Garris, Brewer named students of the month

Published 9:30 am Saturday, January 27, 2024

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Seniors at the county’s two public high schools were recently honored by the School Board of Isle of Wight County.

Jenna Garris of Windsor High School and Forest Brewer of Smithfield High School were selected for the January students of the month awards, according to a news release..

Each senior of the month receives a $500 scholarship made possible through donations from the school division’s business partners.  

Garris is the January WHS senior of the month. 

The release states that Garris is very considerate of other people’s feelings and strives to be a great role model to others. She tends to take on a “motherly” role with many of her classmates in that she is compassionate, empathetic and trustworthy. 

Garris often lends an ear and advice on how to navigate difficult situations, be it personal or academic. She has an innate ability to look ahead and problem solve, which makes her peers trust her opinions and know that she will be truthful, even when it may not be what they want to hear, the release stated.  

Garris is a highly involved student both at WHS and within the community. 

Being the youngest of four very competitive siblings, she has followed in their footsteps of excelling in a rigorous course load, including many AP, DE and some CTE offerings. She also distinguished herself by participating in many activities and sports, including Beta Club, Scholastic Bowl, theater, volleyball, and tennis, to name a few. 

Garris is a part of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board and a graduate of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Student Leadership Institute. She provides childcare for community members and volunteers with her church, and she makes all of this look effortless. 

“Jenna Garris is a phenomenal student, athlete, and citizen. She has been a part of the volleyball program here at Windsor for 4 years, both as a player and manager,”  varsity volleyball coach Lauren Lasater said. “Whether it was keeping the book or making kills on the court, she is an integral component to the Windsor Dukes volleyball team. Jenna’s sincerity can be felt in every move she makes and every word she speaks. Her dedication and hard work for the program are not easily replicated, and can be seen and felt in many other aspects of her life.”

After receiving her associates at Paul D. Camp, Garris plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing and psychology at a four-year college.

At SHS, Brewer received the school board’s January student of the month award.

Brewer is a quiet soul who leads with kindness and is a role model for underclassmen. He is a humble and giving young man and never hesitates to stop and help anyone in need, according to the news release. 

Although Brewer experienced a difficult start to his senior year, through it all he has kept up with his school work and continued support of his school community. He is an active member of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Beta Club, and a member of the boys varsity track team. 

Brewer is a swim coach at the Luter YMCA for children ages 4 to 16. He also is a volunteer at the Virginia Living Museum. Smithfield High School established a Best Buddies club last fall in which general education students are paired with students with special needs in a mentor/mentee setting. The mentors play board games with their buddy, help them with academics, work on projects and have lunch together on designated days, according to the release. This has been outstanding for all students involved. 

“As President of Best Buddies, Forest is the voice for this club and goes above and beyond to celebrate our students with special needs,” art teacher and Best Buddies club co-sponsor Alyssa Canady said. “He is always looking for ways to make Smithfield High School an inclusive, enjoyable experience for all students. He plans events for the Best Buddies program and is always seeking to make events for Best Buddies meaningful and positive.” 

After high school, Brewer plans to attend University of North Carolina Wilmington. He hopes to major in environmental studies and leadership.

Both students were recognized by the school board during the Jan. 11 meeting.

During the months of October through May, the school board recognizes a senior of the month from both high schools.