JYA Graduation Press Release

The Piedmont School Awards First Diploma

By: Cinde Ingram, High Point Enterprise 


HIGH POINT- The Piedmont School named its high school in memory of a prominent supporter and awarded its first diploma during a ceremony Thursday night. 

Austin Roberts, 17, became the first graduate from the John Yowell Academy at The Piedmont School. 

"With the teachers and staff here, it always felt like your family at school," Roberts said. "Everybody was welcoming. The smaller classes and having the teacher work one-on-one with me really helped out a lot. When I came here in the sixth grade, my reading was at a second or third grade reading level. In a year or two, they got it up to reading at the same grade level I was."

Roberts said he never wanted to give up, but always tried to do his best. When asked what it was like to be the only member of his senior class, Roberts offered a positive view. "It's a neat feeling, knowing your're the first one and kind of setting a legacy," he said. 

Younger students looked up to Roberts, said Tim Montgomery, Head of School. "He's sort of the stalwart there at the top of the food chain," Montgomery said. "He's a big guy, but a softie when he works with the younger kids. He reads to the little kids and works with the young ones; he always has. This sets a great precedent because our kids who are in third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh grade, know he has traveled the same road and now he's graduating." 

Roberts, who enjoys history and firearms, hopes to continue learning about gunsmithing at Montgomery Community College in Troy after he is 21. Meanwhile, he will continue to participate in Civil War reenactments with a group based in Charlotte. Roberts got his pilot's license about six months ago, but is less include to pursue that as a career austingradpicbecause of a couple close calls. 

When asked to recall a favorite high schoo memory, Roberts said it would probably be of his senior year. "This was a good year and the high school seemed to be pretty established," said Roberts, the only son of Patti and George Roberts. 

The school also announced Thursday night that it's naming its high school for John Yowell, former chief operating officer and excutive vice president of Old Dominion Freight Line. Yowell served as president of the school's board from 2002-2005 and had begun another term in 2009 before his death on Dec. 30, 2010. 

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