First Flight’s top trio soaring to Wilmington, Chapel Hill

Published 5:51 pm Monday, June 20, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

First Flight’s valedictorian and co-salutatorians were all smiles graduation night as they soaked in the limelight while on stage in front of a standing room only crowd at the football stadium.

The trio of student-athletes thrived at First Flight and were recognized for having the best grade point averages. They were also involved in interesting extracurricular activities.

Now, they’ll each head in different directions, hoping to achieve degrees in science, journalism and nutrition.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

Brylie King, First Flight Valedictorian

Cheerleader, lacrosse player and grocery store cashier Brylie King graduated First Flight High School at the top of her class Friday night in Kill Devil Hills.

Being named the valedictorian of the Class of 2021-22 was something that seemed to shake her up a bit, but in a good way.

“It feels great,” King said Thursday. “Exciting and nerve racking!

“All of the hard work . . . to get something out of it is really exciting,” she said.

King reports that she plans to attend UNC Wilmington to study marine biology and environmental sciences.

While she’s there, King can continue cheerleading as she’s already onboard to attend a Seahawks practice, she said.

“I’m going Sunday to a fundraising cheer camp where we will teach them [area youth] a cheer to perform at a basketball game,” she said Thursday.

Three-year veterans of the squad, the Miller twins – Hailey and Shelby – graduated from First Flight in 2019.

“They said ‘you should try this, it’s so much fun!’” King said.

Another neat accomplishment during her career at First Flight was thriving in varsity lacrosse, a relatively new program for the Nighthawks.

“I started freshman year and fell in love with it,” King said. “I made second team all conference and was a captain this year.”

She was also proud of her involvement with the Student Government Association’s executive board, where she helped plan prom, homecoming and Spirit Week.

Now, she’ll transform from a Nighthawk to a Seahawk.

Maggie McNinch, First Flight Co-Salutatorian

After excelling in Introduction to Publications freshman year, Maggie McNinch put her heart and soul into journalism during her years at First Flight.

Her efforts, including serving as co-editor of the Nighthawk News Magazine senior year, have paid off big time. For her college education, McNinch will head to journalism school at UNC Chapel Hill, one of the best in the country.

She has an assured enrollment to the Huffman School of Journalism. But first, she’ll take a gap year to study in Ecuador, South America or perhaps in Alaska.

“I’m keeping my options open,” McNinch said. “I’m going to study to be a journalist; I’m really excited.”

Freshman year, she realized she was interested in doing a “bunch” of writing. So sophomore year as a staff writer, McNinch cranked out story after story. Junior year she focused on features.

“I worked really hard and was chosen to be a co-editor,” McNinch said. “I tried to be a leader in class.”

Along the way, she also took challenging science and math classes.

“Lots of AP classes . . . biology, environmental science,” she said. “Calculus – that was a hard class!”

McNinch also excelled at soccer and served as a captain of the squad this season, a team who made it to the second of the state 2A playoffs.

To round things off, she also ran track in the winter and spring season and cross country in the fall, McNinch noted.

As for Friday night’s festivities, she could hardly wait.

“I’m really exciting about graduation,” McNinch said to The Coastland Times ahead of the ceremony. “I’m looking forward to hearing what the others have to say.”

Kayla Hallac, First Flight Co-Salutatorian

Another Nighthawk News Magazine co-editor, Kayla Hallac, also plans to head to Chapel Hill to attend the Gillings School of Public Health.

She intends to major in nutrition. The pre-med track could lead her to being a doctor one day, but only time will tell, Hallac said.

“I believe so, not sure yet; nothing set in stone,” she said. Like McNinch, she treasured her time in the publications classroom with teacher Steve Hanf.

“We love it!” she said. “I’ve always loved writing.”

During the past four years, Hallac realized she could help people with her meaningful stories about members of the community including Tatum Love, Sawyer Sanchez and Tricia Lawrenson, who were each experiencing health issues.

“I think they saw their voices were being heard and that’s what I was trying to do,” she said.

Along the way, people took notice of her passionate work.

“I won several awards and people kept coming up telling me they liked my article or it meant something to them and it was fulfilling,” Hallac said.

She admits she has a love for learning and health sciences are her specialty.

Hallac and McNinch, both Tar Heel fans, worked hard on the student paper and it showed.

The cover of The Senior Edition, Summer 2022, features all the graduates in their gowns giving a salute with their caps from the base of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which is adjacent to First Flight.