Piedmont is proud to spotlight Hannah Loftin, the class of 2023’s valedictorian, headed for North Carolina State University this fall. Extracurricular activities have shaped who Hannah is as a student at Piedmont. As President of Student Council, Hannah can be seen as the emcee of school pep rallies, leading service events, and always demonstrating school spirit. “Hannah has been very instrumental in creating a culture of enjoyment and respect among our school community members,” praises High School Director, Mrs. Huffstetler. “She is an outstanding student with extremely high academic and personal goals.”
Even before finishing high school, Hannah completed her Associate of Arts degree through Gaston College thanks to her tuition-free College Now coursework. As she moves on to NC State University where she was accepted into their Teaching Fellows Program, she plans to concentrate on high school math education to become a math teacher, and eventually earn her master’s degree in School Administration. “My teachers have played a major role in my life. I want to be a teacher so I can help students who may need a figure in their life that cares and wants them to succeed.”
Hannah is also a PCCS athlete, helping her team to conference championships in varsity volleyball, soccer, and tennis. She is a member of the Kind Minds Club, Bible Club, National Honor Society, and Multicultural Club. She also participates on her church’s Servant Leadership Team and teaches third grade Sunday School. She is consistently on the A Honor Roll and earned a Junior Marshal position at last year’s senior graduation.
This year, Hannah is graduating at the top of her class. Throughout her dedication to academics, she has made time to prioritize her extracurricular activities at Piedmont. Her advice for rising high school students is to “Get involved! There is something for everyone. It helps to get to know others and meet a lot of new people and is how I made some of my most memorable moments.”
A thoughtful, effective communicator, Hannah Loftin exemplifies honor, integrity, and responsibility. Piedmont congratulates Hannah on earning the distinction of class valedictorian. She is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Ava Stratman will attend Gardner-Webb University this fall and plans to study Exercise Science or Kinesiology. An accomplished athlete at PCCS, Ava’s goal after college is to become a physical therapist. This career path is one that combines two of her interests: the sciences and helping people.
Ava recalls Anatomy and Physiology as her favorite class at Piedmont where she could learn about the human body and do hands-on labs. Her teacher, Mr. Cope describes her as “one of the brightest students I’ve had at Piedmont! Ava was always prepared and ready to learn everyday.” She is an active participant of her youth group at church on the Servant Leader Team, and a member of Piedmont’s Bible Club, Junior Heart Board, Student Council, and National Honor Society. Ava is an academically strong student, earning Academic Excellence awards for Honors Pre-Calculus and Physics, as well as consistent A Honor Roll awards.
Ava played varsity volleyball and soccer all four years of high school, earning MVP distinction. As the definition of a student athlete, she was the recipient of the 2022-2023 PCCS Scholar Athlete award which includes a $1,500 college scholarship. This honor recognizes two top seniors who reflect what it means to be a student first, and a leader in high school athletics. Ava Stratman is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Mya Tharp will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. From there, this Piedmont senior hopes to become a Formula 1 racing engineer. “Since fourth grade, I’ve wanted to design cars,” Mya says. “Fast cars have always fascinated me and so has traveling.” Mya plans to major in mechanical engineering in order to pursue this dream.
Mya recently won the PCCS Sportsmanship Award. She has participated in tennis, where she earned the Trailblazer Award, as well as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball throughout high school. Her favorite class at Piedmont was her Team Sports class where “everyone was competitive so it made playing games fun!”
Mya’s competitive spirit has kept her in the top five percent of the class of 2023. She is a member of National Honor Society and was a Junior Marshal at last year’s senior graduation ceremony, a prestigious position for the highest ranked students. She is a leader, voted her Senior Class President, and gives back to the school and community through Junior Heart Board, Multicultural Club, and Bible Club. National Honor Society adviser, Mrs. Goodson describes Mya as a “ray of sunshine with such a positive demeanor. She is always willing to help go above and beyond with any projects.”
Ambitious and innovative, Mya is sure to have an exciting road ahead. Her years as a Patriot have helped shape her as intellectually curious and a critical thinker. Mya Tharp is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Siya Patel plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. As a Piedmont Patriot, Siya works diligently to stand out among the top of her senior class. Teachers describe her as a “young woman with vision and determination” who is goal-oriented, focused, and a leader among her peers.
While Siya makes academics a priority, she has also dedicated her time and compassion to volunteer around Gaston County. She loves working in the planetarium at the Schiele Museum and being involved in their educational summer programs where she serves as a role model for young children. In addition, Siya has volunteered for the Gaston County Public Library and the Special Olympics, one of her favorite opportunities this year where she was able to give back to her community.
Siya was voted captain of the PCCS ladies’ tennis team, earning praise from her coach for the “smile on her face” and her excellent attitude. She led her peers through long matches in the heat and made it a point to stay until the end and cheer on all of her teammates. Siya’s school commitments showcase her admirable accomplishments from her involvement with National Honor Society, Multicultural Club, Environmental Club, and Jr. Heart Board, to her consistent presence on the A Honor Roll and the Gaston College President’s List through her CCP coursework.
At UNC Chapel Hill, Siya intends to major in Computer Science and go on to work as a software engineer for a tech company. Her English teacher at Piedmont, Mrs. Alexander, characterizes her as “inquisitive, self-motivated, and conscientious.” An outstanding student with strong character and a commendable work ethic, Siya Patel is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Grady Tippett will attend North Carolina State University this fall in the College of Engineering. Admission to this program is competitive and Grady stands out among the class of 2023 as a hard-working and sharp-minded student ready to excel in his next challenge.
