Each September, the Godwin community comes together to select a senior as the Most Valuable Eagle (MVE). Seniors are first nominated by their classmates. Students who receive the most votes are then voted on by teachers and faculty to select the winner.
Grace Killius has been chosen as the 2020-2021 MVE. The runners-up include Amal Ali, Tarion Fields, Jordan Hughey, Arapava Saha, and Joseph Thompson.
Godwin principal, Leigh Dunvant, defines the MVE as someone who not only appreciates academics, but also the community around them.
“The [MVE] is: a person that values education, sets goals and works to accomplish them, makes contributions to a variety of school activities, exhibits character, integrity, and loyalty,” said Dunavant.
In the past, the candidates and winner have been announced at Senior Convocation in the GHS gymnasium. However, due to COVID-19, this year has been atypical. The winner learned before any of the students or teachers.
Dunavant and 12th grade assistant principal Mindy Guyer, surprised Killius with the news at her home.
“I was extremely surprised when I saw Mrs. Dunavant and Mrs. Guyer on my front lawn. I was actually across the street from my house when they rang the doorbell, so it served almost as a double surprise,” said Killius.
Throughout all four years of high school, Killius has shown her commitment to Godwin. She has participated in chorus both in Madrigals and Debut, No Eagle Left Behind, Circle of Friends, National English Honor Society, Utilitarian Philosophy Club, as well as Book Club, Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club, Tri-M, and Peer Helpers. She has also served as a class officer for four years.
“Being involved at our school has opened windows to connections that I would have received nowhere else. Creating strong relationships with my classmates outside of the classroom has made it much easier to establish relationships while also opening myself to opportunities I would never have received,” said Killius.
Jacob Devol, Godwin choir director, has been enthusiastic about Killius from the start.
“I actually heard about what a wonderful performer and person Grace is from my students at [my] last high school in Hanover County. The day I announced that I was leaving to go teach at Godwin, a graduating senior girl told me, ‘You’re going to have a student named Grace Killius, and she is amazing!’ And Grace has lived up to that reputation every day,” said Devol.
Dunavant also agrees that Killius is a wonderful person to be around.
“Grace is such a kind-hearted, well-rounded, positive thinker, who always puts others before herself. She is a friend to everyone and always has a smile on her face,” said Dunavant.
Killius’ mother, Katie Killius, is proud of how her daughter has developed over the past four years.
“As parents, we are shocked and amazed that the little girl who sang songs from “Aladdin” and “Chicken Little” constantly at three years old has blossomed into the beautiful and talented singer that she is today. She continues to impress us with her selflessness and compassion towards others,” said Katie Killius.
Ali Toole, a Godwin health and physical education teacher, is honored to have Killius as a student.
“As a teacher I was so excited to see Grace apply for Advanced PE at the end of last year. That excitement for me has continued throughout this school year,” said Toole.
Toole can feel Killius’ radiating energy even through the computer screen.
“I feel during this difficult time we can really see the shine from the rain and Grace is definitely a shining point in my life,” said Toole.
Advanced PE students help the Adaptive PE class, a special education class, with workouts and special activities for each student.
Working with people who have disabilities has played an integral part in Killius’ life. After Killius graduates from Godwin, she has plans to be a voice for people who have disabilities.
According to Katie Killius, Grace plans on attending a four-year university in the fall and looks forward to a career in disability advocacy.
Killius delved deeper into her passion through working with a group that helps to bring a group of Godwin students together with people who have disabilities.
“One organization I work with is called Studio Performance Academy, a group that I have performed with for the past ten years, while teaching for the past six. While the group itself has disbanded, I still help to organize a few of the events that it used to be a part of, [by] bringing a group of Godwin students to the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond Christmas Breakfast,” said Killius.
Over the summer, Killius has gotten the opportunity to work as an intern focusing on helping others.
“Another recent activity I have taken up is an internship with a startup company, Inclusively. Inclusively works to connect people with disabilities to Fortune 500 Companies looking to hire,” said Killius.
Katie Killius is proud at how much the Godwin community supports her daughter.
“We are so happy that [the] Godwin family values her as much as we do,” said Katie Killius.
Killius understands the importance of work ethic and knows what it means to be a part of the greater good.
“To be chosen for this award shows me that hard work and dedication always pays off in the end. For me to be chosen is a way of proving to myself that whatever small contributions I make to our school and its community truly does matter,” said Killius.
photo courtesy the Statesman
Video Henrico County Public Schools