By Debbie Adams
Justin Patrick has been named Top Terrier at William Byrd High School for the 2022-2023 school year. The Top Terrier Award is a coveted award and a proud tradition at WBHS, started by Principal Tammy Newcomb in the 2016-2017 school year in her first year as principal.
The chosen student is typically revealed at an assembly on the first day of school with all students gathered in the gym or in the stadium for the announcement.
“Students and faculty select one student who represents the qualities of a Terrier, a champion,” said Newcomb in the lead-up to introducing the new Top Terrier. “The Terrier is a source of inspiration for all throughout the school year and it is the highest single honor bestowed on a student at William Byrd High School.
“The Top Terrier was nominated by students, elected by the faculty, and awarded to the senior who best exemplifies the qualities of integrity, loyalty, courage of character, and who serves as a role model for everyone,” Newcomb continued. “The student is academically strong and involved in the school. This person should be one you immediately think about when you think of school pride.”
Five students were nominated for the Top Terrier award at the end of their junior year. Those five students submitted a resume that was shared with the WBHS staff. The staff then voted to select the next Top Terrier.
Students gathered in the gym on August 11 to be welcomed back to school by Newcomb and her faculty and staff. First up on the agenda was the first Senior Walk of this school year, as all Class of 2023 members entered the gym through a cordon of cheerleaders. They were introduced by SCA President Madison Burks, and Dog Pound leaders Dylan Hughes and Maddy Simmons, who all encouraged students to become active in school life.
There were cheers of “Let’s Go Byrd” and the spirited performance of “The Hum” by the student body. A video created by Justin Patrick on returning to school after summer break and featuring the Terrier Mascot was debuted.
Roanoke County Schools Community Outreach Director Chuck Lionberger next led the countdown to the announcement of the Top Terrier, which is kept a secret up to that point.
Patrick thanked the students and staff for their support, saying that the award “means a lot to me; it’s a real honor.”
Patrick has an impressive resume which leaves no doubt about why he was selected as this year’s Top Terrier. He attends not only WBHS, but the Specialty Center for Mass Communication in the Governor’s STEM Academy at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology. He is also a student at Virginia Western Community College. He maintains at least a 4.0 GPA in all these programs. He received first place in Regionals and State for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) 2022 and competed in Nationals this summer.
At Byrd, he serves as editor and videographer for Terrier TV, videoing, editing, and compiling the video clips that compose the weekly episodes of the WBHS student news. He is also on the Media Production Crew at Bonsack Baptist Church where he videos the Sunday morning LIVE services once a month and youth events.
He has been a summer camp assistant for the Weekday Early Education Center (W.E.E.C.) program. He is a videographer with the Rail Yard Dawgs professional hockey team Media Production Crew, where he uses a hand-held video camera to video the players on ice during the game. His videos go straight to the Livestream/Jumbotron.
In addition, he is a videographer for the Salem Red Sox professional baseball team. And in his spare time, Patrick is self-employed, doing landscaping in his community, mowing and trimming yards.
He serves on Student Voices and the Student Council Association. He helped plan Homecoming on the Junior Council and wore the Dog Pound Terrier Mascot costume to promote school spirit during events.
He volunteers with his family and Sunday School class to provide dinners at Straight Street. In April 2022, Patrick volunteered with Friendship House in downtown Roanoke to help prepare a newly acquired house for refugee families.
He is an active member of the Bonsack Baptist Church Youth Student Council. This past March he traveled with his church’s youth group to the Dominican Republic to help with construction of a local school and a Youth Center. They also distributed food to Haitian refugees.
Patrick is the son of Ginny Lynn and Keith Patrick.
To conclude the assembly, Newcomb talked to students about safety at school, reminding them to “be safe, be respectful, and be responsible. If you see something, say something.” She also encouraged students to become involved and engaged—and of the importance of just showing up.
Teacher and Senior Class sponsor Hannah Prater facilitated the assembly. Other class sponsors include Cherrybell Damasco-Farrington, junior class; Sherri Mays, sophomore class; and Lauren Pearson, freshman class.
Previous Top Terriers are Stephen Olsen in 2016-2017, Abby Spotswood in 2017-2018, Megan James in 2018-2019, Emily Nicely in 2019-2020, Dylan Hatfield in 2020-2021, and Chloe Harrilla in 2021-2022.