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Criswell named LaGrange High School’s class of 2020 valedictorian

By Grace Braswell
Daily News

High school senior Libby Criswell received the surprise of her life when administration showed up at her doorstep holding bright, granger-blue balloons on Tuesday, April 14 with news that Criswell was LaGrange High School’s class of 2020 valedictorian.

Criswell, a senior at LaGrange High School, has always been exceedingly involved in her community. By the age of 6, Criswell was already picking up cello and playing in the LaGrange Youth Symphony Orchestra. She grew up playing music, singing in church and studying her way to the top.

Throughout her high school career, Criswell involved herself in several clubs and activities. Some of her favorites include chorus where she was a soloist, LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra where she was a cellist, and LaGrange Youth Council where she was the vice chair.

“Spring concert and chorus was my absolute favorite extracurricular,” Criswell said. “I was a little let down that we couldn’t have one this year because of the pandemic, but the three we had were so great that it makes up for the one we lost.”

Music has always played a huge part in Criswell’s life. She has played cello for eleven years and counting — playing music all throughout her community. Criswell even began to teach lessons to younger students.

“The past two years I have been able to teach lessons,” Criswell said. “The music had kind of gone full circle.”

In LaGrange Youth Council, Criswell busied herself learning about local government and how her city worked. She was also heavily involved in church actives at First Baptist Church on the Square, where she worked on the worship team.

When it came to school, Criswell was always on top of everything. Criswell took every opportunity and ran with it, hoping to be at the top of her class. Criswell was not necessarily aiming for valedictorian, but she was thrilled that she received the honor.

“This just kind of happened, but I am beyond thrilled to be valedictorian,” said Criswell. “This was a huge surprise for me. I really didn’t expect to be the very top of the class.”

Several community leaders and teachers inspired Criswell every day to be her very best. Teachers such as Misty Jo Ward and Jana Arp, English teachers at LaGrange High, motivated Criswell in the subject she loved most. Criswell was pushed by these teachers to write and read outside of the classroom, even landing her a scholarship for a speech competition. Apart from school, Criswell was inspired by her music teachers and LaGrange leaders who were able to give her opportunities to succeed.

“My voice teacher Marty Davis, Katie Mercer Van Schoor and so many others have been able to help me be where I am today. Celeste Myall, my youth orchestra director, has been a huge part of my musical journey, as well. She has always been a great source of encouragement,” Criswell said. “I am so thankful for the encouragement of my family, my mom, dad, and little sister, for always making me feel so loved and inspired.”

Criswell plans further her education after high school and attend Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She is hoping to continue her passion for writing and music by double majoring in English and cello performance. Criswell said that she wants to continue to sing, play music and write.