Seeing the connections

Published 11:24 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

Benjamin Littlejohn is the 2014 valedictorian of Nansemond River High School.

Benjamin Littlejohn is the 2014 valedictorian of Nansemond River High School.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of stories on the 2014 valedictorians from each of Suffolk’s five high schools. Look for the others in upcoming editions.

Being good at either science and math or English and history is how it normally goes, but Nansemond River High School’s 2014 valedictorian likes one of each.

“I would have to say history, and then math,” Benjamin Littlejohn said when asked to state his favorite subjects.


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“I guess I can see connections between the two of them. I guess that’s why I excel at both.”

The contest for Nansemond River’s highest-achieving student was a close one, according to Littlejohn. But he said he wasn’t surprised when he won it.

“I smiled a little bit,” he said of his reaction to the news. “I mean, I was happy about it. Then I started thinking about what I’m going to say at commencement.”

Back to Littlejohn’s favorite subjects: History, he said, “makes sense, because it has already happened. There’s a reason why everything happened.”

“Same with math,” he said. “You go through the steps … reason through the problem.”

Littlejohn will attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the fall. He applied to eight or nine colleges, he said, looking for one that is strong in engineering, as well as the liberal arts.

He has served as the marching band’s drum major and said he wants to explore the humanities alongside engineering, going “where my passion leads me.”

Littlejohn plans to major in either biomedical or mechanical engineering, and will study under an Army ROTC program, he said.

Post-college, he said, he wants to serve in an engineering capacity with the Army, then pursue a graduate degree and attain an academic research and development engineering position.

And from there, Littlejohn said, he’d like to go into medical or energy efficiency research.

“I’d like to find ways of making current sources of energy more efficient,” he explained. “I can see myself working for government or a university, doing research for them.”

But before any of that, Littlejohn looks forward to visiting England next month with the Suffolk Sister Cities International Musical Exchange program.

He’ll travel to Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk County, stay with a host family and perform in a joint concert at the end of the 10 days.

Littlejohn, who has also participated in Beta Club and the National Honor Society, said he has enjoyed his four years at Nansemond River, and has “Warrior pride.”

“I attribute that to the marching band,” he said.

The valedictorian’s parents are Stuart and Leslie Littlejohn.