Zion Collins, Manchester Valley grad, on the move toward military life

Zion Collins, who spent his time in Carroll running track, plans to join the service post-grad.

Manchester Valley High School graduate Zion Collins has bounced around a lot.

He was born in Virginia and spent some time between Maryland and Georgia before winding up in Carroll County for his last two years of high school. And in those two years, Collins kept on moving — this time as a member of the track and field team.


Collins ran a number of different events during his time, and was on both the indoor and outdoor track team, he said.

"It's a good atmosphere," Collins said of the team. "I've always been active, so running is not a biggie."

Plus, he said, he got to know a lot of people at Manchester Valley and in other Carroll schools through track meets. Moving to Carroll was a bit of an adjustment, he said.

"It was slow. It's different," he said, adding that it's kind of a "country" area.

But it wasn't too big of a culture shock and getting involved in an activity helped him acclimate, Collins said.

Overall, Collins added, he had a good high school experience.

"Everybody's always helped me out," he said.

Bernie Koontz, a teacher at the school and assistant track and field coach, said Collins was always a respectful student and team member, and did what was asked of him. He ran relays and individual races, sometimes for varsity and sometimes for junior varsity, Koontz said.

Koontz said Collins was more of a leader his junior year before North Carroll High School and Manchester Valley merged, but even as more seniors from North Carroll stepped up this year, Collins was still a team member people worked well with.

He may not have been an outspoken leader, Koontz added, but he was someone that really got along with everyone. Collins was friendly and outgoing, he added — most anybody on the team could relate to him.

In addition to his time spent in track, Collins said he volunteers at his grandmother's church — From the Heart Church Ministries in Clinton.

"I try to do as much community stuff as I can," he said.

While in school, Collins said, he loved learning history and science.

"I've always been a social studies guy. Social studies and science," he said.


Science teacher Phil Lewis said Collins was always a respectful student on top of his academics. Lewis taught Collins his senior year in chemistry.

Collins took every opportunity to better his grades, Lewis said, and helped other students when they needed it. He was always there to lend a hand, he added.

"He was definitely hard working," Lewis said. "He was pretty self-motivated."

This motivation and drive to do better will help Collins with his future goals of heading into the military, Lewis said.

"He would definitely be a great attribute to our country and the armed services," he added.

Collins will keep on moving post-grad — he said he plans to go into the Army and hopes to get into logistics. He has an older sister in the service, something he said inspired him to join as well.

Collins isn't sure where he'll be yet, but is hoping to spend four to eight years in the service before coming back to civilian life.

"I really want to see the world for free," he said, laughing. But, he added, he hopes his time in the military will be a "great experience" that helps him get ahead in life.


Manchester Valley graduation statistics

•How many graduating: 335

•How many going to four-year college: 40 percent

•How many going to two-year college: 32 percent

•How many going to a trade school: 2 percent

•How many are going into the military: 3 percent

•How many are joining the work force: 10 percent