• Senior Spotlight: Ralph Philips, Fuquay-Varina High School

    bengal mascot


    They call him “Mr. Fuquay.”


    Ralph Philips, a senior at Fuquay-Varina High School, embodies the Bengal spirit of his town and his school with his infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude. 


    “Almost everyone I know refers to me as ‘Mr. Fuquay,’” he says. “People joke that I can run for Mayor now that I am 18 - and I’d win.”


    Born in New York, Ralph moved to North Carolina when he was one and has lived in Fuquay-Varina since 2015. Ralph considers Fuquay-Varina home – appreciating its small-town feel and welcoming and supportive community. 


    School staff and his peers recognize him for his ability to bring people together, spread positivity, and give his all in everything he does.


    Fuquay-Varina Principal Robert James says: “Ralph is Mr. Fuquay! I'm so proud of him for all that he's done and contributed to the legacy of our school. He is the definition of living a great high school experience for all that he's been a part of. He's never been afraid to take advantage of all of the opportunities available for high school students. He's done well in the classroom, he's been part of Student Government, he's been in various musicals and plays, he's been a member of our football and baseball teams, and of course, he's been Benny the Bengal. I will forever remember him for all he's done to make our school a great place.”


  • ‘An absolute blast’


    Reflecting on his high school experience, Ralph shared his challenges with online learning during the pandemic. For a social person like Ralph, not being able to see his peers was difficult. Once students returned to in-person learning, Ralph was overjoyed. He loved being physically back in a school building and interacting with his peers and school staff. During his sophomore year, Fuquay-Varina High’s new campus was ready, so students began classes in a brand new building. He made it a goal to do everything he wanted to do in his last two years of high school. “The last two years have been an absolute blast,” he says. Even if he didn’t succeed in what he wanted to do, Ralph still appreciated that he got the opportunity to try it.


    Ralph’s high school involvement is impressive. He's a member of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, and the International Thespian Society. He was also the treasurer for the student council, played on the football team, prom king, and was the baseball team’s manager. He also proudly serves as the school’s mascot, Benny the Bengal.  


    His skills learned from theater classes helped him be successful as the team’s mascot. “What I love about it is that it’s like pantomime acting,” he says. Ralph would use the Bengal’s tail as an electric guitar and loved throwing T-shirts out to the crowd during halftime. When he’s not at a football game, volunteering, or at practice, Ralph works at Cracker Barrel and is part of the Explorer Post 50 internship with the Durham Bulls. This television broadcasting program provides students with hands-on experiences to explore a television career. 


    “Ralph is so well known on our campus by students and teachers alike because he takes time to get to know people,” says Michelle Montgomery, school counselor at Fuquay-Varina High. “He's always greeting other students in the hallway and asking teachers and staff how they are doing. He genuinely cares about other people and takes time to make others feel seen. His spirit and zest for life are perfectly portrayed through being our school mascot.”

    ralph philips


    On stage

    Ralph loves both theater and football. His passion for theater, inspired by a love for classic musicals, started at a young age while watching Turner Classic Movies with his grandfather. “One thing I always say about theater is that it will always make you feel some sort of way,” Ralph says. “Whether it be bliss, joy, regret, fear, or anger, you’re always going to have an opinion and that’s what I love about theater.” 


    Because of football commitments in the fall, Ralph wasn’t able to act in the school’s fall show, Sherlock Holmes, but he still participated by being the front-of-house manager. He acted in The Wizard of Oz as the Winkie General and in The Sound of Music as Franz the butler. Of the latter experience, Ralph says: “It was so cool to work with people who care about you and you care about them and just feel that love and emotion, because we all poured everything into it. We all gave everything we could.”


    ‘Truly special’


    As the football team’s backup quarterback for two years, he enjoyed the relationships he formed during practices and games. One of his favorite parts of football was the community’s dedication to supporting the team, especially the home-cooked meals prepared by parents and the Fuquay-Varina Baptist Church.


    While he hasn’t decided on a college yet, Ralph has been accepted to eight colleges. His goal is to double major in communications and musical theater, blending his passions for acting and sports broadcasting. His English teacher, Kelly Prestipino, says: "While his resume is impressive, it can't show you his spirit, which is what makes Ralph truly special. His determination and grit will lead to success, and one day, in his future career as a sports journalist, he will get to write and speak about other people's journeys.”


    As he prepares to head off to college, Ralph says he will always be a Bengal at heart. “To be honest,” he says, “there is no place I’d rather be than Fuquay-Varina High School.”


Accepted into 8 schools:

  • Appalachian University
  • Campbell University
  • Western Carolina University
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Alabama
  • West Virginia University
  • Michigan State University
  • Western Michigan University