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Jaelyn Matthews - Valedictorian

Zariyah Russell – Salutatorian

Hampton City Schools announces top students in the Class of 2021 at Bethel High School

Jaelyn Matthews - Valedictorian

Matthews’ activities include serving as treasurer of the National Honor Society, Student Council Association president, student mentor, girls varsity tennis captain, Distinctive Youth Foundation, Inc., and New Grace Church youth volunteer.

She was accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill, James Madison University, George Mason University, Howard University, the College of William & Mary, Delaware State University, and Old Dominion University. Matthews has decided to attend George Mason University and major in applied computer science. Upon college graduation she hopes to work in software development.

Fondest high school memory:
“(My fondest memory is) being able to help implement Bethel High School’s first dance for self-contained students.”

A tradition at your school you will miss:
“(I will miss) basketball games and pep rally days.”

An achievement you are most proud of:
“(I am most proud of) being valedictorian, which seems obvious, but it was a goal that I set for myself freshman year. I have maintained first rank in my class all four years of high school, so reaching my goals means a lot.”

I am proud to be an HCS graduate because:
“Being that I was born and raised in Hampton, I have been brought up and supported through this school system. It means a lot to be able to conclude my secondary education here as well.”

If you could thank a teacher who had the greatest impact on you, who would it be and why?
“One person who has made a significant impact in my life, especially in recent years, is Ms. Gee. Ms. Gee was my Spanish teacher for three years and is the SCA advisor. I never truly understood what a mentor was and how important they are until I met her. I had a hard time adjusting to high school my freshman year, but she was always checking on me and making sure to include me in class. She saw potential in me before I saw it in myself. Since freshman year, we have grown closer and she has supported me in every decision I have made and every step I have taken. Ms. Gee has opened so many doors and opportunities for me. She has always gone out of her way to help me and make sure I am taken care of, and she helped me grow into the out-going student I am now. On paper she may just be a teacher or advisor but to me she is so much more.”

Zariyah Russell – Salutatorian

Russell’s activities include serving as drum major of the marching band, Student Council Association executive member, National Honor Society, volunteer with the American Legion, symphonic band, Community Leader Fellowship for Eastern Virginia Youth, and tutor.

She was accepted to New York University, George Mason University, Howard University, Spelman College, Virginia Commonwealth University, North Carolina A&T University, and the College of William & Mary. Russell will attend George Mason University and major in either business or engineering.

Fondest high school memory:
“My fondest memory is definitely marching band assessment during my junior year.”

A tradition at your school you will miss:
“My favorite tradition would definitely be the pep rallies we have every year.”

An achievement you are most proud of:
“(I am most proud of) either earning first chair trumpet player or becoming drum major after only one year in marching band.”

I am proud to be an HCS graduate because:
“I have gone to school in Hampton for all of my life, so it feels good to know that I was able to graduate from the same place I started.”

If you could thank a teacher who had the greatest impact on you, who would it be and why?
“(I would thank) Ms. Gee because I have known her all four years of high school (first as my teacher and later through SCA) and she is one of the teachers who has always been in my corner.”

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As stated in School Board Policy AC and GBA, Hampton City Schools (“HCS”) does not discriminate with regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, disability, ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, child birth or related medical conditions, status as a veteran, genetic information, or other characteristic protected by law in its programs, activities and employment practices and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.  

HCS also prohibits retaliation under School Board Policy GBAB for the purpose of interfering with a person’s rights and/or privileges under federal civil rights laws, which can include: (i) raising concerns with Division personnel about a civil rights violation; (ii) asserting a right or advocating for the rights of a student or employee under federal civil rights laws; or (iii) participating in a complaint investigation or related proceedings. 

All individuals are encouraged to promptly report any incident they believe to be discrimination, harassment or retaliation in violation of HCS School Board Policy.  All reports should be made to the HCS Compliance Officer, who also serves as the HCS Executive Director of Human Resources and Title IX/ADA Coordinator.  Upon receiving a report of alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation, the Compliance Officer shall promptly authorize an investigation into the complaint, determine whether the alleged act occurred, and determine whether any action must be taken to end or prevent further harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.  For more information about this process, please review the Formal Resolution Process and/or Informal Resolution Process.    

Should you have any questions about these procedures or the contents of this notice, please contact:

Executive Director of Human Resources
Title IX and ADA Coordinator
Department of Human Resources
One Franklin Street
Hampton, VA 23669
(757) 727-2300



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Our continuing goal is for the HCS website to be accessible to individuals with disabilities in compliance with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and that statute's implementing regulations at 34 C.F.R. Part 104, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and that statute's implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 35.

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