By: Connor VanDerMark and Camille Gottholm
Apex High School has produced thousands of alumni, from Olympic medalists to teachers to professional athletes, but one of the most notable alumnus remains in our own backyard. Mayor Jacques Gilbert graduated from AHS in the Class of ‘87. He is the epitome of what Apex stands for: kindness, hard work, and a strong sense of community. Not only did he do all of his schooling in Apex, he protected and served the area for over 29 years as a member of the Apex Police Department. Clearly, he is no stranger to our wondrous town.
Growing up on 600 1st Street, Mayor Gilbert spoke about being raised in a completely different Apex than what it’s like today. At the time, it was a small town with a population of about 3,000 people. He attended Baucom Elementary, Apex Elementary, Apex Middle, and Apex High. Living in a predominately black community, he recalled the drugs and violence that plagued the streets throughout his childhood. He emphasized how his mother kept him out of trouble; he then carried those principles to Apex High, where he became the School Resource Officer (SRO). “Being able to go back and be part of the environment where I was as a student and protecting was a rewarding experience,” he said.
Clearly, Apex High has drastically changed since Mayor Gilbert’s days as the SRO. A completely new building was constructed and finished in 2019. He stressed the importance of a quality school, stating, “If the structure isn’t good, it’s hard to consume information.” While this was a drastic change, one thing was kept: the courtyard. He stated how excited he was that the courtyard was preserved, because it was his favorite part of the school.
Mayor Gilbert continues to serve his community from the highest position in town. Elected in 2019, he has served for a total of almost three years. When asked for a piece of advice for students, he responded with “Every challenging experience is not a bad experience, it’s an opportunity. Find a way to take that challenge and turn it into something positive.” As students, we should all take this message to heart. Mayor Gilbert grew up with drugs and violence around him, but he turned it into a positive by becoming the mayor of the very town he grew up in.