Class of 2020: Halle Speight

By: Mrs. Alison Bugg, Nexus Operations Manager
As the wife of an North Carolina State University alum, I have quite a bit of Wolfpack memorabilia around my home. Occasionally, when I reach into the kitchen cabinet for a drinking glass, I’ll pull one out emblazoned with the NC State emblem, as well as a passage from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Law for Wolves”:

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

The quote embodies the spirit of NC State - harnessing the power of the individual to bolster the power of the group. It also embodies the spirit, aspirations, energy and enthusiasm of one of our own Dolphins, who will leave the CHC pod to join the Wolfpack in the Fall of 2020.

Halle Speight joined the Cape Henry Collegiate community in the Sixth Grade, having transferred from Star of the Sea Catholic School. “I was so excited to come to Cape Henry because my mom was working there, and I was really excited about being able to go to a new school,” recalls Halle. Since Middle School is a natural transition phase for both new and returning students, it lessened the anxiety of what can sometimes be a fairly scary experience. “There were so many other new kids just like me that the transition was so easy,” says Halle. “Plus you’re transitioning from elementary school to middle school, so it’s new for everybody.

“I think it was also pretty easy because the Cape Henry community, you know, invites you right in.”

The Cape Henry community opened its arms to Halle, and she immediately took advantage of all the opportunities that it offered her. One of those opportunities that played an integral role in Halle’s life was her involvement in Nexus travel programs. Halle traveled on all three domestic Nexus travel programs in Middle School - the Grade 6 Geology program to Shenandoah National Park, the Grade 7 West Virginia program to ACE Adventure Resort, and the Grade 8 Washington DC program. It should be no surprise that Halle’s most treasured Middle School memory was traveling with her classmates to St. Croix in the Eighth Grade. “That was probably one of my favorite Nexus trips to date,” says Halle. She adds with a laugh, “I’ve been a lot of other really cool places, but I loved St. Croix.

“St. Croix was my first big trip away from home, and it was a big moment where I was on a plane without my parents. I loved it, and I got so close with some people in my grade on that trip.”

Halle expanded her passion for travel as she progressed into the Upper School, traveling with Nexus to the Galapagos Islands and Romania. “Romania was definitely an incredible experience,” recalls Halle. “Nexus trips in general were just amazing. And they inspired me to travel to other places. I took mission trips outside of school because I like Nexus so much.”

Those experiences, in addition to her time on the indoor and outdoor athletic courts, comprised some of her happiest memories at CHC. “Playing in TCIS with my tennis team was so fun,” recalls Halle, who has played tennis since Middle School. “And I look forward to it every year. It’s a great bonding experience for the team, and I love competing there every year.”

For Halle, who cheered for four years on the Upper School varsity team, and served as a captain this year, memories of watching the success of her friends and peers were just as sweet. “I definitely think that when we beat NA at NA - I was cheering at that game, and we all stormed the court.” Halle adds with a smile, “Beating NA in any sporting event was so fun.

“Going to the games with my friends, and being a supporter - I loved that.”

Fully embracing Cape Henry Collegiate’s core values of community and opportunity, Halle brought her deep well of enthusiasm, warm personality, and passion for service to a number of clubs and organizations both on and off campus. In addition to tennis and cheerleading, Halle was a member (and eventual president) of the Animal Outreach Club, as well as the Community Club, and OpSmile. Halle was also a Global Scholar during her Freshman and Sophomore years, and was inducted into the National Honor Society where she worked with her fellow Dolphins as a writing coach.

Halle also enjoyed her experience representing CHC through Virginia Beach’s Neptune Festival Princess Program. “You basically are an ambassador of your school, and you represent the next generation of women of Virginia Beach,” explains Halle. “It’s a service program, so I got to work with the Special Olympics, and help with events for the Neptune Festival. I also got to go to different galas and banquets, and work on events with the eldery.”

With so many athletic and extracurricular activities, it helps to have a supportive network of caring teachers to lean on along the way. This is the network that Halle credits with preparing her for the unique challenges of her Senior year, as well as what comes after. “Mrs. Cabreros - I love her,” Halle begins. “She’s so supportive, especially during this time. She’s been giving us Seniors a lot of advice and reinforcement.

“I really love Mrs. Moore, not just because she’s Rachel’s mom,” Halle adds with a laugh. “She’s just so awesome. She is like another mom, because I've been so close to Rachel all these years.” Halle continues, “I have a very deep respect for Mr. Palmer and Mr. McGraw. I feel like anything they would tell me, I believe it. I just have a genuine respect for those two men.

