AHS val, sal: Time with fathers inspired career choices

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 24, 2014

Andalusia High School valedictorian Maia O’Reilly chose her major while her dad was teaching her to drive.

Salutatorian Michael McCalman chose his while watching his dad work.

And each plans to get started on a career path by enrolling in Auburn University.

O’Reilly, who plans to pursue a career in architecture, said, “When my dad started to teach me how to drive, we would go to these little places with small roads. I started looking at old buildings and thinking, ‘How cool would it be to design something like that?’ ”

O’Reilly played clarinet in the marching band, was a Peer Helper and part of Anchor Club. She couldn’t name a favorite class.

“I like all of them,” she said. “I like bits and pieces of everything. I like history, I like science, I like math, and I like English. I enjoy balancing equations and reading a book equally.”

And while she didn’t exactly set as her goal “becoming valedictorian,” she said it was always something she thought about.

“I kind of just went, ‘If I do this, that might be what I get to.’ So I guess you could say it was my goal.”

O’Reilly lived in Missouri in her middle school years, and attended Red Level in fifth through eighth grades. She spent all of her high school years at AHS.

Outside of school, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and said she is enamored with her 11-month-old brother, Caolan.

“He’s adorable,” she said, adding that she also has a 12-year-old brother, James.

O’Reilly earned a tuition scholarship to Auburn.

McCalman, who plans to major in pre-med at AU, said as the son of a physician, he’s seen the tough part of the work.

“I know about leaving the house in the middle of the night and everything, he said. “I’d go up there (to the hospital) with him sometimes. When I was little, lived up there with him at his office. I still enjoy going sometimes. I just love interacting with patients.”

McCalman thinks he’ll enjoy building a relationship with people, and helping them.

“There are so many options, so many things, like a puzzle,” he said. “You put it all together, and try to figure out what is wrong.”

McCalman said graduating with honors was definitely a goal for him.

“It took studying and hard work,” he said. “I came to high school knowing I had a chance if I worked hard and studied.”

In addition to his school work, McCalman quarterbacked the Bulldogs, was in Key Club, and was treasurer of the National Honor Society. He also is active at Bethany Baptist Church, enjoys fishing with his father, and working out every day.

Being the quarterback was great experience, he said.

“There was definitely pressure, because everyone on the team looked up to you,” he said. “There was pressure to do well, and lead your team.”

McCalman attended Andalusia City Schools beginning in kindergarten. And even before he walked across the stage last night, he was already enrolled at LBW, where he will complete three courses this summer.

O’Reilly is the daughter of Gavin and Melissa O’Reilly. McCalman’s parents are David and Stacie McCalman.