Submitted by Allen Leonard
Introducing the Class of 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian
Surviving high school may seem like an amazing feat for those who fought to keep their heads above the surface when they were drowning in work. What is it like to not only fight the good fight but to come out academically victorious?
“I felt accomplished when I found out that I was named valedictorian,” senior Josh Tysor said. “I ordered a transcript for a scholarship I was applying for, and my class rank was listed as one on the transcript, but I found out officially from Mr. Leonard and my counselor.”
The reward for maintaining superior grades includes both a sense of self-accomplishment and public recognition. Tysor will prepare and deliver his valedictory at the Mill’s Class of 2017 graduation ceremony on May 26. Preceding his speech will be senior Aubrey Bennett’s salutatory.
“I was shocked and excited because after first semester I had no idea of what ranking I would end up,” Bennett said. “My main academic goal stayed the same throughout high school: to maintain good academic standing while challenging myself with my classes.”
Class rankings are calculated at the end of each semester and are based on students’ cumulative GPAs. Oftentimes, these GPAs can be separated by merely tenths of a point, leading to constant shifts within the ranking list for a grade level. Tysor, however, has maintained his first-place spot since first semester freshman year.
“I know a lot of people who are a few years older than me who did not make good grades during the first semester of their freshman year,” he said. “This caused their GPAs to suffer throughout high school, and they were never able to make up completely for what they had lost. This motivated me to try extra hard to start off with the first place class rank because I knew it would be much easier to maintain that rank rather than to surpass others.”
It comes as no surprise that achieving high grades can pose challenges during one’s academic career. With a variety of subjects, courses, teachers, and assignments available at the Mill, students constantly face new academic obstacles. Tysor and Bennett have successfully managed to face these tribulations head-on.
“I maintained such high grades by treating every assignment like it was a test grade,” Bennett said. Tysor explained that his main motivation “came from the importance of education as stressed by all the teachers and adults that I have ever interacted with,” he said. “I’ve always felt that doing my best in school will pay off down the road.”
While academics are highly important for both students, each is committed to various extracurricular activities. Tysor serves as co-captain for cross country in addition to running track and field with the Mill. A few of the clubs and organizations that he is involved in include National Spanish Honors Society, Varsity Math Team, Academic Team and Beta Club. Bennett used to ride horseback and dance. She serves as president of National Honors Society and is a part of Science Olympiad along with Speech and Debate.
“I was able to balance schoolwork, sports, other activities, and sleep fairly well throughout high school,” Tysor said.
Despite the vast difference in their interests and involvements, both can reminisce and agree on one thing: sophomore year was the most challenging.
“I felt that 10th grade year was the hardest for me because of the amount of homework I had on a daily basis,” Bennett said. Tysor also agrees that his sophomore year of high school provided its fair share of challenges. “Tenth grade was definitely the hardest for me because I had to adjust to the seven-period day,” he said. “ I also took my first two AP classes that year along with gifted chemistry and accelerated math. The material wasn’t any harder than 11th or 12th grade, but most of the difficulty of that school year came from all the adjustments.”
Bennett provides a bit of insight and hope for any underclassmen who have doubts or fears about their high school academic careers. “Advice I would give to underclassmen is to not be afraid to take a couple of breaks a night while doing your homework,” she said. “Often I have found myself trying to go straight through my homework and not taking any breaks, then realizing later that I have taken longer than I would have with breaks. No one can keep their concentration up at peak level over a long period of time, so breaks allow you to not become overwhelmed with work.”
Both the Class of 2017’s valedictorian and salutatorian have accumulated their fair share of accomplishments and achievements while at the Mill, but the road to success does not end here. Bennett committed to Purdue for her undergraduate education and plans to pursue geophysics and planetary science. Tysor will be attending Georgia Tech in the fall.
“I plan on obtaining an internship at an engineering company during my sophomore or junior year to obtain work experience in my field of study during college,” he said.