No matter what day of the week you visit the Chesapeake Animal Services shelter or who you talk to there, Morgan Reid’s name is not only recognized, but inspires people to smile. The Kempsville High School rising senior volunteers her time here, walking dogs and cleaning cages — helping animals find a forever home.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, she moved quickly from cage to cage, her fit of blond curls bouncing on her shoulders. Reid’s voice lifted above the din of barks and echoing howls, and in a sweetly sing-song tone encouraged a caramel-colored pit bull to heel. It didn’t take long for her to coax him into a leash.
Like so many of the dogs at the shelter, this one was found wandering the streets without a collar. Reid and the other volunteers decided to name him Sergeant because of the way he strutted with his head held high in front of the other caged animals.
Less than a minute into his stint in the visitation room, Sergeant was half sitting, half standing in Reid’s lap. She wrapped an arm around the dog that then gratefully leaned in for a sloppy kiss.
“I love them all, but he’s my favorite,” Reid whispered as if to keep the other dogs from hearing. “He’s just really loving and playful.”
Reid came to this place last school year simply to fulfill her high school community service requirements. She stayed because she found the work fulfilling beyond measure. A straight-A student heading into her senior year and facing a course load that includes four Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Reid isn’t one to balk from fitting things into her already demanding schedule. While she serves as a tutor, is an active member of the Student Council Association (SCA) and competes with DECA, Reid still makes time to volunteer two to three days a week.
She simply doesn’t believe in making excuses. When the dogs at the shelter are hungry, she explained, they don’t need to hear “I can’t, I have homework to do.” Their needs are just as important as her own, she said.
“I don’t ever say I can’t about anything, I say I will,” Reid said. “You can’t spend your life being self-serving and making excuses when it comes time to step-up and help others.”
And stepping up she does. Reid believes in getting outside of her comfort zone and wants to make a difference in the world. That drive is why this summer she attended the United States Coast Guard’s Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) program in Connecticut — the precursor to applying for and attending the elite U.S. Coast Guard Academy. From marching to physical fitness tests, sailing to engineering activities, Reid tackled the work of a U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet. It was an experience that has shaped her future in an unexpected way.
“I realized that the Academy is not the right fit for me. So while it was the hardest week of my life, it was also a good one,” Reid said. “Before I thought I knew what path I was going to take after high school, but now I know I need to keep looking to find the right fit.”
Always up for a challenge, Reid is now considering a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She will spend her senior year working toward making that dream job a reality.
“Morgan has proven herself to be mature and responsible in all situations,” said Kelly Schoettlin, Kempsville’s SCA sponsor. “We believe in her.”
Kempsville Principal William Harris couldn’t agree more.
“Morgan is the type of student and person that we all hope that our daughters (and sons) will be,” Harris said. “She is universally kind, always positively engaged in conversation and activities; she seeks opportunities, and accepts and handles responsibility gracefully.”
For Harris, Reid is a student leader whom he can count on to welcome newcomers and to set a positive example of what it means to be a Chief.
“Morgan is always involved in what’s going on around the school, the bleachers, the auditorium or wherever Chiefs are gathered for one purpose or another,” Harris said. “She is proud to be a Chief and we are proud of her.”
Reid couldn’t imagine going to any other high school. Kempsville is a family, she said, one that you carry with you always.
“We all know each other and we all look out for each other so I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” she said. “All the things people say I embody, if I am any of those things it is because of this school and because that is what it means to be a Chief.”
Compass Keeper Q&A:
What is your favorite book?
“Anthem” by Ayn Rand
What is your favorite food?
What is your pet peeve?
“I hate when people do something just to benefit themselves without the thought of giving back or making a difference for others. It’s terrible to see people be self-serving.”
What is your dream vacation?
What is your favorite television show?
What is something about you that may surprise people about you?
“That I am actually an introvert. I think because I smile a lot and am comfortable with being just myself people think the opposite, but I really am an introvert.”
Do you know someone who should be featured as a Compass Keeper? Send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.