COVINGTON, Va. (VR) – Lauren Bragg has been named valedictorian, and Aubrey Brown and Erica Spinks are co-salutatorians of the Covington High School Class of 2023.
Bragg will be the last valedictorian in the history of Covington High School. And in a rare occurrence, Brown and Spinks are co-salutatorians.
The daughter of Jim and Lisa Salyards Bragg of Covington, Lauren Bragg will attend Bluefield University in the fall and major in pre-law and political science. On May 18 — the day before her graduation — she will sign a letter of intent to play basketball for the Bluefield Rams. The team competes on the Division II level.
“My years at Covington High School will always be memorable. I have grown tremendously in my five years at CHS. The teachers have helped give me a solid foundation academically that will prepare me for the future. I have made friends who will last for a lifetime,” Bragg said.
She has been highly involved in extracurricular activities at CHS, including basketball, softball and volleyball. She has also been active in the Model General Assembly and Youth Government Club and Beta Club.
Bragg has served as a volunteer at Lone Star Advent Christian Church and Camp Accovac. She has also carried out work in the community through her membership in the Beta Club. The Beta Club strives to promote academic achievement, character, leadership and community service in the lives of its members.
Bragg said CHS teachers Steven Huffman and Michelle Reid were instrumental in her success as a student. She also credits her basketball coach, Ryan Kessinger, for helping to influence her decision to attend Bluefield University. Huffman and Reid teach social studies. In addition to coaching, Kessinger serves as a physical education teacher.
“Mr. Huffman and Mrs. Reid helped make me grow more confident, and they prepared me for the future. They helped me set a very high standard on my career goals. I owe Mr. Kessinger a great deal of credit for helping me get all of my college stuff worked out.”
Bragg aspires to be an attorney.
One of Bragg’s best friends, Aubrey Brown, will join her on stage at the CHS graduation as one of the salutatorians.
Brown, the daughter of Lee and Joyce Brown of Covington, will attend Roanoke College in the fall to study pre-physical therapy. A standout athlete during her years at CHS, she recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Roanoke College Maroons. Roanoke is an NCAA Division III member competing in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
“My years at CHS have taught me perseverance. The teachers did a very nice job of preparing me for my future,” said Brown, who gave special recognition to three CHS teachers — Reid, Tracey Spangler and Melissa Tetrealt. She also cites the impact that her volleyball coach, Mary Tyree, had on her life. Tyree recently retired from Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. She taught physical education. Spangler and Tetrealt are math teachers.
“They were always there for me when I seemed to be having a rough time,” Brown said of her teachers and coach. “They always believed in me. They’re great.”
Although her sports career has been primarily devoted to volleyball, Brown played softball in her freshman year. She has been part of traveling volleyball teams to sharpen her skills as a player, and she has helped coach volleyball to youths in the Roanoke area.
Brown has served her community as a member of the Beta Club and through work at Greenwood Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Alleghany County.
Her work as an intern at Ridgeline Physical Therapy in Low Moor helped shape her decision to become a physical therapist.
“I like helping people. My internship at Ridgeline helped me learn to do certain things to help people regain their strength,” Brown said.
Co-salutatorian Erica Spinks has played volleyball at CHS, served as color guard captain and held memberships in the Spanish Club, the Beta Club and the Mock General Assembly/Student Government.
“My years at CHS have been very eventful. My experience here has been very humbling and exciting. There have been a lot of ups and downs, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath,” said Spinks, a daughter of Missy Wolfe of Covington.
Spinks, who aspires to be a physician’s assistant, will attend Mountain Gateway Community College in Clifton Forge for one year and then transfer to a four-year college or university.
It was through her participation in Advanced Healthcare Pathways, a pioneer program that was offered by AHPS in the current school year, that Spinks made her career choice.
The program was coordinated through a partnership with Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. The program exposed students to potential healthcare careers that required advanced education and training while also providing students with a wealth of resources on career options.
“It was through this program that I really fell in love with the idea of being a physician’s assistant,” Spinks said.
She says the two teachers who greatly influenced her as a student are Christina Linsin, who teaches English, and Micara McVay, who teaches world language.
Outside of school, Spinks does volunteer work at Bethesda Church in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She has assisted with Vacation Bible School at Mount Carmel United Methodist Church in Covington and also served as a volunteer with the Alleghany Highlands Christmas Mother Program.
The Covington High School Class of 2023 will graduate on Friday, May 19, at 7 p.m. The ceremony will be held in Curfman Hall.
The following morning, May 20, Alleghany High School will hold its commencement exercises at 10 a.m. at Mountaineer Field. In the near future, AHPS will announce the names of the valedictorian and salutatorian for the AHS Class of 2023.
Both Alleghany and Covington high schools will mark milestones with their 2023 graduations. Both graduations represent the final graduations for the current iterations of the high schools. Additionally, the graduations are the first fully typical graduations since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, school and division leaders have made the decision to continue significant traditions at both schools. Individuals in the community may notice ceremonial differences between the two schools as a result. Alleghany High School, the high school for all Alleghany Highlands Public Schools students in grades 9-12 beginning in the fall, will announce more about what to expect at graduations to AHS stakeholders in the fall of 2023.