East Cobb senior salute: Josh Cook, Walton High School

Josh Cook, Walton High School Senior

Josh Cook said he exhaled a little after finishing up the last of his exams a week before what would have been his graduation from Walton High School.

Like others in the Class of 2020, he won’t be going through traditional commencement exercises due to public gathering restrictions because of COVID-19.

While he misses seeing his school friends, Cook admitted that a different learning and social environment he’s experienced the last couple months has had some benefits.

“I’m sort of an introvert,” Cook said. “It hasn’t affected me all that badly. I know I will miss going through graduation and special events that come with being a senior.

“But this feels kind of relaxed for me.”

Cook said since schools were closed for in-person instruction in mid-March, “I have more free time than when I was at school.”

That’s enabled him to pace himself better for the stretch run of his senior year.Josh Cook Walton High School Senior

During his four years at Walton, Cook spent a lot of time helping other students get accustomed to being at a big, high-achieving school.

When he arrived as a freshman, he admitted he couldn’t find his way around the sprawling original Walton classroom building. 

By the time Walton students moved into their new building in the fall of 2017, Cook was serving as a member of the Walton Ambassadors. 

They’re students who help freshmen get around, giving tours and helping make them comfortable. 

He also was worked in the Walton Counseling Office, earning a first-hour credit for his role assisting other students. 

A counselor wrote that Cook would often come in early to help students and families before the start of the school day, and during the second semester, he rearranged his scheduled to do the same thing.

“He has proven to be an asset to the counseling department,” the counselor wrote. “He is professional, fun, trustworthy and compassionate.”

Cook suffered a stroke at birth and he has impaired vision as a result that prevents him from driving. He said being a part of the Walton Drama Club and the Walton Chorus has helped “bring me out a bit.” 

The COVID-19 crisis also has kept him from a dining room host job he truly enjoys at the Chick-fil-A at East Lake. “I really love working there,” he said, hopeful he’ll be able to get back when the dining room reopens.

In the meantime, he’s been enjoying walking and hiking near his home off Paper Mill Road that’s close to the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, something he’s been doing for a number of years. 

And he’s staying in touch with former school friends at Sope Creek Elementary School and in Zoom meeting with other teens at the Buckhead Church, where he attends.

Cook has been accepted to Georgia Southern University, where he plans to major in hospitality management. A self-described “world’s biggest Disney World fan,” Cook said he isn’t sure how and when his college career will get underway, but he’s learning to take the virus-related disruptions in stride. 

“It’s disappointing, of course,” he said of the high school graduation postponement, which Cobb school district officials are hoping to have at a later time if possible.

“Some students are very upset that they didn’t get to have their prom and a normal graduation. 

“I’ll admit, in 50 years from now, when you talk with your grandchildren about your graduation, it’s going to be really strange to try to explain it.”

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