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Sports injury inspires career for MMK grad

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Valley is valedictorian of Mary M. Knight's senior class

Jaycee Valley saw her first sonogram while she was being treated for a sports injury.

"I thought it was interesting that you could look inside the body," she said.

That procedure inspired Valley, the valedictorian of the Mary M. Knight High School class of 2016, to pursue a career in diagnostic medical sonography. Her academic excellence will help pay for her post-secondary education: When Principal John Schultz listed the names of scholarship winners at the graduation ceremony on June 11, Valley's name was announced eight times.

Ellen Perconti, the superintendent of the Mary M. Knight School District, called Valley "a leader, student, athlete and quality person."

"Jaycee is a model student," she said. "She takes a challenging course load and puts forth full effort in her classes. She models the balance of high academic standards with community service and athletic involvement."

Valley was born at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, and has always lived in Matlock. She has one sibling, 16-year-old brother L.J.

Valley started playing basketball when she was in the first grade; her father Lance was her coach. He also coached her during her four years playing for the Owls.

Valley served as the school's Associated Student Body president this past school year.

As a star for the basketball team, Valley was named All-League all four years. Last fall, she was the only senior on the team, which featured two freshmen and three eighth-graders.

"Jaycee embraced the team and in every aspect, she made them better," Perconti said.

"She mentored younger players, supported them in maintaining eligibility and was the coach on the floor. Jaycee plays unselfishly, calmly and with great drive. Her efforts have been rewarded with a second trip to the state tournament."

Valley played on the volleyball team her junior and senior years. She was also a member of the National Honor Society.

Valley graduated in a class of nine students. She's known four of her classmates since preschool.

The good thing about attending such a small school "is having teachers work with you one on one; you get the chance to know your teachers," she said. "You build a bond."

A downside is the shortage of educational options, Valley said. Chemistry, physics and foreign language classes are not available, she said.

Also, "Everyone knows everyone's business," Valley said.

But Valley said she'll miss her classmates and her small town. She plans to attend South Puget Sound Community College for two years to earn her prerequisite credits. Then it's on to Tacoma Community College to study in the diagnostic medical sonography program.

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Original Publication Date: June 23, 2016

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