievements at the school

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Layman, the son of Susan Howell and Jeff Laymon, has chosen a path for his future in a spiritual direction.

“I plan on going to college and becoming a preacher,” Laymon said. “I’m going to South Africa this summer but in 20 years I can see myself building churches and spreading the Word of God around the U.S.”

Tina Nicole DeRidder, the daughter of Gwen and O.H. Smith and Jeff and Emily DeRidder, serves as the class salutatorian. Memories of the school and fellow classmates are an important part of her life, she said.

“My favorite memory in high school is the honor of performing at Disney’s Main Street parade with the rest of the band,” DeRidder said.

DeRidder’s plans for her future include a college education that will allow her to teach others.

“I plan to attend Jefferson Davis Community College to receive my associates degree,” DeRidder said. “Then transfer to Troy University to obtain my degree in secondary education.”

DeRidder said she hopes to be a published author and a successful teacher in 20 years.

Laymon has had an active career at W.S. Neal High School having participated in tennis and as a member of the Youth Alive band.

DeRidder’s activities have include being a member of the W.S. Neal Marching Band, second lieutenant band officer, senior class treasure, a member of the National Honor Society, Future Teachers of America and Mu Alpha Theta.

Each of the top two seniors has words of advice to pass on to those who remain at W.S. Neal High School.

Laymon’s advice to remaining students includes words of encouragement and memories.

“Never give up,” Laymon said. “The thing I’ll miss most about high school will be my friends.”

DeRidder told incoming seniors to have fun and work hard.

“Study hard and plan for the long term,” DeRidder said. “But, enjoy your senior year, because you will blink and it’s over. I’ll miss the band and the support I received from my wonderful teachers.”

W.S. Neal High School’s graduation ceremonies will be held at the school auditorium on Andrew Jackson Street in East Brewton. Ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. with Dr. Kenneth Burnham as the guest speaker for the evening.

Tickets are required to be admitted for the ceremony, school officials said.