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Standout Seniors Luncheon Highlights Class of 2024's Achievements

June 8, 2024

Cumberland County Schools (CCS) hosted a Standout Seniors Luncheon on Thursday to honor the exceptional achievements of the graduating Class of 2024. Recent CCS graduates, families, school administrators, district leaders and Board of Education members gathered at the Embassy Suites in Fayetteville to celebrate this milestone.


Launched in 2019 by the district's Communications and Community Engagement Department, the Standout Seniors Program highlights the remarkable stories of outstanding students who are poised to make a difference in the world.


The highlight of the luncheon was the Standout Senior Reflections and Awards segment. Each of the distinguished graduates took to the podium to share their future aspirations, followed by the presentation of a special token of recognition from CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr.


Read about their plans below:

  • Cameron Bebeau: "Following high school graduation, I plan to attend Fayetteville State University where I will study media communications and relations with a minor in finance."
  • Jayla Foxx: "I'm already doing my associates with FTCC... I'm going to pursue my doctorate in nanosystems engineering."
  • Emily Haynes: "Following high school, I'm going to Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte to get my baking and arts associate degree, and from there hopefully owning my own bakery in Wilmington."
  • Maleia Leigh: "After high school, I plan to attend UNCW in the honors college and major in business."
  • Madison McDaniel: "In the fall, I will be attending UNC Charlotte, majoring in nursing."
  • Khedrae McDowell: "In the future, I would love to attend Fayetteville State University, majoring in psychology and hopefully get my master's degree to become a therapist."
  • O'Shea Shephard: "I'll be taking my efforts to North Carolina A&T where I'll become a computer engineer and hopefully spend the rest of my life helping other people."
  • Bryan Tillman: "I plan to attend Winston-Salem State University as a Chancellor's Scholar, which means a full ride. I plan to major in business and finance."
  • Meredith Wenthur: "I plan on graduating from Pitt in the next three years. I already graduated with an Associate of Science, so all my credits can transfer. I also plan to do a study abroad program. I want to go into the criminal justice program as a forensic scientist or become a nurse and anesthesiologist."
  • Alexandra Zitterich: "I plan to attend Michigan State University to study mechanical engineering with a concentration in aerospace."


Michael Henry, a proud alumnus of Reid Ross Classical School's Class of 2019 and part of the inaugural group of Standout Seniors, served as the keynote speaker. A recent graduate of Morehouse College, Henry is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Pepperdine University. He shared his inspiring journey and motivated the Standout Seniors to pursue their dreams with resilience and determination. He also spoke about his personal journey and how CCS prepared him academically for his future. "Remember the power of yet, and that you are not defined by your setbacks, but by your unwavering belief in your potential," said Henry.


During the event, the audience was treated to a beautiful musical rendition of "A Whole New World," performed by Toccara Patrick, a music teacher at Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary, and Jared Miller, a music teacher at Westarea Elementary, setting an inspiring tone for the afternoon.


CCS' Associate Superintendent of Communications and Community Engagement, Dr. Lindsay Whitley, concluded the event by sharing well wishes for the graduates and their futures. "We wish you all the very best as you embark on your next chapters," said Whitley.


To find detailed profiles of each of this year's Standout Seniors, visit


Group of recent graduates with Superintendent of Schools  CCS alum speaks to recent graduates  Recent CCS graduates with the associate superintendent