KFHS student makes impression

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

As part of an assignment to write a feature on each of Suffolk’s valedictorians, I had the pleasure of speaking with King’s Fork High School’s top student, Lark Washington, last week.

I spent a little more than two hours with Lark last Friday, and after only a short time with her, I was astounded at what a person she is.

It sounds bad, but even though these students reached the top of their classes, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy getting to know these teenagers.

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But Lark instantly changed my mind and outlook about the stories.

She met with me at the News-Herald office on Friday, and from the minute I met her, she made an immediate impression with a beaming smile and great manners.

During our interview, Lark answered all of my questions with a level of articulation that you don’t expect to come from an 18-year-old.

She knew what she wanted to say, and she knew just how she wanted it to sound.

But it was her honesty and confidence that really impressed me.

When I asked her what was the hardest part of her senior year, Lark completely opened up to me — someone she had only known for about 30 minutes — about her parents’ divorce, which had so heavily occupied her thoughts during the school year that it threatened her commitment to school and other activities.

Lark’s father left her family after her junior year, and with him, he nearly took her inspiration to succeed. She said her father has always been her main supporter.

What was more amazing was that Lark had hidden this fact, as well as other problems at home, from her friends and classmates the entire year.

It wasn’t until her valedictorian speech on graduation day that Lark ever mentioned her relationship with her father had been strained.

She said she received a lot of feedback from her classmates and teachers, who said they were shocked to hear that she had been dealing with the divorce, because Lark always seemed so happy.

But that’s how Lark deals with the turmoil — she shakes it off and smiles.

She said she keeps a positive attitude, even when things are at their worst, because she won’t let bad times hold her back.

Meeting Lark and being able to learn just a little bit about her was a pleasure for me. She is extremely confident and self-assured, even if she said she thinks she needs to build confidence when she goes to University of Virginia in the fall.

I think my first impression of my first valedictorian can be summed up by something King’s Fork High’s assistant principal DeBerry Goodwin said: “If I had 10 of her, I could rule the world.”

If I thought I wouldn’t gain anything from the valedictorian series, Lark Washington did a great job of proving me wrong. And I’m certain now the other valedictorians will prove to be remarkable young adults with good stories to tell.

For the rest of the series on the city’s valedictorians, watch the Suffolk News-Herald on Sundays throughout the summer.