Slidell Graduation 2018: Efforts of Davis, Shelton lead to smashing success

Published Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Layton Shelton and Taylor Davis

Salutatorian Layton Shelton and Valedictorian Taylor Davis. Messenger photo by Joe Duty, design by Joy Carrico

Throughout high school, Taylor Davis and Layton Shelton almost needed super human strength and quickness to bounce back and forth between their heavy slate of activities.

Both played on Slidell basketball teams, participated in the school’s state qualifying one-act plays and made it to state in UIL academic events, capturing medals.

Cover design by Pierre Moua

To accomplish it all, the Slidell duo, who will lead the Class of 2018 into graduation May 25 at Slidell High School, needed to rely on a few of their special abilities. Davis earned valedictorian and Shelton salutatorian.

“Improv. You have to wing it sometimes at a small school and you have to be flexible,” Davis said.

Shelton quickly countered: “Balance. With all the stuff we’ve got, you’ve got to balance everything. You’ve got to have a checklist.”

Davis and Shelton don’t shy away from admitting that there was a healthy competition for the top spots in their class.

“We’re just competitive as friends,” Davis said. “There was four of us that were really close. We’re all best friends.

“But I’m not only competitive with others. I’m competitive with myself. If I got a grade back that I thought could be better, I wanted to make it better. I know what I can do. If I didn’t succeed or do as well as I hoped, it really bothered me.”

Shelton recalled getting mad at himself in elementary school if he didn’t get an A. As he entered high school, he just figured he needed to get all A’s.

Slidell was the only school that Davis attended, following several siblings through the school system. She played basketball and was a part of most of the groups and organizations at the school. She finished third last year at state in informative speaking. Davis will spend part of her final week of high school in Austin, competing at the state academics meet for a third time.

After 13 years in Slidell, Davis is headed to Belton to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to study human resources.

“It’s a small private college. The classes are going to be more of the size I’m used to,” Davis said.

Shelton moved into Slidell his sophomore year after his father Lance took the girls basketball coaching job. It didn’t take long for him to find a home in Slidell. Shelton shined on the basketball court, leading the Greyhounds to three playoff appearances and a pair of district titles.

He also was a star in academic competitions. He finished third in news writing at state this year and finished sixth in theatrical design.

Shelton will stay close to home after graduation. He plans to attend Weatherford College Wise County to get his basics. He’s undecided on a career. He’s considered education.

Heading to the next phase, Davis and Shelton feel that their experience at Slidell has prepared them. They thanked teachers such as Beth Dill, Keisha Cope and Sheila Baekgaard for their help in and out of the classroom.

Shelton pointed out that he’s almost through a year of college with all his dual-credit courses.

“All the competitions, you have to be pretty mature to participate and do well in them,” Shelton said.

Davis added: “It’s helped us become more diverse. Big schools you only have the opportunity to do one or two things that you are really good at. At Slidell because it’s so small, we can do everything – play basketball, do UIL, one-act play. It helped to make us more well-rounded and that will help us in the future because we’ll be used to having a lot of things on our plate.”

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