Johnson leads Selma High School class

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jalen Johnson didn’t go into high school aiming to be Selma High School’s 2017 valedictorian. All he wanted to do was be the best he could be. But it turns out, the best of himself, was also the best of the school.

“I didn’t know that I wanted to be a valedictorian. I knew I always wanted to do my best in my academic studies, so I didn’t really push myself to be valedictorian,” Johnson said. “But after so much hard work and God’s opportunities and blessing, it allowed me to become valedictorian.”

Johnson graduated from Selma High with a 4.3 grade point average and was involved in SGA, FBLA, Teen Court, Selma and Dallas County Youth Leadership, baseball, Kappa League, AFJROTC, YMCA Leaders Club and Men of Excellence. He plans to join the Air Force National Guard and attend the University of Alabama in the spring of 2018.

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In school, Johnson wants to major in criminal justice and eventually go to law school to become an attorney in Selma.

“As a child, I always wanted to be an attorney and I just wanted to come back to Selma and help the crime rate,” Johnson said. “I want to come back to Selma and help.”

Johnson said he had a lot of help along the way, between his parents Michael Johnson Sr. and Maxine Tarver, mentors and friends, he had many people pushing him to be the best he could be.

“I do remember a lot of people that helped me become valedictorian, and who helped me along to become the person I am today,” Jalen said. “I’ve had a lot of mentors … the list just goes on. There are some memorable people at Selma High School, adults and students.”

But it’s the late nights with his mom studying that he remembers the most.

“I remember late nights, I used to stay up doing work, me and my mom,” Jalen said. “My mom, she did a lot for me. From staying up with me at nights, to financing my duel enrollment program, to just being there all the time for me. My mom will always be my support and my motivation, and my dad as well.”

Jalen said he is excited for the next step and he is looking forward to the future.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “It will be a different experience. And that’s what I plan on doing, getting a different experience and bringing it back to Selma.”