The 2019-2020 school year got off to a rousing start at William Byrd High School on August 12 with an assembly announcing this year’s Top Terrier— senior Emily Nicely.
This is a proud tradition at WBHS originating when Tammy Newcomb became principal in 2016. Being named Top Terrier is the highest single honor bestowed on a student at William Byrd. The Top Terrier represents the qualities of a Terrier— a champion.
The Top Terrier is nominated by students, elected by faculty, and recognized as the senior who best exemplifies the qualities of integrity, loyalty, and courage of character— the one who serves as a model for everyone— the best of the best.
The Top Terrier is nominated for the honor at the end of their junior year by their fellow students. They submit a resume which is shared with the faculty, who then chooses the Top Terrier. The identity of the new Top Terrier remains a secret until the name is revealed at an assembly on the morning of the opening day of school each year.
Nicely is the fourth student to receive the Top Terrier honor, following Stephen Olsen, Abby Spotswood, and Megan James.
Her impressive resume quickly makes it apparent why she was selected for the honor.
Nicely spent four weeks this summer at the 2019 Summer Residential School for Medicine and Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University engaging in health science study. She was one of 26 Virginia students selected for the program. Her future plans are to pursue a career in the medical field as a nurse practitioner.
She is on the “A Honor Roll” at William Byrd with a GPA of 4.3, earned while enrolled in Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment classes throughout her high school career. Her GPA enabled her to serve as a Junior Marshal at the Class of 2019 graduation in May.
Nicely has completed job shadowing and work experience through the Carilion Clinic for Orthopedics and Neurosciences program and at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She has worked at Chick-fil-A as well.
She is a member of the Team Terrier Mentorship Program working with fourth graders at W.E. Cundiff Elementary twice monthly to build positive relationships and teach life/communication skills.
Nicely is a member of the Vinton Baptist Youth Choir and participated in youth choir summer mission trips to New York in 2014 to visit and perform for residents of nursing and veterans homes; to Canada in 2015, visiting nursing and veterans homes en route; to Detroit in 2016 teaching Vacation Bible School classes and other outreach events; to Detroit again in 2017 assisting in repairs to an abandoned home to be repurposed as a community center; and to Nassau, Bahamas, in 2018, collecting and distributing care items to orphanages and adult homes.
She has volunteered with the Children’s Chapel at the Rescue Mission serving snacks and teaching Bible lessons and prepared and served meals at the Rescue Mission through her church. She has worked on church maintenance projects and served as a lead teacher in Vacation Bible School at Vinton Baptist. She is a member of the Youth Leadership Team there, helping to coordinate and plan youth functions.
Nicely is a Student Council Association officer this year. She has assisted with Veteran’s Day events, freshman orientation, and homecoming; volunteered with the Roanoke Greek Festival, collected donations for the American Heart Association, and boosted school spirit by distributing candy canes to students. She was an officer for the Junior Class Council.
She is an officer in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and has helped collect for the Toys for Tots campaign.
She is also a Leo Club officer, delivering Halloween treat bags to children at the Rescue Mission, assisting with the Beta Club induction ceremonies, and putting together treat bags for the William Byrd faculty.
She is an International Club officer, and in that capacity helped organize and promote a fundraiser for the Turning Point Women’s Shelter.
She is a member of the varsity girls soccer team and plays travel soccer with Valley AFC Xpress.
“I really want to thank all of my classmates for considering me for this opportunity as well as Mrs. Newcomb and the rest of the William Byrd staff for giving me the honor of being Top Terrier,” said Nicely.
“Honestly, I think simply having the title of being a Terrier is a privilege in itself, and I encourage everyone at William Byrd Middle and High School to recognize and appreciate how fortunate we are to have such a supportive school district, amazing principals and faculty, and a community that is invested in its youth,” Nicely said. “These are the characteristics of the William Byrd and Vinton community that make it truly one of a kind.
“Lastly, one piece of advice I would like to give to my fellow students is to make William Byrd High School a place that they want to be,” she added. “Whether this means starting a club for something they are passionate about or simply promoting a positive attitude, these things will all contribute to making our school and community an even better place than it is already.”
Emily Nicely’s proud parents are Ken and Teresa Nicely of Bonsack.
In addition to the announcement of the new Top Terrier for 2019, the opening day assembly/pep rally included an enthusiastic welcome to seniors in the Class of 2020 by the cheerleaders, staff, and student body.
The students were treated to a video produced by student Evan Garst starring the Terrier Mascot stirring up some school spirit. Dog Pound leaders John Catron and Lexi Dean led the students in cheers of the traditional “Let’s Go Byrd” for the new school year and the upcoming football season, with the first home game on August 30.
Principal Tammy Newcomb concluded the assembly by challenging students to simply “do your best this year.”