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FCHS’s Belwood brings excellence in all pursuits

No matter the season, Kaylin Belwood tops the charts. The newly-minted Class of 2020 graduate is one of the most well-rounded Tigers to ever walk the halls of Fayette County High.

Belwood was a key member of the soccer team, the band program, and the top student in her senior class.

“I like to be involved, and, with a wide variety of interests, I have had the opportunity to be a part of many different organizations at school,” said Kaylin Belwood. 

It also gave her an opportunity to grow with her friends in soccer and band.

“One of the major highlights of playing soccer and being in band is getting the opportunity to spend time with my friends,” she said. “My best friend also participated in both soccer and marching band. I was able to do the things I enjoy doing with the people I enjoy being around.”

Belwood was a key fixture of the Lady Tigers soccer team and FCHS’s prestigious band program. 
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

Belwood was the anchor of the Lady Tigers soccer team as the keeper and a multi-year captain. 

“From the moment Kaylin stepped on the field her freshman year, she did not act like a freshman. Each year, she got better and became a better leader. By her junior year, she was one of our captains,” said FCHS soccer coach Jennifer Ross. “She leads by her attitude and vision. When she speaks, others listen. She has a natural ability to lead, and, each game and year, she wants to get better, not for herself but for her team.”

The team boasted a 5-2-1 record when the season ended, cutting short another sure run to the playoffs. 

“She has helped turned our program around, and now we are expected to make it to the playoffs each year,” said Ross. “She is quiet but leads by example and her vision on the field. She doesn’t like the attention and would rather someone else shine. That is what makes her a good teammate, leader and overall person.”

Belwood also made sweet music as a member of the storied FCHS band program. 

“Kaylin is a perfect example of how a student can be successful in multiple areas. She was a model band member, earning a spot in the GMEA District 6 Honor Band and first chair in the FCHS Wind Ensemble, and served as a clarinet section leader of the Marching Tiger Band. She did all of this in band while maintaining superior grades and balancing time with sports, clubs, and other activities,” said Dr. Myra Rhoden, Director of Bands at FCHS. “Kaylin was always well-prepared, consistently led by example, and modeled to our younger band members that excellence is a habit, regardless of the class or activity in which you are involved.”

Belwood was the principal clarinetist in wind ensemble, clarinet section leader in marching band, and a member of the GMEA District 6 Honor Band. 

“I had the wonderful opportunity to study music under the High Queen of Fayetteville, Dr. (Myra) Rhoden,” said Belwood. “Her passion for music has driven me to be passionate about music, as well.”

Belwood shone her brightest in the classroom. She notched a perfect score on the ACT and was inducted into a number of academic groups, including National Honor Society and Beta Club, and she finished it off by being named Valedictorian of the Class of 2020 at FCHS. 

“We were excited for her. We feel that it is a representation of her educational path from Cleveland Elementary, then Bennett’s Mill Middle School, and finally to Fayette County High School,” her father, Jeff, said of her earning Valedictorian recognition. “This honor represents all of the great teachers she has had from elementary school on to high school. It is also a reflection of her hard work and dedication. Her goal was not necessarily to end up as being the valedictorian, but it is a result of her passion for learning.”

The balancing act alone is an impressive achievement. 

“Having to juggle all of her activities is what has made her successful,” said Jeff. “From an early age, Kaylin has always been involved in many school and extracurricular activities. In order to continue to pursue her passions, she realized early on that she had to manage her time wisely and put forth a lot of hard work and effort to accomplish her tasks.”

In between schoolwork, practices, and games or competition, she found time to squeeze in times with friends and hobbies like reading and lifting weights. 

“Early on, I learned that I would have to manage my time effectively and occasionally make sacrifices when presented with the choice of spending time with my family or working on school work,” she said. “I would tell any younger students that they should be aware of what they are getting themselves into. Tackling such a large amount of work is truly difficult and requires full commitment.”

The early end to her senior year brought a unique challenge: Free time. It’s something that had always been in short supply previously due to her loaded schedule.

“To be honest, it has been difficult for me to adjust,” she said. “Because I was so used to being busy all the time, this extra free time has really slowed me down.”

Not many Tigers have ever made a mark quite like Belwood. 

“Kaylin exemplifies excellence in all she does. She is intelligent, mild-mannered, kind, generous in her wit, and warm with a beautiful smile,” said FCHS Principal Yolanda Briggs-Johnson. “She has been a beacon of academia, earning a perfect score on the ACT, participating in THE Fayette County High School’s Marching Band from Tigerland, and playing on the varsity Lady Tiger soccer team. She has exhibited so many highlights while being a student on Tiger Trail. Kaylin embodies ‘WeAreFayette!’”

Next up, Belwood will attend Georgia Tech on a Zell Miller Scholarship and major in computer science. 

“I am not entirely sure where that will lead me once I graduate, but I look forward to the journey.”