Cox, Fulton earn top honors for Class of 2020

Posted 5/21/20

For the first time in Powell High School’s history, the valedictorian and salutatorian will be delivering pre-recorded speeches to their fellow graduates.

Jay Cox is the Class of …

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Cox, Fulton earn top honors for Class of 2020


For the first time in Powell High School’s history, the valedictorian and salutatorian will be delivering pre-recorded speeches to their fellow graduates.

Jay Cox is the Class of 2020’s valedictorian and Nic Fulton is salutatorian. Both seniors excelled in academics — Cox earned a weighted GPA of 4.239 and Fulton a 4.205 — while also staying involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Though the final months of their senior year didn’t go as planned, Fulton said he thinks “important” high school experiences are often overblown.

“It isn’t the event that matters, it’s how you feel about it,” Fulton said. “If you can’t get the experiences you expected, make your own.”

At the very least, he said, the new coronavirus “has given us all a more unique story to tell than a standard senior year.”

Cox also encouraged classmates “to remember that this isn’t the most important time in our lives.”

“There is so much to look forward to for each and every one of us,” Cox said. “Instead of mourning what we lost, look forward to the good things that are still yet to come.”

For Cox and Fulton, their next chapters will unfold at the University of Wyoming, as each received the Trustees’ Scholars Award, UW’s top academic scholarship.



Cox plans to study computer engineering while also competing on the track team.

A standout athlete, Cox won state championship titles in track, tennis and swimming, and he has fond memories with his teammates from each sport. Cox also received All-State honors in band.

Cox said he’s wanted to be valedictorian ever since his freshman year, “so to finally achieve my goal is extremely meaningful.”

“Between sports, music and academics, I didn’t have very much free time,” he said. “Sometimes I would go to bed past midnight after finishing up a school project, only to get up at 5 a.m. to make it to morning swim practice. But it was all worth it to get to be named valedictorian.”

Cox said he’s thankful for everyone who helped him get to this point — first and foremost, his parents, Chris and Phoebe Cox, who always helped him get back on track when he was frustrated or discouraged.

His teammates in all three sports also helped Cox “keep sight of what’s important.”

“My teammates were always there to cheer me on or provide stiff competition to make me the best that I could be,” he said.

Cox’s coaches have “been a tremendous influence in my life on and off the tennis court/swimming pool/track.”

Cox also appreciates his teachers, who taught him countless lessons throughout the years.

“I want to extend my sincerest apologies to my science teachers, who were subject to years of torment in the form of me arguing with them any time I felt I had wrongfully lost credit on a test,” he said.

Cox said he’s very thankful for the opportunities he’s had in Powell, in everything from athletics to academics to music.

“I had the chance to pursue just about anything I wanted, and luckily I was able to find success in several of the things I pursued,” Cox said. “I want to thank the town of Powell. It has given me the means to succeed in the form of opportunities and encouragement in the form of a loving and thoughtful community.”



During Fulton’s time at PHS, he starred in numerous theater productions, leading in “Rock of Ages” and taking on major roles in “Legally Blonde,” “Clue” and “Exit the Body.”

He also excelled on the speech and debate team, qualifying for the National Speech and Debate Competition.

“Everyone involved in drama club and speech and debate have been really great friends,” Fulton said.

He said his friends and teachers “have all been very important to me.”

“I’ve had a lot of really good teachers … who made school a lot of fun,” Fulton said, including Bob Hunt and Bailey Jackson, and speech coach Nicole Maier-Reitz.

His personal favorite experience in high school was in Jackson’s class.

“She had told us previously that she would never give us 100% on a paper because there is always room for improvement,” Fulton said.

Students were given the assignment to write an argument essay on any subject.

“Most people chose to argue gun control, abortions, GMOs, or other rather serious and often less than interesting subjects,” Fulton said. “I, however, chose to write an essay on how dolphins are the worst animal.”

He said it’s probably the essay he put the most time and effort into during his high school career.

“Presenting that argument gave me the same thrill I get during the opening night of shows,” Fulton said. “I was very proud to find that I got a 100 on that assignment.”

During Sunday’s graduation, Fulton will give his final presentation as a PHS student.

“Being salutatorian is really cool, and a great excuse for my mom to brag about me to relatives,” he said. “Seriously though, it’s a big honor.”

Fulton, who is the son of Troy and Diana Fulton, plans to major in psychology at UW.

“I’m not entirely sure what I want to do,” he said, but “I want to find a career where I can help people feel happy.”