For Hunter Wright, a 2019 Central DeWitt High School graduate, school was not exactly his top priority.
He regarded it as little more than a chore until sixth grade.
But at a time when he needed it most, Wright had a number of role models who helped him realize the importance of his education in shaping his future.
One of those people was Central DeWitt High School graduate Mitch Green.
“I was a pool rat,” Wright said with a smile. “I was at the pool every day during the summer. Mitch was a lifeguard there, and he showed me how doing well in school could translate to other things … applying for scholarships, getting a good job … that’s when it really hit me.”
Green, a football player, made the simple suggestion that he become the team’s water boy, and Wright took that idea and ran with it.
The seemingly humble position, combined with the encouragement of his teachers — including intermediate school teacher Theresa Wainwright — inspired Wright to rethink his priorities.
Now, the 18-year-old son of Dawn Wright, of DeWitt, has graduated with a 3.85 grade-point average, was a four-year member of the football and track teams, was a captain of the football team, served for four years on the student council and as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, three years on the basketball team, two years in the high school’s Leadership Group and the School Improvement Committee, one year in the choir, became an Eagle Scout and now is an assistant scout master, and is extremely active in his church, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Mound.
Wright’s resolve to dedicate himself to his academics and become more involved in school, his community, and his church has remained constant, yet quiet.
“I never expected to get a ‘Good job!’ or a pat on the back for anything I did,” he related. “I just did what I did because I’d seen so many others lend a helping hand. I just figured people saw me as just another face in town. But, when people started calling me by name and asking if I was going to be going here or there, or doing this or that … that was eye-opening for me.”
Wright intends to study to become a secondary social studies teacher at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, in addition to playing football.
He credits his mom, who also is a teacher, and many other educators for motivating him not only to do well in school, but also to help him find his passion in life.
Now, he wants to do his part in encouraging future generations.
“It’s kind of like a pay-it-forward kind of thing,” Wright shared. “A domino effect. I would tell students who are struggling to ask for help. There are teachers who will help you; who want to see you succeed. They know what they’re talking about, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
“At the end of the day, you need to do your best because it’s what’s best for you. You’ll be happy with the outcome.”