With the new school year starting this month, Lake Norman Magazine has decided to honor some of the area’s most outstanding students, based on school nominations. These students have excelled both in and out of the classroom. And for that, we salute you!
NAME: KYLE FULLER AGE: 16GRADE/SCHOOL: RISING JUNIOR AT DAVIDSON DAY PARENTS: MICA AND SANDY FULLER
Kyle Fuller first started playing golf at five, hitting balls with his dad at a golf course near their house. But the game soon became more than just a fun way to spend a few hours with the old man, and by the time Kyle was 10 he was seriously hooked and had impressive skills.
Today Kyle plays almost daily at Northstone Country Club in Huntersville where he’s developed into one of the top junior golfers in the country. He won his second straight Southern Piedmont Athletic Association championship in May. His success on the course has already attracted college recruiters’ interests. His top finish at tournaments earned him an invitation to play at the Hank Haney American Junior Golf Association Open tournament.
When the Huntersville teen isn’t practicing chip shots, he works hard to maintain a 4.1 GPA amidst rigorous college-prep courses and even finds time to play for Davidson Day’s junior varsity basketball team. While he hopes to play golf in college, Kyle sees a future career in medicine. “I like helping people and enjoy studying science,” he says. “Medicine would be a great way to combine these interests.” NAME: NINA McVAYAGE: 12PARENTS: RAYMOND AND LISA MCVAYGRADE/SCHOOL: 7TH GRADER AT MT. MOURNE SCHOOL NAME: TANNER ORRAGE: 13 GRADE/SCHOOL: RISING 8TH GRADER AT MT. MOURNE SCHOOLPARENTS: JOE AND BETHANY ORR
Looking for a way to show their compassion and gratitude to U.S. military troops overseas, friends Nina McVay and Tanner Orr organized a Halloween candy collection at Mt. Mourne School and Lake Norman Elementary last fall. They collected over 400 pounds of goodies and treats, and shipped the donated candy to Operation Gratitude, a California-based organization that sends care packages to U.S. service members deployed in regions like Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It feels good to do something nice for the soldiers,” says Nina. “They’re overseas and don’t share the same privileges that we do.”
“Collecting donations is a positive way kids can support the troops,” adds Tanner. “Doing so lets them know people here at home care about them.”
In addition to their involvement with community-service events, the two also stay busy with their schoolwork and other activities. Tanner has been a standout pitcher for Mooresville Recreation League baseball teams while Nina spikes and digs as a member of the Race City Sports Volleyball Club.
Finding balance among studies, sports and activities is key, they say, and both credit their parents as role models for doing so. “My mom is a teacher and my dad coaches different recreation sports teams,” says Tanner. “I’ve watched them both balance their involvement in the community with family.”
“Managing responsibilities and allowing special time people in your life is important and I watch my mom do that every day,” Nina adds. NAME: TORY FOSTER AGE: 17GRADE/SCHOOL: RISING SENIOR AT CANNON SCHOOL PARENTS: TODD AND MEGAN FOSTER
Tory Foster lists a job on her resume as “independent and commissioned painting and drawing artist.” Like most resumes, it doesn’t paint the whole picture of who Tory is: a nationally recognized artist using her speed-painting talents to make a difference in the lives of children around the world.
“Speed painting lets you visually tell a story in a matter of minutes,” says Tory.
After videos of Tory’s unique artistic technique of slinging and tossing paint onto a canvas were posted online, she was contacted by Compassion First, an Oregon-based organization that helps children who are victims of sexual trafficking.
The organization invited Tory to Portland to paint at their international conference. The paintings that she completed onstage in front of 500 people in less than 12 minutes raised $4,500 toward the group’s mission.
When Tory isn’t tossing paint to create works of art, she’s usually studying to maintain her honors grades, attending one of her many after-school club meetings or serving as stage manager for Cannon School’s theatre productions. Career interests at this point are focused on art therapy, but other areas like marine biology (she’s a certified SCUBA diver) and psychology also top the list.
Tory credits her innate curiosity and spontaneity for helping her maintain a balanced life. “When I have a free moment I use it for something absolutely fantastically unexpected and fun, “she says. “Sometimes big planners forget that when something falls through, they can make something amazing out of that rare gem called time.” NAME: DAVID GOMEZAGE: 17GRADE/SCHOOL: RISING SENIOR AT PINE LAKE PREPARATORY PARENTS: MODESTO AND HEIDI SYKES-GOMEZ
If one day in the future we all have robot maids and butlers like so many science fiction stories have predicted, David Gomez may be helping design them. As captain of Pine Lake Preparatory School’s Team SPORK (Students Providing Outreach for Robotic Kinship), Gomez helped build a 50-inch tall, 150-pound robot that garnered regional and international awards for its hoops-shooting skills.
Earlier this year, the 33-member Team Spork won the Engineering Inspiration Award at a multi-state regional competition in Raleigh, as well as the annual FIRST international student robotics championships in St. Louis, where the team was the Dean’s List Winner, the international competition’s highest individual recognition.
When he’s not competing with Team SPORK, David is a member of the Pine Lake’s marching band, the Marching PRIDE. “Playing drums is a great way to relieve stress,” he says. The marching band earned several awards at the Carolina Cavalcade of Marching Bands last September, including first place overall and first place percussion.
David, who aspires to be an electrical engineer, loves the life experience building robots with his classmates provided. “I was able to work with actual engineers who shared their expertise with us,” Gomez says. “It’s fun to see people on the team grow and develop and apply science and math topics we’re learning in school to the real world.”
As he prepares to go to college, he has his sights set on creating a life-changing invention one day.
“I respect the past inventors who changed peoples’ lives and I aspire to invent something that makes life easier for someone,” Gomez says.
NAME: NICK LATZAGE: 17GRADE/SCHOOL: RISING SENIOR AT SOUTH IRDELL HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS: JOHN AND TRACY LATZ
Nick Latz likes playing football because of the chance to build relationships with other people and work together toward a common goal. He’s contributed to teams since third grade, most recently as a member of the South Iredell Vikings. He played most of the season on the junior varsity squad, earning the team’s MVP award. By season’s end, Vikings coach Scott Miller had Nick playing in varsity games, including the team’s playoff run.
This spring, Nick discovered another avenue for working with others toward a common goal: theatre. He landed a leading role in South Iredell’s production of “Godspell.” “Having never sang in public before I was nervous,” he says. “But working together with my classmates was great.”
When he’s not on stage or on the field, Nick, who’s in the International Baccalaureate program, works to maintain a 4.0 GPA in a curriculum that allows opportunities for personal development. Sophomore IB students are required to complete and present a project that reflects their interests in skills. Having always enjoyed woodworking, Nick put his talents to the test, and built a functioning rowboat big enough to accommodate three people. “We’ve tested it and it can hold 400 pounds worth of kids,” he says. “The (IB program) is rigorous and is definitely helping me grow my passion for learning.”