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Pippa Key Valedictorian for Chattooga High School’s Class of 2024 to attend Yale University

Pippa Key has been named valedictorian for Chattooga High School’s class of 2024.

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Graduation ceremonies will take place Friday, May 27th at the Little Big Horn Stadium.

But before her high school graduation, Key will be graduating on May 14th from Dalton State College with an Associate of Arts in general studies. She will graduate Summa Cum Laude, meaning of highest distinction.

Key plans to continue her education at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She received her acceptance letter last week. In total, of the 57,465 students who applied to join Yale’s class of 2028, 3.7 percent — or 2,146 students — were admitted, marking the lowest acceptance rate on record. The admitted class includes students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. territories and 62 countries.

Founded in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Yale is one of the eight Ivy League schools.

AllOnGeorgia conducted a Q and A with Key asking her 20 questions.

Q: What are your plans after high school?

A: I plan to attend college to major in theatre studies and an undecided secondary major. I want to continue my dance career either in school or in a studio, and I want to continue to perform on stage and better myself and my craft.

Q #2: Which extracurriculars, clubs, sports, have you been a part of?

A: I have been a part of FCCLA, serving as VP of Events and Programs as well as chapter Vice President, I played Varsity tennis all four years of high school, I competed internationally for Future Problem Solvers, and I have been an FCA officer. Outside of school, I dance contemporary, ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop at a local dance studio: The Dance Centre. I have also been a part of Beta Club, Honors Society, and National Society of High School Scholars and am involved in community service around the county such as with the Main Street Committee, CRC Chattooga, and the Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center. I am also a member of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Chattooga— Student Edition and am heavily involved with Chattooga Curtain call, acting with them for 11 years and directing the Kids productions for two. I am also a part of the worship team at Harvest Worship Center.

Q #3: How do you want to be remembered from high school?

A: I want to be remembered as kind and compassionate, as well as driven and optimistic. I don’t want people to think of me as a special case or a rarity, but rather as someone who had a goal and worked hard every day to accomplish it— something anyone is capable of doing.

Q #4: Favorite Class / Favorite teacher

A: This is a difficult question because I’ve had many encouraging, supportive teachers who have shaped the student I am today. I have enjoyed classes with Mrs. Karen Appelbaum, who taught me how to effectively write an essay at a collegiate level, Mr. Benjamin Windom, who kept me humble and made me realize how much I love history, and Mrs. Stephanie Ratliff, who never taught me anything academically, but taught me how to be a woman of God and an athlete who never gives up.

Q #5: Where did you attend elementary/middle school?

A: Menlo Elementary

Q #6: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I see myself in New York City, following the dreams of the little girl who found her passion in Annie in small town 11 years ago. I am so excited to see what the future holds, and I will be sure to keep a piece of my community in my heart.

Q #7: Getting accepted into Yale, is an amazing accomplishment, tell us about that, and the application process? What other schools have you applied to? Do you plan to attend Yale?

A: The application process was daunting. It’s hard not to compare yourself to what you see in the media and on T.V. about Ivy League students. I’ve wanted to attend Yale since I learned what Ivy Leagues were, but I wasn’t sure I would be accepted, especially because I wasn’t offered several high-priority classes to admission committees like APs and IBs. I did whatever I could in high school and made the best of the opportunities available to me, and that’s all that mattered. I was offered an interview with an admissions officer named Luke Sellers, who was extremely helpful and friendly and made me feel comfortable with the process. He helped me to understand that they look at applicants holistically, and only require that applicants show their hard work and determination to be the best student they can be, no matter their situation or class availability. I am forever grateful for Mr. Sellers for that interview. I also applied to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and LA my Junior year, and after an exciting audition process, I was accepted with a 48,000 dollar merit scholarship. I also applied to and auditioned for NYU Tisch School of the Arts, but was waitlisted the same day I was accepted to Yale. That just goes to show that admission committees are looking for different things at every school, and you can’t expect every school to be a yes, and that’s okay. I do plan to attend Yale in the Fall, and I am so excited and blessed to see this opportunity come to fruition.

Q #8: Which class was the most threatening to your valedictorian status or was most challenging?

A: I took a 4 week Biology lab course over the summer that was extremely challenging. Due to the pace, I had 3 quizzes, 200 slides of material, 3 virtual labs, and an exam every week. This was on top of 3 other 8 week courses I was taking at Dalton State, so to say it was a lot to handle is an understatement. However, I studied hard and took the class one assignment at a time, ending with a 96.

Q #9: What has been the highlight of high school?

A: Being a part of a community like Chattooga High School is unlike any other experience. I might not always feel super connected with my classmates all of the time, but whenever anyone accomplishes anything or anytime something tragic happens in the community, the Tribe bands together and celebrates the highs and lows together. One Tribe forever.

