By GWEN SISSON
When they announced her name, Starkville High School’s 2011 Homecoming Queen said she was shocked, excited and scared all at the same time.
VerLyncia Leonard was crowned the 2011 SHS Homecoming Queen as part of Homecoming festivities at halftime Friday night on the football field.
“I couldn’t believe she had actually announced my name,” Leonard said. “(This honor) means a lot, and I’m extremely proud. I feel honored that my peers chose me to represent the school as their Homecoming Queen.”
SHS Principal Keith Fennell said as Homecoming Queen, Leonard embodies the spirit of SHS.
“She represents the SHS student body as a comprehensive, well-rounded student,” Fennell said. “She is involved in numerous extracurricular activities and is successful in her academic classes.”
Crowning of the Homecoming Queen and the winning football game rounded out what organizers said was a very special week at SHS.
“Homecoming is about becoming a part of something big, something special,” Fennell said. “The SHS faculty work to provide our Yellowjackets the opportunity to show their school spirit and compete among grade levels during the week long celebration. This year SHS had a great homecoming week with a lot of spirit because our faculty and students are proud to be Yellowjackets.”
SHS Trigonometry instructor Wade Williams said Leonard is a great student.
“VerLyncia is a very good student, very responsible, always on time and respectful of teachers and peers,” Williams said. “She is the kind of student that truly serves as the face of the Starkville School District. She embodies the spirit of Starkville High.”
Leonard said SHS means being able to be the best of the best.
“(The school) sets out a positive atmosphere that prepares you to be the best, not only in education, but as a overall person in the future,” Leonard said.
According to Leonard, maintaining good grades in school has always been very important.
“I study and pay attention in classes because my education is one of the most important things in my life right now,” Leonard said. “I take my education and schoolwork very seriously because it is one thing that will determine how I spend the rest of my life.”
Leonard is the daughter of Raphael and Lynn Leonard. She said her parents have been the biggest influence in her life. Her mom is a teacher at Armstrong Middle School. Her dad is employed at Flexsteel Industries, where he is a supervisor and has been employed for 25 years. She has two sisters and one brother — Lynsey, 24; Courtney, 22; and Raphael, 14, who all live in Starkville.
After Leonard graduates from SHS, she plans to attend Mississippi State University and try out for their cheer squad, while majoring in sociology or pharmacy.
Other than academics, Leonard is passionate about participating in church and community outreach events.
“I enjoy being able to reach out to other youth at my church,” Leonard said. “I also enjoy spending time representing my school by participating in clubs and organizations such as SADD and Key Club.”
She also loves to shop. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, singing and dancing, and participating in SHS sports such as cheerleading, softball, and track.