Amy Sprague, daughter of Duane and Lisa Sprague, and Breeanna Hickks, daughter of Mindy Hicks, have been recognized as the top seniors at North Hopkins High School.
Five years ago, they were the top two students in their class in junior high, Hicks as valedictorian and Sprague salutatorian. Throughout high school their GPAs continued to be close.
Over the years, a rivalry developed between the two, but a friendly one, as each encouraged and challenged the other to do her best in and outside of class.
“We knew that we were gonna be pretty close,” Sprague said of their final rankings this year.
“I just don’t think we knew it was going to be that close. I was just like, oh I bet we’re going to be a point or so off. But, when she told me, I was like, that’s crazy,” said Hicks
And close they were. Only 0.001 of a point determined which would be valedictorian and which salutatorian of North Hopkins High School Class of 2019.
But, when all was said and done, Sprague’s final GPA was 5.155, making her this year’s top ranking student, and Hicks the second ranking student with a 5.154 GPA.
didn’t bother this year’s North Hopkins High School valedictorian and
Both have been admitted to the Honors College at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where they will room together and, while pursuing different career paths, continue to challenge each other to reach harder and do her best.
Sprague plans earn a master of science in nursing, then work a few yeas as a nurse practitioner until she can apply to Doctors Without Borders.
The NHHS valedictorian said she learned of the organization a few years ago and views it as “such a great opportunity to go and serve the other people, people around the world.”
Sprague already has head start on college, having just received an associates of science degree from Paris Junior College. She said she her mom sat down one day to talk and decided she’d take advantage of the college courses offered while attending high school. She continued each year to take more classes and was able to graduate last week.
In addition to having her first year of tuition paid for being the top student, and other tuition and fees covered through the Honors College, Sprague also was awarded a $32,000 Bright Star Scholarship from the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation, payable in increments of $4,000 a semester up to $8,000 a year for four continuous years.
Hicks will plans to major in theater arts and minor in English, with a goal of becoming an high school teacher.
“I had several teachers in high school that really helped me find what I want to do, and I want to do that for other students,” Hicks said.
She’s been passionate about theater since she, her mom and cousins began getting together to attend “big Broadway shows in Dallas” when she was younger. When given the option to participate in theater in school, she knew it was something she wanted to do.
“It’s so much fun, because for a little bit you get to be somebody else, you get to wear cool clothes and you get to do things you would never get to do in your daily life. So, it’s just really fun to get to escape for a little bit,” Hicks said.
She said she has participated in One Act Play since seventh grade. Over the last two years, she’s earned accolades for her acting. He junior year she earned Best Actress at District and was named an Honorable Mention All Star Cast member at Bi-District OAP competition. This year, she was named to the All Star Cast at District and Honorable Mention at Bi-District.
In addition to the benefits awarded with the Honors College, Hicks also will receive a couple of other awards as well.
As the 2017-18 Hopkins County Fall Festival Cover Girl, Hicks will receive a $1,000 scholarship to apply toward her education.
She said being the Cover Girl, serving the community, attending ribbon cuttings and other social events has been a fun experience. It proved to be a good way to learn a more about Sulphur Springs, was a great opportunity to meet many people in the community. Competing in the contest and being the Cover Girl also helped her gain more confidence in herself while representing the community.
Hicks was notified last week she also will be the recipient of an Alliance Bank scholarship as well.
Sprague says she’s attended North Hopkins ISD since second grade, while Hicks has attended her entire educational career so far.
Hicks said while the idea of going to a different school is a little scary she’s excited to try something new, and is looking forward to fun new experiences.
Sprague says while Commerce is only about 9 miles from home, so moving won’t be that big of a change. She is excited to start the rest of her life, to see where it takes her.
Hicks said if given the opportunity, she’d definitely consider returning to North Hopkins ISD to teach, but isn’t opposed to the idea of living somewhere new either.
Both participated in sports until their sophomore year, then turned their interests elsewhere.
Each also was in Beta, FFA and UIL activities at school.
Sprague has been involved with both Beta and FFA since the seventh grade, serving as a FFA officer all four years of high school. She also had a goat, which she acknowledged was also a lot of work. She said it was fun while it lasted, but now that it’s over, she won’t miss it.
Hicks has been involved with FFA since eight grade, serving as a chapter officer all four years, including as first vice president until May 16, when she passed the torch to another NHHS student.
“Bittersweet because it was such a great experience, but it’ll be fun to have that be a part of my past experience and get to do something new. I’m excited for the new officers they’ll have fun,” the salutatorian said.
In FFA, Hicks raised chickens for five years, a process that’s interesting but a lot of work. She won’t miss having to tend chickens, she said.
Hicks also participated in chapter speaking and was on the chapter conducting team all four years.
Both students credit FFA Advisor Christin Daugherty for the lasting impact she’s had in her life.
“She helped me become such the involved individual that I am today. She helped me with all of my community service and teaching me public speaking. She’s just been such an inspiring role model,” Sprague said.
“She found me as a freshman and really pushed me. I am so glad she did. I would not be where I am right now,” Hicks said.
The salutatorian said theater teacher Jenifer Lucas had a similar impact on her life
“She found me in seventh grade, was like you can do this. She pushed me to do things I never would have tried before,” Hicks said.
She also expressed appreciation to art teacher Paulin Cowling.
“She’s just so great,” Hicks said. “I love Mrs. Cowling.”
Hicks, along with her friend and brother, are advancing to nationals in the Beta technology contest with a video they made focusing on this year’s them “Let Us Lead By Serving Others.” Their video focused on how it helps with leadership in high school.
Beta teaches students to lead by serving others, and they made a video centered on that theme and it advanced, Hicks explained.
Sprague was part of the new FCCLA chapter started at the school two years ago. This year, she competed at the state FCCLA level in recycle and redesign, with the chair she made out of books. She said that was especially useful at the regional contest; while others had to sit on the ground outside the door to the event, she was able to use her chair all day.
The idea, she was born of one of her passions and the need for her project to send a message regarding an issue of importance.
“Books have always been one of my secret pleasures. I love to read. I’m an avid reader. Then, once I started thinking about it, I wanted to make an impact on something. Once I started thinking about it, deforestation is a huge problem in our world. I wanted to have a saying like look what else you can do. You don’t have to throw away all of these products of wood,” Sprague said.
Sprague also participated in One Act Play this year as a cast member, helping advance the play from district.
Hicks has also been involved in academic UIL in prose and editorial writing, placing fifth in the latter.
The top students said their achievements came with hard work and determination.
Their advice to others students hoping to also be successful:
“Do the best that you can do,” Sprague advises.
“Make yourself a goal. That’s the most important thing, having something to work for. It comes with sacrifice, so you have to know what you’re willing to give up to know what you’re working towards. You give up things when your’e involved. We’re probably busy every other Saturday. Most high school kids probably aren’t willing to give up their Saturday. That’s something you have to think about when you make a goal like we have. It’s a commitment,” Hicks said.