Forty-three seniors from Pillow Academy’s Class of 2019 are set to graduate Friday during the school’s commencement ceremony.

The graduation service will be held at 6 p.m. at the Leflore County Civic Center.

Seniors Sunjay Chawla and John Hollis Tackett are this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. Both have been very active in sports and other extracurriculars while at Pillow.

Chawla has a 4.89 GPA. He will attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He’s unsure of his major but said he’d like to study something business-oriented.

Sunjay Chawla


While at school, Chawla played soccer, tennis and golf and also participated in several clubs, such as Spanish Club and the National Honor Society. He has received numerous accolades both for sports and academics, including being recognized as the national Wendy’s High School Heisman winner in 2018.

Chawla said he’s had several favorite memories from Pillow, such as going to senior prom and winning the state’s soccer championship when he was in 10th grade.

However, he said his fondest memory was just being able to spend time with his class throughout the years to graduate with. “I couldn’t ask for a better group,” he said.

Tackett’s GPA is 4.84. He will attend the  Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi, where he’ll major in engineering and also study pre-med.

John Hollis Tackett


He is the assistant editor of The Pony Express, the Pillow newspaper and has also participated in Quiz Bowl, Model Security Council, and other organizations.

Tackett also participated in several sports, including cross country, track and tennis.

“I’d probably just say playing sports, making friends through that. That was probably my favorite part about Pillow,” Tackett said.

The accolades he received include Rotary Club student of the month. He will attend Boys State this summer.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or

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