EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first part of a series on Blue Mountain senior Dontae Knox. Look for part two in next week's Southern Sentinel.
Blue Mountain High School is one of the smallest schools in the state of Mississippi, but it’s home to a student destined to become one of the largest positive influences this world has to offer—Dontae Knox.
The senior, projected to graduate at the top of his class next May, attended three leadership conferences over the summer, the Apex Leadership Summit at Ole Miss, Mississippi College’s Super-Summer Summit and the Notre Dame University Summit of Sciences, Ethics and Responsibilities.
The three-sport athlete and student body president said the experiences gave him a vast amount of leadership knowledge. However, Knox doesn’t describe himself a typical out-spoken leader who tells others what to do.
He prefers a more humble approach.
“I believe I take more of a servant-leadership role,” said Knox. “I’d rather help someone out than tell them what to do.”
Knox, who plans to become anesthesiologists—not for the money, but for the opportunity to help others—attended the leadership summits over the month of July. He spent three days at Ole Miss, followed by nine days at Mississippi College and 10 days at Notre Dame.
The application process began in December 2012. He was notified of the his selections in late April. He didn’t waste the trips. He learned a lot that he hopes to bring back to Blue Mountain.
“At Apex, I learned how to be a leader. At Super-Summer, I learned how to really become a Christian and live a Christian life during school and wherever I go no matter what,” said Knox. “It all came together at Notre Dame. They’re Catholic so it provided me with opportunities to see how different religions work and to be a Christian student and a Christian leader in the classroom.”
Standout in the classroom
Knox has always been a standout in the classroom. Sarah Taylor, who wrote a recommendation to attend the conference, worked with Dontae on the Blue Mountain Student Council his junior year. Now she teaches him English and she’s very thankful to have such a student.”
“Dontae is our shining star in the town of Blue Mountain. He’s going to go very far in life. He’s one of the most driven kids I know,” said Taylor, who has been at Blue Mountain for two of her six years as a teacher. “He’s one of those students you just hope and dream for. You might get five in a lifetime, or just one if your lucky. And I’m so so excited to have him as a senior. He’s something for all of Tippah County to be proud of. He’s a special kid.”
Knox also got a recommendation from Brent Grisham, who teaches U.S. history at Blue Mountain. Grisham approached Knox about the conference at Notre Dame. The conference was funded through QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that connects low-income, high performing students with 35 of the nations top colleges.
“Dontae is a go-getter. He strives to be the best,” said Grisham. “He wants to get out there and make a difference. He wants to excel and succeed. He wants to contribute.”
Grisham said Knox’s leadership skills are evident every day in class in his demeanor and how he conducts himself.
“His leadership pays off in the class room,” added Grisham, who mentioned that Knox missed just four questions on the state history test required for graduation. “Other people see what Dontae can do and they want to do it too. They naturally follow him. Any class he’s in automatically improves.”
Knox wants to use his leadership role to improve the lives of others. He said he will do that by inviting his fellow students or anyone he meets to church. He attends Lowery Baptist in Blue Mountain.
“I believe I can do it (be a leader) here while I am in high school by inviting people to church,” said Knox. “Its about being a leader, but it’s more about bringing people to the Lord. I plan to invite people to church on Wednesdays and Sundays.
“I plan to invite them not to say that I’m a good person, but to show them the love of God. That’s what I really want people to see. Coach (David) Mason was talking to us about legacy. I would love for my legacy to be that he tried to bring people to know God.”
See more on Knox in next week’s Southern Sentinel, where you’ll find out about some of his experiences at the conferences and where he believes he got his humble spirit.
Knox is the son of Priscilla Knox of Blue Mountain. He has one brother, Tevin.