Induction Speech for Meredith Hemphill
May 16, 2019 HOF Ceremony, Joe Childers
The person I'm going to induct tonight was actually chosen last year, but was out of the country when we held this banquet last year. Meredith Hemphill could not be a better first inductee to the Letterman Hall of Fame in the area of Academics. I first met Meredith when she was a student at Hanes MS. When we created the HOF last year, this person is the very first person that came to mind. She qualified for this honor through a state championship in her category in the Quill writing competition, but in fact, won her category three times, and the second time, helped Atkins win the team state championship in the Quill. I cannot think of a better champion to represent Atkins, than Meredith.
Her Quill coach reminded me of a story that truly demonstrates the character of Meredith Hemphill, and even compared her to Mary Lou Retton, the gymnast who got the perfect score on her last vault in the Olympics, even though she was injured and had to be carried off the mat. On the day of one of the Quill regionals, Meredith didn't come to school, so the coach was obviously worried. As a team competition, the scores are added up and without one of the players, the team was destined to fail. After calling her mother, Coach Plaster found out that she had been rushed to the emergency room that morning. They had thought it was appendicitis, but found out that it was "ONLY" a gallstone. Even after this experience, Meredith came in to school for the competition, and helped her team qualify for the state competition.
This is just one story of Meredith's character, and her championship spirit. Anyone who knows her could probably think of more. Meredith was one of the fiercest academic competitors that Atkins has ever seen, competing in a broad variety of competitions. The short list includes not just the Quill, but Science Olympiad, Poet Laureate, Science Fair, the Twelve, Academic Team, and a whole array of other groups and organizations. She didn’t just participate, but did well at virtually every one of them. But on top of being so active, Meredith was an exemplary student at Atkins, and not just a great student, but the very top student, the valedictorian of her graduating class.
Meredith continued her accomplishments when she went on to major in Plant Biology and Genetics at NC State University, graduating as a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa honors last May. She also got a minor in Creative Writing, and found a creative writing club at State. Meredith actually published her first book while she was still a student at Atkins, and continued to write and publish while she was in college.
Everything about Meredith is an example of being a true champion, and It gives me great pleasure to induct her as the first ever champion into the Atkins Letterman Hall of Fame.