Q #10: Describe your high school experience in three words

A: Hectic, memorable, short

Q #11: Complete the sentence: “I will always remember…”

A: I will always remember my last Winter Formal at CHS. I loved spending time with my best friends and celebrating our last year together.

Q #12: List any scholarships you received:

A: I have currently only received $48,000 from AMDA and $310,000 from Yale.

Q #13: What will you miss most about CHS after you graduate?

A: I will miss my friends, as they have been a major support system through my high school and college journey thus far. I will also miss tennis and my wonderful Coach, Mrs. Ratliff.

Q #14: How hard did you work to be valedictorian, was it a goal, were you #1 all 4 years?

A: I worked diligently throughout my entire school experience, not just high school. I remember deciding in Kindergarten that I wanted to be top of my class. I started school early, at two years old in the three-year-old class at Montessori, and always had an affinity for learning. I have been top of my class for as long as I can remember, and it isn’t because of anything but pure drive and determination. I simply wanted to be the best I could possibly be— and my parents raised me competitive!

Q #15: What is your greatest achievement during high school?

A: Besides becoming Valedictorian, being accepted to Yale, and completing a college degree, I would say being accepted into the Disney Dreamers Academy. That was the most gratifying and incredible experience of my life, and I’m so glad I get to be called an alumni.

Tell us a little more about Disney Dreamers…

A: Every year, Disney hosts a leadership and career intensive for 100 teenagers across the United States. The conference is for students of underrepresented communities or races. The students are chosen from a pool of over 100,000 applicants. That equates to around a 0.001 percent acceptance rate. The application process consists of a series of short answer responses and then a couple longer essay questions about equality and inclusion in a community. The conference itself lasted 4 days. We were given free park tickets, food vouchers, and a room in the Coronado Springs resort. There were many celebrity guests, such as Halle Bailey, the cast of Proud Family, Marsais Martin, HER, and several more. Dreamers took classes based on what career they wanted to pursue, so I took classes about theatre. I was the opening act of a DDA showcase in front of celebrity guests and fellow Dreamers, where I played and sang “Iris” by the GooGoo dolls. When speaking to Ameenah Kaplan, actress, musician, choreographer, and one of the executives of Disney Dreamers Academy, she told me that she created the showcase with me in mind. I had to send in a video of myself showing any musical talents, so I sent a video of me playing and singing “Iris.” When Ms. Kaplan pitched the idea of the showcase to the board, she took my video with her. I also performed in an immersive experience Star Wars themed short play at the showcase. I learned so many networking, career, and leadership skills from the conference, and I will never forget the amazing time I had.

Tell us a little more about graduating college next month…

A: Graduating college before high school It feels amazing and incredibly rewarding to be graduating college before high school. It took so much painstaking work and many long hours to make this happen, but I am so proud of myself. I will graduate Summa Cum Laude, meaning of highest distinction. I spent countless hours working on papers, taking exams and quizzes, and communicating with professors while my friends were out having fun, which was hard on my mental health. I do feel like I sacrificed a lot of my “glory days” of high school stressing about school work, but the payoff of Yale is worth it. I also commuted to Dalton two days a week to take in person classes, which I feel has prepared me for my future college courses. Overall, it was a difficult process, but I am blessed to be able to have taken as many classes as I have, and I am so proud of where I am because of my hard work

Q #16: How have you changed since freshman year?

A: I care much less about what people think of me. I made many decisions my Freshman year based on what my “friends” thought of me and was always so afraid to truly be myself. I have found myself stepping out of my comfort zone, expressing myself in many different ways that I never would have dreamed I would have the courage to do. I learned that I am allowed to to love the unique person that I am and that I don’t have to fit into any standards others have set for me. I am excited to be stepping into the next chapter in my life, free of other’s expectations and being unapologetically me.

Q #17: Out of all your years in high school, which one was your favorite and why?

A: I would say my Junior or Senior year because that’s when I began to become more confident and make more positive friendship connections in my life. It is also when many of the opportunities I have been blessed with started to unfold. While they have been difficult in many aspects, these years hugely shaped my character.

Q #18: A senior quote

A: Never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do with your life. Follow your passions and your big “improbable” dreams no matter what others say or think and no matter your situation. The worlds your oyster, you just have to find the strength to crack open the shell.

Q #19: A word of advice for underclassmen

A: Hard work brings big things. If you want it, you can get it, you just have to want it bad enough. Never give up, but don’t drive yourself crazy in the process, after all, Vienna waits for you.

Q#20: What teacher had the most impact on your education?

A: Mrs Appelbaum taught me so much about the college process, studying skills, writing skills, and overall life skills. I truly believe she is preparing kids for college and the real world as long as they take her advice and class seriously. She was amazing, and I couldn’t imagine high school without her.

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