The Transylvania Times -

BHS Provides Welcoming Family Atmosphere


June 3, 2019

When Jackson Whitt and Cullen Duval began their freshmen years at Brevard High School, they were not well known. Whitt and his family had just moved to Brevard from a small town in Wisconsin. Duval, who had attended Brevard Elementary School, had attended middle school in Asheville.

“When I first came here, I was 4-11,” said Whitt of his height. “I had no friends. I was nervous as all get out.”

“I kind of knew all of the students, but I hadn’t been here in three years. So, coming in as a freshman I was still kind of relearning who everybody was,” said Duval. “At first, it was challenging to reform those bonds.”

Thanks to some extracurricular activities and some compassionate teachers, the two quickly felt at home at BHS.

In the summer prior to his freshman year, Duval attended the TIME Science program in the morning where he did research with other students. In the afternoon, he attended soccer practice.

“That was my way to first meet students. That’s how I was able to first develop my friend groups,” said Duval.

Whitt, who has since grown much taller, played basketball, through which he developed his first group of friends. Whitt said Jacob Miner was one of his first friends at Brevard.

“He really helped me gain confidence in myself, just being myself. It’s OK if I’m kind of quirky. We’re all quirky in our own ways,” said Whitt.

As with all new students, the first day of school is important. For both Duval and Whitt, the first class of the first day helped set the tone for their high school careers.

Coming from a small community in Wisconsin with a high school of roughly 70 students compared to BHS with its 700 students, Whitt thought the teachers would not have a personal interest in their students. That idea, however, was dispelled when he entered Erica Thompson’s first period math class.

“The time she took to help me through my first day really helped my confidence,” said Whitt.

Duval had a similar experience when he entered Dolly McCall’s business class that same period and she showed great kindness toward her students.

“That kindness has just lasted throughout the four years,” said Duval. “So now we have this great bond.”

Duval said that even though BHS has 700 students, the school is a community where all feel welcome.

“There is this sense of interdependence. Everyone is happy to be your friend. All the teachers are extremely outgoing,” said Duval. “Teachers and students will reach out to you. I think that’s what makes it so easy to quickly get involved in things.”

Duval got involved with student council immediately and was elected vice president of the freshmen class. He was elected class president both his sophomore and junior years and this year he has served as student body president.

“I think when I was first elected it was a moment of pure happiness, a little bit of nerves and then quickly trying to get to work and doing what I could to help the school,” said Duval of being elected student body president. “It was just a great experience and I’m so happy to have had that opportunity.”

In addition to those leadership positions, Duval has been a member of the tennis and soccer teams, TIME Science research program, FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and National Honor Society.

While Whitt’s focus was mainly on basketball, he also was a member of student council, National Honor Society and FBLA, as well as being elected president of the senior class.

“I felt honored,” said Whitt of being elected class president. “I was excited to represent the Class of 2019. If you would’ve told me that my freshman year, I thought that was never going to happen.”

His growth was the result not only of friendships with classmates, but also encouragement by faculty members.

Whitt said two of his most memorable teachers are science teacher Andrew Lindsey and basketball and football coach Jonathan Owen. He said Lindsey has a true love of his subject and students while Owen sacrificed so much time to coach and teach.

“I would love to be like him,” said Whitt of Owen. “I would love to become a basketball coach.”

Whitt, however, said he plans to attend Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania to study business administration and then go into marketing or sales.

Similarly, one of Duval’s teachers piqued his interest in business.

“She (McCall) was the one who got me interested in doing something in business and got me involved with FBLA,” said Duval, who plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall and double major in business management and marketing.

But teachers who teach subjects students are not interested in also have an impact. For Duval, that was math teacher Adria Hardy.

“Math isn’t a subject that I’m particularly interested in,” said Duval. “It’s a struggle for me, but she’s just one of the happiest and most encouraging people I’ve met in my life. No matter what’s going on, if you’re having a bad day, she can always make that day better. I’m so thankful for that.”

Indeed, for both Duval and Whitt, it is the academic and personal support provided outside the classroom that makes BHS special.

“The extra effort that teachers will make to help us has just been an inspiration to me,” said Whitt. “I see the teachers do that on a daily basis just so they can see us succeed.”

Both Duval and Whitt also cherish their athletic experiences.

“Basketball has definitely been a huge part of my time here at Brevard,” said Whitt, who added the love and support former head coach David Siniard provided made him become more confident. In his sophomore year, the JV basketball team went undefeated at home and 21-4 for the season.

“That was just awesome,” said Whitt.

Duvall said it was a great experience to play on tennis teams that made deep runs into the state playoffs throughout his high school career.

“It feels so great to walk out onto the tennis court, the soccer field, basketball court wearing that royal Brevard blue, sporting that iconic ‘B.’ That’s something that I’ll always cherish. There truly is nothing like being a Blue Devil,” said Duval.

So what does it mean to be a Blue Devil?

Duval said Blue Devils are creative, honest, brave, smart, kind, responsible and persevere, that they are proud to attend Brevard High and have made an impact in the arts, sciences, band, theatre and athletics.

For both Duval and Whitt it means being part of a school in which students form close bonds with each other and their teachers, no matter if your family has lived here for generations or just a few years.

“You’re part of a family,” said Whitt. “Once you’re a Blue Devil, you’ll always be a Blue Devil.”


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