Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Congratulations to the top students of the class of 2012

Congratulations to Amanda Iannone-Judge and Alysa Chartrand, who, I am proud to announce, have been named the Class of 2012 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Soon after Amanda and Alysa were told of their accomplishment, I took the opportunity to sit down with both girls to personally congratulate them and to hear their reflections on what have been four extremely busy years at Watervliet High School.

In talking with these top students, a common theme ran through our conversations. While their records make it clear that they have taken advantage of many extracurricular activities, sports, employment opportunities and more, they spoke primarily about the teachers who made a difference in their lives.

Alysa credits her math teacher, Mr. Berin, for her interest in pursuing math as her college major. Although she’s eyeing a future as a math teacher, Alysa says her favorite class at Watervliet was social studies. She says Mr. Emerson brought “something to the classroom that just makes you want to go to his class.”

For Amanda, Mr. Parisi made physics enjoyable and Mr. Dievendorf taught her to think for herself. In Spanish class, she says, Ms. DiSalvo taught her more than a language.

Studies show us that good teachers matter most in a child’s education and speaking with Amanda and Alysa made it easy to understand why.

I asked the girls what advice they had to offer younger students.

Amanda, despite her impressive list of activities, said she would have gotten involved earlier in extracurricular activities.

“Don’t take it for granted. It goes a lot quicker than you might expect. And try to have a little bit of fun along the way,” she said.

Alysa agrees with Amanda in encouraging students to engage in extracurricular activities.

“I think it’s really important. It just keeps you going,” she says.

Congratulations again to Amanda and Alysa and to all the graduates of the Class of 2012. The Class of 2012 Commencement is set for Friday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Watervliet High School Harry Tucker Gymnasium.  

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