Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Named

April 13, 2021 / Upper School/All News

Jackson Academy is pleased to announce that Priyadarshini “Priya” Ray, daughter of Anandhi and Paresh Ray of Brandon, is the Class of 2021 valedictorian. AndrewDrew” Antici, son of Angie and Brad Antici of Madison, is the Class of 2021 salutatorian. 

“I am so thankful to have been able to call JA my second home for the past 13 years since kindergarten!” Priya said. “JA has so positively shaped my character, and I will forever be so grateful for that.” Priya has filled the last 13 years with activity and accomplishments. In high school, she earned induction to the Cum Laude, National Honor, Mu Alpha Theta, Science, Rho Kappa, National English, and Latin honor societies. She is a STAR student, National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, and a Jackson Academy Peter Jernberg Scholar. Her successes include placing in many competitions in math and science, piano, and poetry. She has served on JA’s student council and honor councils and is currently the JA National Honor Society president. Priya also serves on the President’s Leadership Circle at the Mississippi Children’s Museum, where she completed a portion of her more than 400 hours of volunteer work. Other organizations that she volunteered with include UMMC, the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, the Barbara Bush Foundation, and various JA clubs. Even while accomplishing so much, Priya has enjoyed making memories with her classmates at JA. “Some of my favorite memories at JA include the eighth grade Washington DC Trip in 2016, storming Prep’s field after we beat Prep, the sixth grade Heifer International trip, Dr. Doolittle Day in second grade, and Mrs. Hastings’ class winning field day in sixth grade!”

Priya will complete high school with flying colors and a willingness to learn that will always serve her well. “I used to be an absolutely horrible writer, but Mrs. McKay’s tenth grade honors English class transformed my writing,” Priya said. “At first, I struggled with trying to follow her recommendations, like to refrain from using linking verbs and passive voice, but after a while, I got the hang of it, and my writing has definitely improved—my elementary teachers would be proud.” 

“It means so much to be, in a way, a representative for this class of 2021 and the people I’ve been with my entire life—it’s only because of their friendship and help that I was able to become valedictorian!” Priya said. “I’ve had a friendship with most people in my grade, and being valedictorian is a chance for me to be able to celebrate those friendships and relationships with everyone, as well as the amazing teachers I have had since preschool at Jackson Academy who have taught me just about everything I know, and the help and sacrifice from my family.  The students in the class of 2021 always look out for each other and make sure to help others excel—both academically and outside the classroom—and our class is a hardworking and eager group of people that I am so honored to have been able to call my friends for the past 13 years! Most importantly, our class loves working together, whether it’s sharing notes, teaching difficult concepts, or just sharing advice. I can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish in the future!”

Andrew “Drew” Antici began his studies at JA as a preschooler in K4, and has created a wealth of good memories from his time here. “Field days in elementary school, eating lunch with my friends for the past six years, and dances are definitely up there,” he said, listing off some of his favorite experiences at JA, “but I think my two favorites are playing in football games on Friday nights and winning the championship this year in soccer.” Among his many accomplishments and well-earned accolades, Drew earned induction to Cum Laude, the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, the national science honor society, Rho Kappa, and the National English honor society. Drew is Jackson Academy’s 2020-21 Blitz 16/Bank Plus Scholar-Athlete, recognizing his record of excellence in academics and athletics. Drew played varsity football for three years of high school and varsity soccer for four. During the 2020-2021 school year, Drew earned placements on both the football All-Conference First Team and the soccer All-Conference First Team. This year, he also co-captained the soccer team and earned MAIS All-Star. Off the field, Drew has also taken on leadership roles throughout campus. He serves with the JA Honor Council, is a JA Student Ambassador, an FCA leader, and helped lead the 2019 JA Student Retreat. In eleventh grade, he was awarded the George Eastman Young Leaders Award and the Glenn Cain Scholarship, which recognize academic excellence and emphasize community involvement and leadership.

“The JA community really is a wonderful group of people, and it’s pretty easy to get help from anyone on staff or even fellow students,” Drew said. “I think the most prominent moment a teacher really helped and supported me was with Mrs. McKay my sophomore year. At that time in the year, I was doing football and Rush soccer practice right after, so I had some pretty late nights. Mrs. McKay knew about all of the stuff I had going on because I had talked to her about it before, and she told me to let her know if I ever felt overwhelmed. I didn’t think I would ever need the help, but I remember two or three times that year I told her I was overwhelmed with the work, and she extended assignments for me and really helped me handle the load.”

For Drew, to be the salutatorian for the Class of 2021 is “a huge honor, and it’s a culmination of hard work, so it’s really special to me.” When he heads to Mississippi State University next fall, he’ll be accompanied by many friends and the wisdom and discipline he honed throughout high school. “The lessons I’ve learned about work ethic and faith in God’s plan are priceless.”