Greenville High selects actresses valedictorian, salutatorian

Published 3:24 pm Monday, July 3, 2023

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Vivian Gates and Kole Hovis are superstars at Greenville High School, on the acting stage and in the classroom. The school selected the two friends, as valedictorian and salutatorian for the 2023 graduating class for their academic excellence and leadership achievements.

Gates, this year’s valedictorian, is the daughter of Dale and Cheryl Gates has attended Greenville schools since Kindergarten, beginning at W.O. Parmer Elementary and continuing through Greenville Elementary, Greenville Middle School, and Greenville High School.

“I started in kindergarten and I’ve never left,” Gates said. “I’ve been in the same school system ever since.”

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Gates graduates with a 4.2 grade point average (GPA) and has been part of the marching band and served as the drum major for about eight years. She said she loves band and acting in the school’s theater program, most recently in a student-led production of “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

The valedictorian served as president of the Student Government Association, is Butler County’s current Distinguished Young Woman, and ranked in the top eight finalists for Alabama’s Distinguished Young Woman. In addition, Gates was a Girl’s State representative, a Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) delegate, and a Greenville Chamber of Commerce Camelia Girl.

Gates achieved membership in the school’s National Honor Society and Beta Club chapters and also broadcast the morning announcements for the GHS Tiger TV broadcast team.

In the fall, Gates will attend Auburn University to study political science and pre-law. Afterwards, she plans to attend law school at Georgetown University to pursue a career as an attorney or a politician.

“I wanted to do music education for years growing up, and then I fell in love with the legislature and the courtroom,” Gates said. “I’ve always been someone who’s interested in human rights activism and I’ve been passionate about making positive change. I felt law was perfect for me because lawyers end up in politics, representing school boards, counties, districts, states, and their countries. I’m super interested in being part of that process.”

Education reform is another passion Gates hopes to pursue. 

“That’s something that I hope to move forward with in college,” Gates said. “We go to a Title I school and we have a lot of flaws here. I’d like to see more money flowing in so we can have better paid teachers and higher quality of education in our state and country.”

Hovis, the daughter of Amanda Moore and Chris Garner, graduates as salutatorian with a 4.0 GPA. She has been active in Beta Club, the Spanish Honor Society, the Student Government Association, and theater during her high school career.

She attended the Walter Trumbauer High School Theatre Festival for the past two years. She has directed and produced student-led plays, most recently coordinating the effort around the school’s production of “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Hovis said she first realized her love for theater while working on an arts showcase.

“I did a piece of a show with one of my friends,” she said. “I think after that night, after the experience of being on stage and being able to put on such a performance, it made me realize that I had a bit more dedication to theater than I thought I did before.”

In the absence of a theater teacher, Hovis said she found a sponsor and created a troupe for this year’s performance. 

“I started a bake sale and raised money for the program,” Hovis said. “Then I got a bunch of people together and we started working on a show. It’s been difficult, but it [came] together. It was a student-led play, produced by high-schoolers.”

Hovis has completed dual enrollment classes at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and will attend Troy University in the fall to major in theater.

Gates and Hovis both agreed they learned a great deal from Greenville High School. Most importantly, both recalled their time at the school as a learning experience focused on people and how to overcome negativity with a positive attitude.

“I think Greenville High School has shaped me a bit as a person and has helped me understand other people a bit more,” Gates reflected.

Adding to Gate’s comment, Hovis said, “The biggest thing I’ve learned here is how to persevere and  how to overcome all of the negative things that happen. We levied through a pandemic and had to deal with that in our high school career. There’s always going to be people who are bringing you down, but we let it make us work harder. We made it set our eyes on success instead of getting discouraged.”