Somers High School grads look back to freshman year as they begin a new chapter

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Thu., Jun. 20, 2013
Nicole Gay, valedictorian, appreciates her family's contribution to her success. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Graduation is an exciting time, but also a time for reflection on the years leading up to the final days of high school. The Somers High School Class of 2013 elaborated on that nostalgic concept as they chose the theme of “Looking Back” for the yearbook and class banquets.

The yearbook staff decided to include a small picture of each student from freshman year and place it next to his or her senior picture.

“It's always interesting to see how people change and grow, especially in high school,” said valedictorian Nicole Gay.

Most of the approximately 130 students have attended school together since kindergarten, which was comforting in high school because they didn't have to worry about going into a class and not knowing anyone. Growing up in a small community, most of the class members knew each other on a first-name basis, but this year the class created a bond unlike previous years, said Gay.

The seniors came together this past year as they made the senior float in the fall, which was themed “Twenty-One-Three Under the Sea.” The class also celebrated spirit night as “Senior Survivors” wearing togas, a senior tradition.

Gay believes part of the cohesiveness also came from the banquet and senior outing to Boston's Quincy Market and a Red Sox game. The events gave the class an opportunity to spend time together as a group.

Gay has held the highest GPA in her class since seventh grade, which is why she said it wasn't much of a surprise for her to receive the honor of valedictorian. She said studying and school work required a lot of effort on her part, and she was happy to receive the recognition.

As she prepared her speech for graduation, Gay expressed the message she wanted people to gain from her words.

“It's an appreciation for the people who have come before us and realizing we could not be where we are without our family, people who raised us, and we can't take our position for granted,” said Gay.

Gay recalled two generations ago when education, goals and life in general was much different for her family. This was one reason she continued to work hard and came to realize how fortunate she has been, especially in regards to her current position in life.
“So, I take advantage of the fact that I can go to public schools and I am not discouraged from continuing my education to come home and work on the farm,” said Gay.

One of her best memories has been working on the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” musical’s set committee this past year. Gay described herself as a behind-the-scenes person who loves art.

This was the most challenging set of the four plays Gay worked on, she said, partly because of the small number of people on the committee. Even so, she enjoyed working with the group and friends from the junior class. A lot of work and time was invested in the sets and it was a bonus the group worked well together, said Gay.

“I am definitely glad that was one of my last experiences of high school, because it ended on such a positive note,” said Gay. “I will definitely carry that with me.”

She has committed to attending the University of Connecticut in the fall as part of the honors program studying biomedical engineering. Gay plans to complete a five-year bachelor/master program.

“They [family] have given us the platform to do whatever is in our reach,” said Gay. “Take advantage of what's given to us and go from there.”

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