Personality: Samantha Ayres

Spotlight on Richmond Public Schools’ highest achieving student

6/2/2017, 10:47 p.m.
When Samantha Lynn Ayres began her sophomore year at Richmond Community High School, she found out that she was third …

When Samantha Lynn Ayres began her sophomore year at Richmond Community High School, she found out that she was third academically in her class of 53 students. Knowing she was so close to being at the top of her class, her competitive spirit kicked in. That’s when she says she decided to put in some extra effort.

“I thought to myself that maybe I could be No. 1, so why not try?” she says.

Now Samantha is graduating as valedictorian of her class at Richmond Community High School. With a 4.91 GPA, she also is the top student among the 1,119 graduates this year in Richmond Public Schools.

Her high academic achievement, SAT scores and extracurricular activities have won her scholarship offers from several colleges and universities, including a full, four-year scholarship she has accepted from the University of Richmond.

Samantha admits that earning the top spot has not come easily with her rigorous course load of Advanced Placement classes that she began as a sophomore. The 18-year-old says her coursework regularly required one or two hours for homework most nights, with some nights requiring up to five hours of study.

But buckling down with the books has been worth it.

“I am very proud of myself and delighted to know that my hard work has paid off,” Samantha says about her honor as RPS’ top student for 2017.

“My family is extremely excited and proud of my accomplishments,” she says of her mom, Carrie Ayres, a hairstylist, and her dad, Michael Ayres, a food purchasing manager.

At the University of Richmond, she plans to major in biology. “I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor,” Samantha says. “I want to become a pediatrician.”

One consistent activity that has given Samantha a break from her schoolwork has been sports. She started playing softball in her backyard with her dad at an early age. Because Richmond Community High did not have a team, she played for Huguenot High School’s softball team during her four years in high school. This year, she is captain of the team.

“I’ve been playing my whole life, starting on a team in the third grade,” she says. “I found out I was pretty good at it, and it was a way to have fun apart from my schoolwork.”

But one sport was not enough for this high achiever. Samantha also has played volleyball for the past two years as well, and also is captain of that team.

As if her schedule was not busy enough, Samantha has volunteered 150 hours with the Richmond SPCA, participated in other school clubs and organizations and just started working part time at a local drugstore to earn a little extra cash. Along the way, support from friends and family has been essential, she says. And feeding her competitive spirit has helped push her to her highest performance yet.

“We’re all supportive of each other,” she says of her classmates. “And friendly competition is something we’ve used to push one another.”

She will give the valedictory address at Richmond Community High’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, June 13, where Mayor Levar M. Stoney will be the main speaker.

Looking ahead, Samantha says she will spend the summer working and enjoying time with family and friends before diving into her next chapter as a first-year Richmond Spider, when she knows she will be hitting the books hard again. But she says she wants to find time to enjoy her college experience as well.

“I’m a little more serious than some my age, but I still know how to have fun,” she says.

Meet this week’s Personality and the top Richmond Public Schools student, Samantha Ayres:

Name of high school attending: Richmond Community High School.

Latest honor: Earning the super distinction of being No. 1 among all 2017 honor graduates in the entire Richmond Public Schools.

GPA: 4.91.

SAT score: 1,370.

Extracurricular activities: Varsity softball and volleyball; Future Business Leaders of America; Key Club; National Honor Society; Honor Council; and Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society.

Leadership roles in school activities: Captain of high school softball and volleyball teams.

Date and place of birth: April 7 in Richmond.

Current residence: Richmond.

Main point I will make in valedictory address at commencement: I haven’t finalized my graduation remarks yet, but I intend to speak about how much I really loved my high school experience and express thanks to my friends, teachers and my school.

Universities that made scholarship offers, with amounts: University of Virginia, $70,604; Virginia Commonwealth University, $28,000; Virginia Tech, $14,800; Penn State University, $16,000; University of Mary Washington, $49,000; and University of Richmond, $250,920, a four-year award.

Reason for choosing the University of Richmond: Richmond offered the largest amount of scholarships and I enjoyed the campus and the feel of the school.

How attitude factors in achievement: Over the years, I’ve learned that you must be invested in what you’re doing to be successful at it.

What motivates me to study: Knowing that my hard work will pay off.

What really makes me smart: My success in school can be attributed to my willingness to work hard and sacrifice some social time.

A good teacher is: Someone who makes their classes enjoyable while still teaching what the students need to learn.

Teacher who influenced me the most: Heather Crone, 12 Honors English and AP Literature teacher.

The secret to earning A’s: Taking classes seriously and being willing to put in the work.

Most unforgettable experience from high school: Without a doubt, the weeklong mini-mester trips. The camping trip was an amazing experience.

Excitement level about going to college: I’m slightly nervous, but extremely excited about leaving home for college.

Career goal: To complete college and become a pediatrician.

Perfect day: For me, the perfect day involves sleeping in, and on a nice day, spending time outside.

How I relax: Sleeping and hanging out with and talking to my friends.

Best late-night snack: A smoothie.

Three words that best describe me: Committed, excited and competitive.

Nobody knows that I: Earned a third-degree black belt in karate when I was 11.

The person who influenced me the most: My mother has been the greatest influence on my life.

What I would like to change in the world: Make everyone open-minded to all ideas and people.

What I would like to change in my community: I would like to see Richmond realize the potential it has to be a dynamic place to live and work.

My outlook for the future: I’m hoping and expecting to have a great time in college by learning new things, traveling to new places and meeting new people.

Kindergarten taught me: To enjoy school and make friends.

My next goal: After graduation on June 13, I look forward to attending and doing well in college and attending medical school upon graduation from the University of Richmond.