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Valley’s No. 1 student was hungry for top spot

VALLEY — A competitive drive and hunger drove Ariton Bailey to become this year’s top student at Valley High School.

The Community Center lifeguard also understands the added responsibility that comes with the title.

“I know from past years I’ve met and talked to a couple of valedictorians, and they always say the same thing — ‘it’s an honor,’” Bailey said. “It’s definitely an honor. It’s definitely a lot to think about, especially to come up with a speech for graduation. It’s definitely a lot of responsibility to have that I didn’t think I’d have to be prepared for.”

Bailey said his plan for his speech was to throw in some of the humor that his fellow classmates knew him for during his time in high school.

Bailey walked the stage on Monday in Ram Stadium with a 4.68 grade point average. He also scored a 31 on the ACT. It was a night the freshman version of himself wouldn’t have imagined.

“When I was 14, I had a lot of different things on my mind than whether I was going to be valedictorian or if I was actually going to be looked up to by anyone,” Bailey said. “Now that I’m here, it’s a bit of a shock, to be honest.”

While at Valley, Bailey was a member of the football, soccer and cross country teams, while serving on the yearbook staff, Rambassadors, Mu Alpha Theta,  Beta Club, Honors Society and Student Government Association.

“It definitely taught me a lot about discipline if anything,” Bailey said. “Especially with sports like football and soccer, it taught me the discipline to know how to segment my time the best way I needed to and how to actually get to work when I needed to do it. Also having a job has taught me how to manage time the best way I can, and understand the responsibilities that I have as a student to make my grades the best that they can be.”

Bailey is headed to Auburn University in the fall.

Bailey said while at college he will miss the people in Valley, who make the area special.

“The administrators not only care about our education, but how much we enjoy being there,” he said. “They definitely put in a lot of work to make sure we enjoy our time there.”

Bailey’s life goal is to make an impact on society in a “monumental” way. His parting words to the community challenged Valley to continue trending in the right direction.

“Stay faithful and be very supportive of the people that we have in our school system because from what I can tell, they’re all trying their best,” Bailey said.

“The more support they have from the community …  the better off they’ll be.”