Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian


Claire Southard

Claire Southard has been named the valedictorian of the Notre Dame Regional High School Class of 2021. Claire is the daughter of Stephen and Julie Southard of Cape Girardeau and is a member of LaCroix United Methodist Church. Academically, Claire has served as captain of the Varsity Scholar Bowl team, president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Spanish National Honor Society, treasurer of the French National Honor Society, a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and participates in the Notre Dame Band.

She is also a student-athlete competing on the Girls’ Varsity Tennis team.

Claire competed at MSHSAA state tournaments in the Tennis Team, Tennis Individuals, Scholar Bowl, Piano, and Flute competitions; she placed fifth in Tennis Doubles. Additionally, she was named to All-State, All-Southeast Missouri, All-Conference, and All-District Tennis teams and was an All-District Band member four consecutive years.

Claire has also received other scholastic and service honors including National Merit Finalist, National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program Scholar, Missouri Scholars 100, Presidential Scholars nominee, three gold medals on the National Spanish Exam, silver medal on the National French Exam, Varsity Christian Service Award, and medalist in six Math Field Day events.

Claire has not finalized her plans for after graduation and is currently deciding between Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, Notre Dame University, Rice University, and University of Alabama. She plans on conducting medical research in the neuroscience field.

“I would like to thank my parents for always being my greatest advocates,” said Southard. “They’ve pushed me to become the best version of myself and wholeheartedly supported me in all of my endeavors. I don’t know where I would be without them, and I will forever be grateful for their love and encouragement. I truly could not have asked for a better mom and dad.”


Emma Higgins

Emma Higgins has been named the salutatorian of the Notre Dame Regional High School Class of 2021. Emma is the daughter of Brian and Crystal Higgins of Jackson and is a member of Immaculate Conception Church.

Academically, Emma is involved in National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, and served as secretary for National Spanish Honor Society. As a student-athlete, Emma competed on the Girls’ Basketball team and the Cross Country team. Emma also performs with Select Singers and earned All-District Honor Choir.

Her other extracurricular activities include Franciscan Leadership Club, Athletes Give Back, Women in God’s Service (WinGS) club, and Friends of Mercy club. Emma’s scholastic and service honors include the Bright Flight Scholarship, two silver medals on the National Spanish Exam, honorable mention on the National Spanish Exam, and Academic Letters all four years.

After graduation, Emma plans to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville to major in Biochemistry. She hopes to pursue a career in biomedical research.

“I would like to thank my parents, brother, friends, classmates, and IC Youth Group for always supporting me,” said Higgins. “I would also like to thank my teachers for all of their help.”