BRIGHT FUTURES — PAISD valedictorian Bey’Ounce Banks represents class leadership
Bey’Ounce Banks wrapped up her final year in high school with the highest honor possible — valedictorian.
The 18-year-old graduated with her fellow classmates Saturday at Memorial Stadium. In a pre-recorded message to the class of 2020, Banks expressed her pride and gratitude.
“Growing up in PAISD I gained a love for learning and learned the power of knowledge,” her voice rang out on the scoreboard. “Those are two things I will take with me for the rest of my life. I learned what it means to be a role model and a leader, and gained a sense of camaraderie.”
As a leader, Banks contributed to many organizations across campus, including National Honor Society, Delta Gems and Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Group.
“In National Honor Society, students exemplify the characteristics of leadership, service, character and scholarship,” she said. “Delta Gems is an organization that helps mold young females into leaders and teaches life lessons. I hope to gain insight on what it means to be a Delta.
“I learned that Delta is of high stature and comes with hard work and service. We had many speakers come and talk to us and from each and everyone one of them, I learned something I found extremely important.”
In each organization, Banks learned the value of hard work, giving back and setting an example.
“I want to be part of a legacy I believe in,” she said. “I enjoyed being able to meet pillars in my community and learn from them.”
On Saturday, Banks notched several accomplishments to her belt.
Besides graduating as valedictorian amongst 461 seniors, she received eight university scholarships.
She considers valedictorian to be her greatest accomplishment.
“It means to be a leader and inspiration for my class and underclassmen,” she said of the honor. “I could not be more overjoyed. It is a beautiful feeling to see everything you worked so hard for pay off. Being valedictorian sometimes does not even feel real. I am elated and honored to have represented the class of 2020 as their valedictorian.”
Banks also represented the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School, graduating first generation Magna Cum Laude from the institution.
She also made the Dean’s List at Lamar State College Port Arthur.
Woodrow Wilson Principal Dr. Gloria Dodson said it was an unbelievable moment to see the first class graduate.
“I cannot properly express how proud I am of them and what they went through to accomplish what they accomplished,” she said. “For me, I can’t feel more proud of what they achieved. It’s unbelievable and I don’t have enough words to express the way I feel about what they accomplished.”
Dodson said Banks was the perfect example of leadership.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” she said. “We always believed in her and her ability to perform and achieve. She was very dedicated and, most importantly, she was able to get a lot of classmates under her umbrella to receive their degree. She was the leader of the group. She encouraged them to do what they needed to do to. She was instrumental in getting other students to graduate with their college degree.”
Walking into the next phase of her life, Banks is preparing to attend McNeese State University in Lake Charles to study biology.
“From a young age I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field and help people,” she said. “My long-term goals are to graduate college with honors, to finish medical school, become an obstetrician gynecologist and to continue to grow into the best version of myself I can be.”
Banks’ said as she moves forward she will always remember her role models.
“When things get rough, I know I can always call on God and my parents,” she said. “I have watched them struggle, but always find a way to come out on top.”
In a final message to the younger Titan generation and her fellow classmates, Banks expressed the power of manifesting your destiny.
“As teenagers we tend to be pessimistic,” she said. “We always put ourselves down, but it’s time to start being positive, believing in yourself and believing in the things that you do. Speak positivity and greatness into yourself and it will always come back to you.
“I just want the class of 2020 to know I am proud of them for all their accomplishments. As we begin the next chapter of life, I wish you all the best.”