Clayton’s top seniors are friends, not rivals

ndunn@newsobserver.comJune 9, 2014 

Clayton High School valedictorian Logan Boykin, left, and salutatorian Kaelin Amaya have known each other since they were 4 years old.

NASH DUNN — ndunn@newsobserver.com

  • Graduation 2014

    Here’s the schedule of Friday’s high school commencement exercises in Johnston County.

    Clayton High School – 6:30 p.m.

    Cleveland High School – 6 pm.

    Corinth Holders High School – 6:30 p.m.

    North Johnston High School – 6 p.m.

    Princeton High School – 7 p.m.

    Smithfield-Selma High School – 6 p.m.

    South Campus Community High School – 10 a.m.

    South Johnston High School – 6 p.m.

    West Johnston High School – 6 p.m.

As Clayton High School’s top two seniors make smalltalk in the media center, it’s clear they were not book-throwing rivals in pursuit of the No. 1 ranking.

In fact, valedictorian Logan Boykin and salutatorian Kaelin Amaya are pretty good friends. You kind of have to be after sharing most of the same classes since you were kids.

Boykin and Amaya will lead a graduating class of more than 300 seniors on June 13 on the Clayton High football stadium.

The two Clayton residents say they have known each other since they were 4 years old. But they attended different elementary schools before enrolling at Riverwood Middle and eventually Clayton High.

Boykin was chief marshal at last year’s graduation, an honor that goes to the top student in the junior class. So after taking the same classes as other top students this year, she had a pretty good idea she’d be valedictorian.

“I always kind of knew,” she said.

Boykin’s older sister, Kelsey, was the Clayton High valedictorian three years ago. While she said being “Kelsey’s sister” got a little old every now and then, Boykin admitted that the relationship was a motivating factor.

“There was that sisterly jealousy, but then again, it’s something I’ve always thought about,” Boykin said.

It was a different for Amaya, who didn’t know she was in the running for top honors until the end of this year. She said her drive comes from within.

“I hold myself to a certain standard, and I want to meet my own goals and succeed based on what success means to me,” Amaya said.

Outside the classroom, Boykin played tennis for four years and swam for three. She’s also worked three jobs since her sophomore year, first as a grocery store cashier, then a produce stand assistant and most recently as helper in a local doctor’s office.

“It was whatever presented itself to me at the time,” Boykin said, adding that she also volunteered at UNC Hospitals.

Amaya was a four-year member of the Comets’ cross country, track and swim teams. She was a life guard for three years and is now a YMCA counselor and volunteer at Cooper Elementary School.

“I also do Civil War reenactments,” Amaya said, adding that the activity has become a family tradition at events in North Carolina and Virginia.

Boykin will attend UNC-Chapel Hill to study English and political science. She wants to be a criminal defense lawyer, she thinks.

“I teeter with a bunch of things, and then last year, I said I really want to be a lawyer,” Boykin said.

As for Amaya, she will study chemical engineering at N.C. State University.

“I want to work for a pharmaceutical company,” Amaya said.

At Clayton High’s senior awards program last week, Boykin received a $5,000 Neuse Ryder Cup Scholarship, which goes to Clayton High seniors who have demonstrated success in and out of the classroom. Amaya received the Clayton Alumni Association Scholarship, Cooper Elementary School Scholarship and the Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship through IBM.

In all, Clayton High’s graduating seniors received $3.3 million in grants and scholarships, said assistant principal Jeff Sullivan.

As it is for most seniors, graduation will be bittersweet for Boykin and Amaya,

“Some of these people, I’ve been with them since kindergarten,” Boykin said. “It will be weird not to see them every day.”

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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