Noah Graybeal Chosen as the 2021 Community First Award Honoree for Student Leadership

Noah Graybeal, 2021 Community First Award Honoree for Student Leadership

Noah Graybeal Chosen as the 2021 Community First Award Honoree for Student Leadership

Napierra Alexander
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 12:00 AM
Students, All, Events, Community

CLEVELAND. Tenn. - In the midst of the pandemic, we heard medical professional opinions and trusted local leaders to help guide us through such an unprecedented time, but a McMinn County teenager showed us that no matter the age, anyone can bring new and innovative ideas to aid the community. Noah Graybeal engineered a protective mask to help his community avoid the virus as much as possible, and for that Cleveland State Community College has chosen him as the 2021 Community First Award honoree for Student Leadership. 

Noah Graybeal is a student at McMinn County High School and has been competitive in the STEM Fair program at his school for the past two years. His teachers and coaches see his dedication to science and believes his innovative ideas will take him far. 

Noah has been very active in our STEM Fair program,” stated Cindy Moses, Instructional Coach/STEM Fair Coordinator at McMinn County High School. “This year, however, the pandemic caused our regular competitions at the school and district levels to be cancelled.  Noah persisted with his research, and was selected to present his research at the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.”

For this competition, he used his research and engineering skills to devise masks, carbon filters, and custom sealing mask fittings. His research began in the pre-COVID era, but quickly gained relevance as the pandemic progressed. 

“When I began this project in October of 2019, Coronavirus was not something of which the general public was aware,” stated Graybeal.  “My original objective was to help my brother, who has Cystic Fibrosis, to prevent respiratory infection. But as the pandemic developed, my project became directly applicable to the public health crisis that the world was experiencing. This gave me and my work even more value. Knowing that the research that I was doing had the potential to help save lives kept me focused during times that were hard for everybody.”

Graybeal was the only student from his school to continue his research at this level this year. He was one of 14 students from across the state to be selected to present at the symposium. The custom mask he created was the only engineering project to be selected. While students started to learn from home, Graybeal took that as an opportunity to focus more on his project. 

“Not many high school students get an opportunity to focus on a project like that, so I made sure that I took full advantage of my situation. I tried my best to see the pandemic as an opportunity to focus, and I believe that I became a better student and potential scientist as a result,” Graybeal explained.

As a teen, Graybeal shows us that a great mind doesn’t come with age, but with a vision and hard work ethic. When he’s not focusing on school work, he plays on the Varsity Golf and Soccer Teams. He’s involved in the Mu Alpha Theta National Honor Society and Big Kids Do Science program. He also volunteers for Let’s Read 20, a local non-profit organization dedicated to improving children’s literacy skills in McMinn County.

Graybeal was honored at the Community First Awards Gala hosted by Cleveland State Community College Tuesday evening at the Barn at Faith Farms in Athens, TN. 

For more information on Cleveland State Community College, visit the website or email If you are interested in applying,visit Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCCmain campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens, Tennesseeand Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.

CSCC earned the Tennessee Board of Regent’s 2019 College of The Year. CSCC directly servesBradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System ofTennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 140,000 students.


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