At Piedmont, Grady is very involved. He is on the Jr. Heart Board and serves as Treasurer of National Honor Society. He has been recognized for his academic achievements in Math 3 Honors, consistently on the Honor Roll, and was selected as a Junior Marshal at last year’s graduation ceremony. He has also been a Patriot since kindergarten!
Teachers describe him as organized and dedicated. Grady was instrumental in helping to establish the innovative eSports team at PCCS. “Grady may be quiet, but don’t let that fool you,” says Piedmont history teacher Mrs. Starnes. “He adds so much to a class when he offers his insight. Grady is a great student and a great person. He has such a bright future ahead!”
PCCS is proud to recognize Grady Tippett as one of this year’s top seniors. Academically outstanding, purposeful and goal-oriented, Grady is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Emma Caldwell will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. Her love for science and interest in the healthcare field has inspired her to pursue a degree studying Pre-Medicine. She intends to further her education and experience to ultimately earn a doctorate and become a midwife, working with women and children.
“High school will fly by,” warns senior Emma Caldwell, ranked among the top of the PCCS class of 2023. “And you want to be able to enjoy all the fantastic memories that come along with it.” She advises rising ninth graders to “focus on your academics, but don’t be afraid to live your life.” Emma’s dedication to the different facets of Piedmont that define our core values – academics, character, and community – is what makes her one of our outstanding Patriots.
Emma has served as a mentor for young people, working with the local YMCA and assisting the middle school cheerleading team. She’s the Captain of the PCCS varsity cheerleaders and won the Coach’s Award for varsity cheer. Emma is consistently recognized on the Patriot Pride Honor Roll along with various academic achievements. She was named a Junior Marshal at last year’s senior graduation ceremony, and is a member of National Honor Society, Kind Minds Club, and Bible Club.
Throughout her years at Piedmont, Emma has taken an active role in our school’s community. As a member of the yearbook staff, she finds ways to showcase Piedmont’s student life and encourage pride in our school. Art teacher and yearbook adviser, Mrs. Williams notes that, “Emma is a wonderful example of a highly motivated student who takes initiative in her own learning. She cares a lot about her educational growth, as well as making school the best it can be for her peers.”
Emma has made a positive impact on PCCS and will continue to affect and help others as she continues beyond our halls. Equipped to be an effective and productive citizen, Emma Caldwell is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
Matthew Pineda’s involvement in student activities at Piedmont is impressive. Not only is he among the top of his senior class, consistently recognized for his outstanding academic achievements, Matthew has also been dedicated to his talent for music. He plays clarinet in the PCCS Wind Ensemble and has played with the Belmont Abbey Athletic Band, Winthrop University through their invitational clinic, the Gaston Symphonic Band, and the Charlotte Concert Band. He was selected for All-District and All-State Honors Band, and is an active member of Junior Heart Board, National Honor Society, and Student Council.
Matthew has been instrumental in establishing the first eSports team at Piedmont with the help of History teacher, Mr. Richards. “Matthew is a natural leader,” commends Mr. Richards, “who is patient enough to let everyone have a say, yet confident enough to maintain and express his personal convictions.” Anyone who has been around Matthew at Piedmont (a Patriot since kindergarten!) would praise his compassion, maturity, and friendly, polite nature. He is easy to get along with, motivated, and a role model to his peers.
This fall, Matthew Pineda plans to attend Belmont Abbey in the Honors College program to pursue a degree in either Biochemistry or Healthcare Management. “Science and technology have always been interesting to me,” says Matthew. “And I want to be able to help people in some way.” When asked his advice for rising high school freshmen, he reminds them, “Be kind to everyone. You never know what someone else is going through. If you have the opportunity to make someone’s day, why wouldn’t you?” Purposeful, goal-oriented, and adaptable, Matthew Pineda is the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
This May, Peyton Hamlin will graduate among the top of her senior class as a shining example of Piedmont’s Core Values of academics, character, and community. Throughout her years at Piedmont, she has been inspired to seek out new knowledge that will help her achieve her goals.
Peyton loves science, especially chemistry and anatomy. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in healthcare. “I really love helping people in need and I love everything about science and how the body works,” Peyton affirms. “One activity that shaped my high school experience was when I volunteered for the Special Olympics. I was able to help a young man who normally wouldn’t be able to achieve these athletic goals. It was incredibly rewarding, humbling, and the most fun I had in high school.”
A well-rounded student, Peyton played for the PCCS varsity girls’ volleyball team from ninth through eleventh grade where she was awarded All Conference and Offensive MVP two years in a row. She is consistently recognized for Patriot Pride on the A Honor Roll and has received academic excellence awards in both AP English and Chemistry. At last year’s graduation, Peyton had the honor of serving as a Junior Marshal.
Along with several other universities, Peyton has been accepted to her top choices of UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she intends to work as a travel nurse and is open to the possibility of continuing her education with a master’s degree in order to become a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist).
A Patriot since kindergarten, Peyton cherishes the memories she has made at Piedmont from Bible Club to athletics, to her academic opportunities through the College Now program. The personal connections and experiences she had made here as a student reflect her empathy and a true learner’s mindset. These are qualities that make up the portrait of a Piedmont graduate.
What does that mean? U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best High Schools badges are awarded to those whose attendees demonstrated outstanding outcomes above expectations in math and reading state assessments, passed a diverse array of college-level exams and graduated in high proportions.