“Also, I taught camps with Mrs. Erbig over the summer, and I always loved art class, so I really also have a very close connection with her. I feel like I have a good connection with all of my teachers, actually.”

For Halle, coming to school each day was a family affair - Halle’s mother, Mrs. Gloria Speight, has worked as the Upper School administrative assistant since before Halle attended Cape Henry Collegiate. “It is a totally different experience, especially with the position my mom is in,” Halle says. “She’s the hub of the Upper School, and everyone knows her. So I’m kind of always Mrs. Speight’s kid,” she adds with a laugh. “But it’s also all I’ve ever known, since she was here before I was.

“I really have enjoyed having her on campus with me. Whenever I need anything, she’s there. And it’s going to be different being on a campus where not everyone knows my mom next year. It’s going to be interesting.”

As we move closer to marking two months of virtual learning, Halle is grateful that she heeded the guidance of the Class of 2019. “The best advice that I’ve received was definitely from the Senior Class last year, and it was to take advantage of all the opportunities that you get next year,” remembers Halle. “Unfortunately, that time was cut a little bit short. But I definitely think that was really important, to not waste that time away.

“And when we were in 8th grade going into high school, I remember Mrs. Hayes told us to take advantage of every opportunity that we were given. And, I mean, that’s why I joined the cheer team. I had no intentions of doing that, and then I ended up loving it and becoming a captain. And then going on every Nexus trip I could, joining as many clubs as I could - getting involved with everything I could be in. I definitely took that advice to heart.”

The day that Virginia schools were closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year will be one that our graduating seniors, including Halle, will never forget. “I remember that day very well,” Halle says. And it is that memory that compels Halle to share this advice with future CHC graduates: “With these very unique circumstances that we’re in now, definitely appreciate the time that you are at Cape Henry,” Halle says, “because I didn’t know when my last day was going to be. And really take advantage of the days that you have there, because it really is a special place.

“I’m never going to be in that environment ever again. And I’m very envious of the underclassmen and the rising Senior class that get to have a little more time at Cape Henry. So just appreciate the time that you have there, and take advantage of the abundance of opportunities and resources that you have.”

Having been accepted to all the colleges she had applied to (Clemson, Virginia Tech, JMU and NC State), Halle had a full complement of options when it came to the next chapter of her educational journey. After narrowing it down to Clemson and NC State, the Wolfpack eventually conquered the Tigers. “I love the area - that was kind of the deciding factor,” says Halle. “I had started meeting people from NC State, and had found a possible roommate.

“The people that I was meeting, and the community there, reminded me a lot of Cape Henry… even though there’s about 35,000 people! I wanted to be kind of close to home, I wanted a big city environment, big sports, and a big, spirited community that I could get involved in. I just saw all of those things at NC State.”

For now, Halle plans to major in communications with a concentration in public relations. She hopes to minor (or perhaps double-major) in either criminology, journalism or language studies. After several weeks of social distancing and stay at home orders, it is no surprise that the one thing that Halle is looking forward to is a fresh start. “I’m looking forward to everything being new, and new opportunities,” Halle says. “I’m looking forward to my roommate, because she’s awesome. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, getting involved, and sports.

“I’m also looking forward to football games, because I really haven’t had a lot of that at Cape Henry,” Halle adds with a laugh.

Beyond Raleigh, Halle’s big dreams are grounded in the foundation that she built during her seven years at Cape Henry Collegiate. “It’s kind of crazy, thinking of myself as a 23 year old, seeing where I am, and what my life looks like. But that’s what I’m looking forward to - just seeing where I’m at.” The possibilities are as limitless as Halle’s boundless determination, energy, and ambition. “I want to be fluent in other languages,” Halle says. “I’d love to either be a travel journalist or a police detective. I’d love to do some sort of job where I’m doing investigative journalism, being out in the world and traveling.”

While so much of our lives seems uncertain in this time of pandemic, there is no question for Halle that her time at CHC has prepared her to head out into the world as a confident and independent young woman. “I would describe my Cape Henry experience as a really positive place for me to develop and mature into who I am right now,” says Halle. “I definitely think that if I was at another school, I wouldn’t be who I am. And the good friends that I have, and the connections with my teachers, I don’t think I would have gotten those things anywhere else.

“Cape Henry has given me a lot of opportunities. It introduced me to the Neptune Festival program. It introduced me to some of my lifelong friends. It opened doors to me being able to go to the college that I really want to go to. And it has pushed me academically to get to a point where I feel like I’m going to be really prepared for the next step. It’s given me preparation and peace of mind knowing that I’m ready for next year, and whatever comes after that. And I’m really grateful for that.”
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