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FCHS GRADUATION: The memories we made

Long time friends Sianne Alexis, Chloe Sims ranked at top of class

The Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | June 1, 2017

“I remember in fifth grade, I would pray that Chloe [Sims] and I would be friends forever,” said Sianne Alexis, Fort Campbell High School senior. “I found out about valedictorian and salutatorian when we were little and I just wanted us to get to high school and be No. 1 and 2 – top of the class. Somehow that has happened. It’s incredible.”

As the school year draws to a close, seniors in the 2017 FCHS graduating class are cleaning out their lockers, taking final exams and saying goodbye to friends. Best friends Chloe Sims and Sianne, are celebrating their academic success.

Sianne was named valedictorian with a 4.21 GPA Chloe trailed closely behind with a 4.15 GPA, making her salutatorian. Friday, 107 FCHS seniors will participate in the graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. at Austin Peay State University Dunn Center.

Around the corner

Both students have been at Fort Campbell for at least a decade, an anomaly for many military children. Sianne said the two became friends in elementary school and have been close ever since.

“We have lived in the same neighborhood, just around the corner from each other,” she said. “We were in the same classes in elementary school, some of middle school and have been friends throughout high school. We’ve just really grown up together.”

Despite their friendship, Chloe said the two have competed against each other for their class rankings, especially since the beginning of their senior year.  “We’ve really held each other accountable through all of this,” Sianne said. “It’s friendly competition. We really help each other out too. We both want to be the best, but we also want the other to succeed and do really well too.”

Studying strong

Sianne, a creative student who enjoys theater and being on stage, has been a part of every production FCHS has hosted in the past four years, and has worked backstage operating the lights.

Her drama teacher, Nelson Torres, said working with her to put on a production was a great experience.

“It’s really great to have her in class,” he said. “She goes the extra mile, especially when we have the shows. She gets here earlier than everybody and leaves later than anyone else. She is so dependable. She doesn’t miss rehearsal.”

On stage, Torres said Sianne is an emotional actress who pours her heart out for the audience. In the classroom, he said she is a strong leader who inspires others to help make the shows the best they can be.

“I hope the best for her because she is a smart student and a good person,” he said. “I hope all her dreams and aspirations are fulfilled.”

Sianne is a member of the Spanish Club, Student to Student, National Honors Society, Art Club and Future Educators of America. This year she also served on the Student Council Executive Board as the treasurer.

“Participating in student council this year was very challenging,” she said. “I decided that I really wanted to be dedicated to it. I really wanted to do a lot and be involved in everything, so I feel like I put my hands in a lot of things, and that put a strain on myself.”

Chloe, a strong academic student, has served as president of the FCHS branch of the National Honor Society, vice president of the senior class and president of Student to Student. She is also a member of the Model United Nations Course, Youth Leadership Clarksville, Spanish Club and Future Educators of America.

She said the biggest obstacle she overcame during her senior year was applying for the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

“I had to make so many sacrifices for that application,” she said. “I had to get fit. So I had to be physically strong, remain academically strong and maintain a strong leadership position. That seven months up to the deadline was intense for me, but I don’t regret any minute of it. I grew a lot as a person, but it was difficult.”

Both seniors agree that college applications are the most difficult and daunting experience seniors go through. Chloe said she struggled to control her time management skills because the applications are so laborious.

“I had a hard time balancing school with Family and friends,” she said. “Applications are so time consuming. It was really difficult to maintain my grades, class rankings and college applications. Plus all of it goes together, so to be successful your senior year you really have to be on top of every aspect of your life.”

Michelle McCullough, FCHS computer science teacher and Student to Student sponsor, said working with Chloe during and after class has been rewarding. McCullough said she agreed to be the Student to Student adviser because Chloe was a part of the program.

“She has great manners,” McCullough said. “She’s so pleasant and has a smile for everyone. She is on the list for Student to Student and she gets picked often because she is so good at making new students feel welcome.”

In the classroom, Chloe shows strong focus and a desire to learn, McCullough said.

“She’s just amazing,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s a very conscientious student. She wants to do well. She will ask questions. She’s excited about the material.”

McCullough said Chloe tries her best on her assignments and comes up with great results.

“I can imagine nothing less than great things for Chloe,” she said. “Whatever she puts her mind to, she’s going to do. I cannot see her failing.”

Next on their plate

The two best friends have big plans for their lives after high school. Sienna was accepted to Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she will pursue a major in psychology. She said she wants to earn a doctorate one day and open her own practice.

Her mother, Sharon Alexis, and father, retired Staff Sgt. George Alexis, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div., and her grandparents are all proud of her accomplishments.

Her mom said grades have always been important in their Family. Sianne has two relatives who have also graduated as valedictorian.

“We are so excited about her being named valedictorian,” Sharon Alexis said. “We are so very proud of her. We hope that she is very successful in life.”

Although she was not selected by the United States Military Academy, Chloe decided to stay close to home for a year after graduation. She will be attending Austin Peay State University, but will be reapplying to the United States Military Academy this summer.

“I’m also going to apply for the National ROTC Scholarship,” she said. “I’m also going to be working on my transfer applications for other schools. The plan is West Point, but if that doesn’t pan out then I’ve got a backup plan to transfer somewhere else like New York or something.”

Chloe decided to apply to West Point last fall although she has never previously shown any interest in joining the Army. She said she was inspired to apply after speaking to recruiters who were set up at the high school.

“I had this motivation inside of me to join the Army that I’ve never had. That was my spark and from there I’ve found that being an officer in the Army really appeals to me. I want to join the Army a lot now, which is not something I would have ever seen myself doing,” she said.

Her father, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Sims, 5th Special Forces Group, said it wasn’t something he expected from his daughter either. He said he is honored she would consider an Army career.

“As she’s grown up I’ve always said she was going to cure cancer, come up with an invention or become the first female president of the United States of America,” Sims said. “At first when she said West Point I was thinking ‘There’s so much more you can do.’ But I’m supportive of her either way, no matter what she does. If she’s happy, I’m happy.”

Sims said he is honored and grateful to have a child like Chloe who strives to perform so well academically.

“I didn’t do anywhere near as well as she is when I was growing up,” he said. “For me to be blessed with a kid that is doing this, I really don’t have a word for it, but I’m just so honored and thankful for her.”

Parting words

With just a few moments left of their high school career, the two seniors offered some advice. To the freshmen, remember every year is important. Sianne said to remember big goals start with small actions.

“Every A was important to me,” she said. “Freshmen year really does count. Every grade counts. Everything you do counts – even disciplinarian actions.”

To the incoming senior class, Chloe said to use the summer break wisely.

“Really make use of the summer before your senior year to start applying to colleges,” she said. “You can start applying around July. You aren’t going to have a lot of time to do that during the actual school year if you also want to be able to spend time with your friends and Family.”

Most importantly, the two said, spend quality time with your friends and Family.

“I’ve gotten used to saying goodbye to friends, because I’m [a military child],” Sianne said. “But it hasn’t hit me yet that I’m probably not going to see most of these people again. I know when it does I’m going to be sad about it, but I have the chance to make all new friends in a whole new place just full of opportunities. So I’m just going to look hopeful toward that.”

“We’ve spent the past four years at this same place and to say goodbye after Friday is going to be like missing a sentimental piece in your life,” Chloe said. “Everyone in this class has done so much growing while at this school, learning about who we are and how we interact with people. That new chapter is right in front of us, and I know so many of us are just ready to move on to the next thing, but it will be a little difficult to say goodbye to high school and the memories we’ve made.”

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