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Vidalia Jr. High student leads Christian group

In addition to being someone that is always trying to lift others up around him, Vidalia Junior High School eighth-grade student Tristan Weatherly hopes to be a civil engineer when he grows up. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

In addition to being someone that is always trying to lift others up around him, Vidalia Junior High School eighth-grade student Tristan Weatherly hopes to be a civil engineer when he grows up. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia— Tristan Weatherly walks the halls of Vidalia Junior High School with one goal in mind — to serve up smiles.

The eighth-grader, 14, wears many hats throughout VJH, including leading his football team as the quarterback and the Fellowship of Christian Athletics Club as president — where he finds most of his inspiration.

“I like brightening someone’s day by giving them compliments,” Weatherly said.

Weatherly is not biased when it comes to giving complements, which is a trait he learned while being a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletics Club since the sixth grade.

“Sometimes I try to look for someone’s facial expression to determine their mood,” Weatherly said. “If I see that they’re down, I’ll try to give them a complement to make them feel better.”

However, Weatherly makes it a point to make everyone’s day — whether they are happy or sad.

VJH eighth-grade math teacher Melissa Lein said if she does not hear a compliment from Weatherly she knows something is wrong, but usually Weatherly is happy.

“Whether it’s a fellow student or a fellow teacher, he’s always there with some sort of positive encouraging word,” Lein said. “He’s got a fun goofy side to him but he can always take things seriously.”

When on the field, Weatherly said he tries to keep the same attitude with his teammates.

That’s the best way to lead, he said.

VJH head football coach Bernie Cooley enjoys watching Weatherly on and off the field.

“My favorite quality about him is his ability to be a leader,” Cooley said. “He’s got that quality about him that make others like to follow or be around him.”

Weatherly said he does not let football or school work get in the way of making his school a better place.

“Showing someone that you care doesn’t hurt, Weatherly said. I think we all should be that way.”

Weatherly plans to attend Louisiana State University to study in civil engineering and play football.

In addition to playing football, Weatherly likes to play baseball, fish and hunt.