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Foster excels in class, on court

By Sherri Ellington Lamar County can boast not one but two valedictorians this year. Brittany Foster, daughter of Jody and Melanie Foster of Barnesville, grabbed the honor for Griffin Christian Academy’s high school. ’I talked about potentials,’ she said. ‘I get really nervous when I get up and talk in front of people but I was pretty excited.’ Her mother, the former Melanie Waller was the Barnesville Academy valedictorian for the class of 1986. She did not get to read her daughter’s speech beforehand. ‘She wouldn’t let me,’ said Melanie. Brittany, the granddaughter of Larry and Glenna Waller of Barnesville and Tommy and Rita Foster of Macon, also graduated this year from Gordon State College, magna cum laude, with an associate’s degree in biology. She walked in the ceremony but did not get her degree until after the Griffin Christian graduation May 23. ‘It’s called the ACCEL program,’ she said. ‘You take college courses for high school credit. I just did a little bit more.’ She has attended Griffin Christian since fourth grade and plans to attend Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland on volleyball, academic and leadership scholarships. ’We’re very thankful for the scholarships,’ said Melanie. ‘She worked hard to get them.’ ‘I wrote a lot of essays,’ Brittany added. Her scholarships include one from Southern Rivers Energy. ’I’m very proud of her,’ said Melanie. ‘She’s worked extremely hard. It was impressive. She’s already taken more science classes than I ever had ‘“ and I attended a few Gordon classes while I was in high school. I had a quarter behind me when I left home.’ Brittany plans to concentrate on pre-medicine at Truett-Mc-Connell, thus the associate’s in biology. ’I thought it would be a good starting point,’ she said. ‘I really enjoy science.’ She also worked some at Gordon and hopes to find a job to help out her expenses at Truett-McConnell. ’My leadership scholarship requires 60 hours of community service,’ she said. ‘A job may be hard to work around my volleyball schedule too. I live in the gym.’ That is good, Melanie jokes, because her younger brother Jake, a rising junior at Griffin Christian, is threatening to take over her room. In addition to being top of their class, mother and daughter also hold sports in common. Melanie played two seasons of intercollegiate volleyball at Mercer University, from which she graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s in business administration. She was a walk-on on the team, having played basketball in high school. ’I’ve coached three years ‘“ softball, basketball, volleyball,’ she said. ‘Brittany gets it hon­estly.’ In addition to coaching, Melanie is a mediator for the court system and vice president of Waller Transport. I played softball about 12 years,’ said Brittany. ’When I got to middle school I switched to volleyball. I had to choose and I was better in volleyball.’ Brittany was named all-region, all-state and all-star in volleyball at Griffin Christian as well as all-region in basketball. She also was a part of the Southern Unified team, which recently attended a tournament in Atlanta. They won and are now headed to Kentucky. With a heavy academic and sports schedule, Brittany also takes time to do mission work in the Philippines with her grandmother’s charity Little Children of the World. ‘I’ve been three times on mission trips and I’ll go again this summer with Jake,’ she said. ‘My favorite part is working with the medical teams, which is what drew me to pre-med. I wanted to be a marine biologist for years then decided on the medical field. I like to help people.’ She is also active at Antioch Baptist Church near Yatesville and attends the college group at Barnesville First Baptist Church. ’I like to stay busy,’ she said. ‘I get bored if I’m not running from place to place doing something all the time.’ ’That runs in the family,’ said Melanie. Brittany agrees: ‘I’ve had some tremendous role models as far as my work ethics.’

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