Miller to study theater

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the third in the Suffolk News-Herald’s annual series of stories on the valedictorians at Suffolk’s five high schools.

Savannah Miller has been spending time at Nansemond River High School since before she could read. She likely didn’t dream back then that she would one day be graduating from the school as its valedictorian.

Miller’s mother, Joleen Neighbours, has taught at the school since Miller was very young. Until Miller entered middle school, she would spend her time at Nansemond River in the mornings and afternoons.

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“I would walk the halls with all the teenagers, with my little roll-y backpack,” Miller said. Some of the teenagers would look out for her and make sure she made it to her mom’s classroom, she recalled.

Miller was excited to learn she would be valedictorian of her class. Although she didn’t start out trying to be valedictorian, she realized sometime in her sophomore year that it was a possibility.

“I went into high school just trying to be as good as I could be,” she said. When she realized she could do it, “That’s when I really started buckling down and trying for it,” she said.

Miller loves history, especially 20th-century American history and the American presidents. She played volleyball and soccer and was on the academic team, National Honor Society president and a member of the Beta Club while at Nansemond River.

But her real passion has been the theater, following in the footsteps of her mom.

“I was taught to follow your passions, even if they may not be the most traditional or lucrative careers,” Miller said.

She has accumulated numerous theatrical honors throughout her career, including State Best Actor at this year’s Virginia Theatre Association High School Theatre Festival. She also earned honors for “Anna,” an original play she wrote and acted in.

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to see something on a page come to life, especially if it’s something you wrote,” she said. She thanked her peers for helping her edit “Anna” and bring it to life.

She said the key to doing so many things in high school, especially sports and theater, plus accumulating a 4.56 grade point average, was keeping an open line of communication with all of her teachers and coaches.

Miller plans to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and major in theater. She hopes to be able to teach theater if and when she can’t act.

“I’m excited for a change of scenery,” she said. “But I don’t know if I’m entirely ready for the cold.”