WINCHESTER — Eighteen-year-old Chance Grove stands 6 feet 7 inches tall. Despite his imposing stature, James Wood High School Principal Sam Gross describes him as a “big Teddy bear.”

“He’s always looking for ways to help people out,” Gross said.

Grove and his classmates in James Wood’s Class of 2019 will graduate at 7 p.m. today in Jerry Kelican Stadium.

During his time at James Wood, Grove was a student leader who served as senior class Student Council Association representative and an athlete who played varsity football and was a state-qualifying discus thrower on the track team. His junior year, he broke the school’s 52-year-old discus record by throwing a distance of 162 feet and 8 inches.

“That’s where I really learned you have to work for what you achieve,” Grove said.

He’s proud of the record, but it’s the lessons he has learned through sports and the friends he has made that mean the most to him.

Despite his accomplishments, his mother is most proud of his kindness and ability to make sure everyone feels included. “He doesn’t let anybody be left out, if he can help it,” said Susie Grove, a world history teacher who has worked at James Wood for 24 years.

“I’ve been really proud of how he’s become involved and really come out of his shell in high school,” she said. “He was kind of a quiet, shy kid in middle school, which was fine, but really he kind of bloomed in high school.”

Until his freshman year, he had never gone to a friend’s house to hang out. Fast forward to his senior, when he was chosen as homecoming king, which he said helped boost his confidence.

“I honestly did not expect to win it,” he said. “It’s helped me develop as a person.”

Being a shy kid growing up, Grove said he has tried to reach out to a lot of different classmates in high school, because he knows what it’s like to feel alone.

“I’m generally a caring person. I hate to see people upset or feel like they don’t have anyone,” he said.

Even at track meets, Grove could be spotted working with his competitors and giving them feedback on how they could improve.

“It’s those type of things you don’t see in most people today,” Gross said. “It puts him a step above everyone else in my opinion.”

For Grove, James Wood is like a second home. He was two weeks old the first time he visited the school. In middle school, he would catch the bus there, so staff grew familiar with him.

Once he got to high school, “I just kind of took in the atmosphere more because I saw it as a fresh start and kind of embraced the people and teachers. I feel like I’ve been a part of this school my whole life,” he said.

Grove, who has a 4.06 grade point average, plans to attend James Madison University in the fall to study sports and hospitality management. Though he’s not sure what kind of career he wants to pursue, he knows he wants it to be sports-related because sports have helped shape who he is today.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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