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Phillips' perseverance leads to salutatorian status at Morristown

Victoria Phillips had to wait until every single grade was tabulated to confirm that she was Morristown High School’s salutatorian for the Class of 2018.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

MORRISTOWN — Victoria Phillips sat down to take her final high school test knowing the status of salutatorian of the Class of 2018 at Morristown High School was at stake – literally.

Phillips expected that Biology test to be very difficult. Her ranking of No. 2 in her class was perilous at best.

“I knew it was the test that might make you not salutatorian,” she said. 

Two days after school was over, Phillips still didn’t know if she secured the coveted ranking behind Cara Armentrout, who was named valedictorian.

Then word came. Phillips had a graduation speech to prepare.

“It’s a really high up there position that I cannot believe I got,” said Phillips, who finished runner-up to Armentrout in Morristown’s academic rankings. “I never thought I would ever be (salutatorian) because I was always in the background just doing my work. I never thought I would be up there – no else thought that too.”

When Phillips first received her class ranking approximately two years ago it motivated her to a new level. 

“I was really excited about that (and having a grade point average above 4.0) and hoped I would keep it so I did whatever I could to maintain that position,” she said.

Not too bad for someone who admits to struggling somewhat through elementary school.

“When I came to junior high school, I knew I needed to get it together,” she said. “I started getting As and started pushing myself. And if I got a B I would be upset. And I just kept getting As all through high school.”

Phillips will stay in Shelby County to continue her education. She has been accepted into the Advantage Shelby County program through Ivy Tech which will help her complete her prerequisite courses at a minimal cost.

“I’m really excited for that. It’s going to be a big help financially to help me get things out of the way,” she said. “I know (college) is going to be tougher. I know I have financial responsibilities with that, too. I’m nervous about that ... having to pay for that. I’m hoping to get as many scholarships as I can.”

Phillips plans to follow up her start at Ivy Tech with enrollment either at IUPUI or IUPUC to get her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. And that can lead to a doctorate program in Neurosciences.

“I want to treat issues that have not been cured like depression, anxiety and other mental disorders,” she explained.

The youngest of Chad Phillips’ three children has no plans to leave Morristown anytime soon.

“It’s home,” she said. “It’s very tight knit and small. You come here and feel very safe. It’s a good place to live ... I think.”

Phillips’ final act as a Morristown student came on graduation day when she addressed the student body at graduation.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I could feel myself shaking. My voice was shaking. I could hardly look up at the people.”

Phillips kept her speech short and wanted to make sure there was a heartfelt message within it.

“I wrote it in one day and stuck with it,” she said. “I made a minor change but that was it.” 

And the message?

“I wanted everyone to remember what you went through and how it shaped you,” she said. “Never forget that because when you think back to it, you will want to come back to it.”

Best of the Best

The Shelbyville News is currently featuring the valedictorians and salutatorians for all five Shelby County High Schools.

Shelbyville High School’s top two students were previewed last week. Today and Tuesday will profile Morristown’s best.

Next week, Southwestern’s and Triton Central’s will show up on the front page with Waldron’s to close out the series early the following week.