originally published Summer 2017

When senior Avery Webster was named Mr. CHS at the Clinton High School Beauty and Beau pageant this year, he couldn’t contain his astonishment. “When my name was called, I really was speechless,” says Avery. “The only thing I was able to do was to give Mr. Goins a big hug when he said it.”

But the award wasn’t a surprise for those that know Avery.

“I have been secretly hoping all year that Avery would get Mr. CHS,” says teacher Dee Collins. “Nobody deserves it more than him. He lives and breathes for the Clinton Arrows. To me, that’s what Mr. CHS should be about. Like everyone else, I was thrilled when I heard he won.”

For Avery’s mother, Zenthia Webster, it was an emotional surprise. “I was holding back tears, it was so overwhelmingly awesome.”

Avery is best known for his involvement with the Clinton High School boys basketball team. He began assisting when he was a sophomore, and is now the team’s manager.

“He is a great helper,” says Coach Clay Norton. Avery helps get the gym ready for home games and helps out on the bench with whatever the team needs. “Avery loves sports, and being a part of a team sort of empowers and gives him a sense of ownership and belonging,” continues Norton. “He is constantly cheering for the guys on the team. He loves it when we win and hates it when we lose.”

“Avery is loved by everyone in the Clinton High community,” adds Coach Robert Stewart. “He is Clinton’s biggest supporter. You are a better person after coming in contact with Avery.”

From practices to playing in the state tournament this season, Avery has helped bring the Arrows closer together. His teammates consider Avery to be one of their coaches because he pushes and encourages them to do their best. “They accept Avery and do not treat him any differently,” says Norton.

“Avery is kindhearted, has a contagious personality, and is a really, really good person,” says teammate Galin Smith.

Harold McWade agrees: “Avery is an inspirational person. He is an awesome teammate and friend.”

During the Arrows senior night, Avery took an honorary shot that had the crowd on their feet. It was a perfect way to celebrate his three years with the team.

“I have enjoyed my high school years, but my senior year has been the most enjoyable ever,” says Avery. “It was more than an honor to receive the award and be Mr. Clinton. It meant so much to me to know that I was even thought of in that way.”

While Avery may not be the average student, it’s his attitude that sets him apart. “Avery is a wonderful, loving, and beautiful person,” says his mother. “He’s always smiling and happy. If you run into him, you can’t help but be happy too.”

Avery works as an office runner with his friend and teammate Jacobi Hearn. The job gives Avery a chance to say hi to his many fans he passes in the hallways.

“Avery is the kind of student that brightens your day,” says Hutchinson. “He comes in with a positive attitude, smiling, high-fiving and always wanting to know how your day is going.”

“Avery is a wonderful student. He works hard to overcome obstacles, and he truly enjoys being at school,” says Collins. “In class, Avery is very observant and is quick to cheer up anyone who is having a bad day. He is kind of famous for his pep-talks around here.”

“Avery is enthusiastic, heartwarming, and high-spirited. He never has a dull moment and is always smiling,” says friend and teammate Robert Davis.

Whether at home, school, or on the court, those that know Avery agree that he demonstrates the kind of character high school students should look up to.

“Avery shows what it means to be patient, to love, and to be accepting,” says Zenthia.

“He sees everyone equally,” adds Hutchinson. “He takes the time to speak to each person he encounters. It’s a genuine interaction. He’s sincerely concerned with all his friends and how they are and what is taking place in their daily life.”

“Avery is kind, compassionate, and so full of joy,” says Collins. “He is very intentional. He makes sure to say hello to me every morning, whether he is coming to my class that day or not. He really invests a lot of time in his friendships, and you can tell he truly cares.”

“He is very loyal, honest, and caring. He always makes a point to speak to everyone at school,” says Coach Norton. “Being around Avery makes you feel special.”

When he’s not cheering on the Arrows, Avery is playing video games or hanging out with friends. He is also very active at Brownsville Missionary Baptist Church.

Avery says he’s thankful for all his teachers and friends at Clinton, but especially for Coach Norton and the team for including and believing in him. “My classmates, friends, and teachers showed me that I am loved in many ways,” Avery says. “I love being a part of the Clinton Arrow squad to help support not only the basketball team, but all my friends.”

But the people at Clinton High School say they are the ones who are thankful to have Avery in their lives.

“Avery teaches me kindness and compassion,” Hutchinson says. “He also teaches me to laugh, and not to take life to serious.”

“Avery has a very special place in my heart,” says Norton. “He never has a bad day. Avery exemplifies every bit of good there is in a person and the world. There are many people who do not live life to the fullest like Avery does. But most of all, Avery is my friend.”

“I have learned to enjoy every moment of life, just like Avery does,” adds Collins. “My life is truly different because of Avery. That’s the kind of impact he has had on everyone at CHS. You can find me ugly crying at graduation on May 26th when Avery walks across the stage.”

-Abigail Walker

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A freelance writer from the Deep South with a love of reading, writing, dramatic storytelling, indie music, and her corgi pup.

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