Student involvement makes a difference at Manchester High

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Jun. 24, 2011
Samantha Gates is the valedictorian of the Manchester High School Class of 2011. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Samantha Gates is the valedictorian of the Manchester High School Class of 2011. Photos by Martha Marteney.

For Samantha Gates, Manchester High School’s Class of 2011 valedictorian, Math Team was one of the things she most enjoyed about high school. “I’ve always been very math-science oriented,” said Gates. “Our math team has made it to states consistently.”

“I’ve always put academics first,” added Gates, recognizing that she could not participate in everything. She knew it was important to find the things she enjoyed most and be 100-percent involved in those things.

Gates has also been involved with the Activities Planning Board, which is responsible for organizing social events, school fundraisers and first-day programs for freshmen. “It kept me social,” she said.

Gates and fellow senior Sarah Cinquemani initiated a student petition in response to changes made to the school's mid-term exam schedule. “That was the first student activism we’d seen in years,” said Gates. “I’d like to see more student initiatives.” More than half the student body signed the petition in just one day. “We found a real following because it affected their education and performance.”

Being named valedictorian, Gates said, “It means all the hard work has paid off. It’s an honor and I’m very proud.” Next year, she will be studying engineering at Brown University.

“I’ve been involved in leadership a really long time,” said Manchester High School Class of 2011 President Megan Sargent. “I really wanted to be involved, especially in high school, to eliminate the boundaries that keep students from participating.” One way in which Sargent encouraged more student involvement was through votes during school assemblies for class events, such as the theme for the prom or homecoming. “It’s supposed to be the best part of our lives,” she said about high school senior year.

“One of the things with our class is we are the first class to graduate that went through the Freshmen Center,” noted Sargent. She found having the separate space for freshmen made the transition easier. “I think it was a good experience,” she said.

Sargent did not feel that the fights that brought police to the school in December characterize the class, adding, “I think it made us stronger.” Sargent felt that it made the students want to highlight the positive elements at the school. She also credited the teachers for keeping the students focused.

Sargent will be studying elementary education through the honors program at Eastern Connecticut State University. “I want to use my leadership abilities in the Christian fellowship group,” she said, “and maybe try writing for the newspaper.”

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