You may remember the alto sax soloist who frequented the stage at Big Blue Crew concerts. It is possible you remember him for his bowties. The musically talented, snazzy dressing, 2015 QHS graduate’s name is Renaldo Hopkins.
“The second,” he says and smiles. His Dad was the first. A 1988 QHS graduate, the first Renaldo, was president of the Band Boosters and always encouraged his third and last son to be himself. Now the youngest Hopkins is at home, enjoying his summer break, sleeping late and visiting the school where so many are smiling and shaking his hand.
Hopkins is not wearing his bowties to class at East Mississippi Community College. He explains that it was his stand against the QSD Uniform Policy which inspired the wardrobe in high school.
“Now they no longer have a uniform policy. I can’t believe it happened after I left. It was my junior year when I started wearing a bowtie every Friday. I wanted to get out of the uniform but in a controlled way. Around that time I got out of the mainstream. I didn’t like what the culture was for my generation. I am more into the hip hop generation, and I think the south gets a bad reputation. I knew I had to wear something nobody from here would wear so every Friday I would put on a dress shirt, dress slacks, dress shoes and a bowtie. When I started doing it, I was constantly getting clowned on, but each time I did it people were respecting it more and more. They recognized I was the only one here doing it. I was getting more and more respect from teachers. They told me that I was showing everyone else that individuality is key.”
Hopkins is enjoying his visit to his alma mater but is looking forward to his second year in college.
“I went to school on band and academic scholarships, and I really like the atmosphere at EMCC. Football games are a big deal, and last year we were filmed for an upcoming Netflix documentary. It’s exciting to go to a place where you know almost no one. It’s where you meet new people and discover a new environment. There’s a great energy in college.
Just like in high school the teachers are really teaching me something about life. It’s important to take advantage of opportunities. I take classes that challenge me. I know that whatever I do is going to make a lasting impression, and my name is important to me.”
It is possible that you will hear the name Renaldo Hopkins II again. He was one of the first students in the 21st Century Broadcasting after school program, and he is now pursuing a degree in journalism.
“The ultimate goal is branding my own name. I see myself working for ESPN, but that’s only going to be a part of me going even further. I see myself as an analyst, an insider. I’ll have my own show, start my own company. The company will have everything to do with media. Music, news, sports, movies, television. I want to work on things that are relevant, things that people should be talking about, but they don’t.”
Today Hopkins takes a break and sits with Technology Specialist Matt Champion on the set of Panther Studios. It’s the set he first saw on a field trip with the broadcasting class to Mississippi State University. Champion explains how MSU donated it to Quitman High School, and Hopkins again smiles.
“It all happened after I left. First the set; then the dress code. It’s great for the students that are still here. I tell them, ‘Stay focused.'”