By Pete Zamplas- Moriah Fender is a role model for her peers and youth, as an articulate and thoughtful leader who wants to help others.
The West Henderson Student Body President will graduate tomorrow (Friday) with her Falcon classmates.
Fender was keynote speaker for Henderson County Public Schools’ recent Teacher of the Year Award Luncheon.
She was the sole student to speak, in front of teachers from each of the 23 local public schools and several school administrators and school board members.
Many at the luncheon said that was the best speech they recall a local student giving.
Fender in her speech credited her teachers for “building a foundation for the future” in molding students. “You are all world changers…you change one person at a time.”
In her case, she said West teachers made her feel “challenged, outside of my comfort zone.” She said in result, she burst through self-imposed “limitations” to better realize her “true potential.” She later noted advanced placement chemistry is example of a class she took on outside her academic power zone, and enjoyed Amy Zalevskiy’s inspiring instruction.
In time in high school, Fender became more extroverted and more of a doer and leader. She is editor of the award-winning yearbook, West Wing. She joined the school talent show. She leads the school’s student government.
“Moriah Fender has a zest for life,” Supt. Bo Caldwell said at the luncheon. “She leads by example. She is the heartbeat of West Henderson.”
Fender is also involved beyond West, in the community. She is V.P. of local Junior Civitan. Above all, Fender is president of the county-wide Youth Council that advocates on issues affecting teens and can lobby local government. That United Way group is also service-oriented, in addition to training future leaders. Trail cleaning is among civic projects she has helped spark.
“World changer” is also what Fender wants to become. She said her teachers fostered such far-reaching ambition, along with her sense of achievement and aptitude.
Moriah Noelle Fender is on track to study at UNC-Chapel Hill. She plans on majoring in public health. She told The Tribune that she aspires to work as a medical missionary — “wherever the need is.” Already active with church missions, she has volunteered in Brazil, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
“Moriah’s heart is into serving people,” her mother Lynne Sheriff Fender said. Lynne teaches advanced students (Academically and Intellectually Gifted/AIG) in Etowah and Fletcher elementary schools.
Chief Technology Officer Rick Fender oversees technology for the entire school system.
Moriah gets a great review as a scholar and student leader, and also for maturity and poise. “Every single decision that Moriah makes is a good decision,” West principal Shannon Auten said of Fender in the classroom and beyond. “She’s mature beyond her years.”
Mrs. Auten said “Moriah leads by doing,” and boosts student enthusiasm at sporting events. Moriah and her good friend Katie King came up with some new cheers for Falcon sports teams,
“V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!” is a favorite chant initiated by Fender. Victory was usually the result in such sports as volleyball. West won the area’s premier conference, the WMAC, over Reynolds and other powers last fall and was the last team standing in 3A baseball playoffs this spring.
“Follow the ball” is another cheer for volleyball. If the other team made a good play and celebrated but West still led, “score-board!” was the chant. Once West reached a commanding lead, the students yelled “start the buses!” for the visitors to head home.
Matthew Dylewski led West’s student cheering section, to implement newer and more established cheers. He even got volleyball players on the bench to join in on chants such as “R-O-W-D-Y!” He said he will miss “school spirit” the most from his Falcon days. UNC-Charlotte-bound Dylewski eyes a computer science major.
Senior Class President King and Fender are among West’s 15 scholars with the highest cumulative grade-point average. King is heading to N.C. State.
King wants to teach high school math. King figures the best way to make math fun to learn is to point out its practical uses, and with “hands-on projects to put a concept into real situations.” Such insights from students of all four main high schools will be featured in The Tribune next week.