Severna Park High School And Broadneck High School Honor Valedictorian And Salutatorian
By Dylan Roche
After an intense four years of high school, Severna Park High Schools Class of 2012 named Olivia Goldberg valedictorian, and Rachel Popivchak and Michaela Cunningham co-salutatorians.
Goldberg and co-salutatorians Popivchak and Cunningham are glowing examples of hard work and perseverance. The three graduates have not only achieved academic success but have grown as leaders, athletes, volunteers and outstanding members of the community. Now enjoying their post-graduation summer vacations in a variety of ways, they will soon pursue dreams at college and beyond.
When she found out she was valedictorian, Goldberg said she was elated but surprised. I was also a little nervous to speak to 3,000 people, she said of anticipating her speech.
Throughout her high school years, Goldberg achieved prestigious distinctions, awards and honors, including the National Honors Society and AP Scholar Award. At the same time, she showed leadership in extracurricular activities by serving as president of the Model United Nations Club, vice president of the class of 2012, president of Global Concerns club, vice president of the French club and a member of the Math Team, SGA and DECA.
Although Goldberg originally planned to attend Williams College in Massachusetts, her plans recently changed when, during her graduation lunch, she received a phone call notifying her she had been admitted off the wait list to Harvard University. Talk about the best day ever! she exclaimed.
This summer, Goldberg is looking forward to spending a month in Rome while her father teaches a course at the Rome Institute of Liberal Arts. She and her mom plan to spend time exploring the city and enjoying all that Italys capital has to offer.
After the summer is over, she plans to take a gap year before joining the class of 2017 at Harvard. Right now, Im interested in studying psychology, she said. As far as a career, I really have no idea. Whatever I do, Id like to travel as much as possible.
Goldberg was followed in GPA by co-salutatorians Popivchak and Cunningham. I had seen my transcript a few weeks before we were told so I was expecting it, recalled Popivchak. However, I also knew that it was a really tight race! When I was told, I immediately felt proud of all my achievements and hard work.
As a member of the National Honors Society, Popivchaks achievements throughout high school included chairing two committees: recycling and Relay for Life. My best friends mom lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009 so both she and I have been avid team captains for Relay for Life since then, she said. We've managed to raise more than $6,000 for the American Cancer Society with our team, Kim's Krew 2, which is only composed of dedicated high schoolers.
This summer, Popivchak plans to once again participate in WoodsWork, Wood Churchs youth mission program. The WoodsWork team is traveling to North Carolina and building houses for needy families. I have been a WoodsWork participant for the last three years and its an incredibly rewarding experience, she said. It puts life into perspective and you really learn to appreciate what you have.
In the fall, Popivchak will attend Penn State and plans to major in business finance. She will also be a member of the prestigious Schreyer Honors Society.
Showing enthusiasm in academics and extracurricular activities alike, Popivchak said her hard work came willingly. My parents never pressured me to become salutatorian, she said. They just expected me to work as hard as I could and I ended up surprising myself!
Co-salutatorian Cunningham said she was surprised to learn of her status and echoed Goldbergs nervousness about speaking at graduation. Im definitely not a public speaker and I was terrified to give a speech in front of so many people, she recalled.
Cunningham was also a recipient of many awards and distinctions, including the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.
A member of the Severna Park YMCA national swim team, Cunningham dedicates summers to assistant coaching the Shipleys Choice swim team as well as volunteering at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center at Fort Meade. She is continuing both endeavors this summer before the end of July when she will attend the Long Course YMCA Nationals at Georgia Tech with the rest of the SPY National team.
Future plans for Cunningham include attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she hopes to study Biological Sciences and then pursue medical school. She constantly works to build her strengths by improving upon her weaknesses. As long as you prioritize and remember to do your work, success will come naturally, she said.
As far as advice to current high school students, Goldberg summarizes it best. Remember that at the heart of things, the purpose of school isnt to get the best grades or to achieve the highest rank, but to learn as much as possible, she said.
At the beginning of the school year, the 20 highest ranking students from Broadneck High Schools Class Of 2012 were called to an assembly in the auditorium to talk about academic prospects. By the end of the school year, Devin Gardella was awarded the title of class valedictorian, and Samantha Dean and Caroline Plott achieved co-salutatorian status.
Gardella was happy to find out about his valedictorian status, and gave credit to his teachers and parents, as well as a nod to the salutatorians. I was blessed with great teachers and two great parents to guide me early in my life, he said. The two salutatorians our class had this year were highly talented and extremely intelligent and deserve a lot of credit, he added.
While in high school, Gardella led a service group for the National Honors Society in a Cranes for Cancer project his friend started. Together, the team worked to build 1,000 cranes for kids in the hospital. The 1,000 cranes gift is part of an old Japanese legend, he explained. We use them to connect to the kids and try to brighten their days as best we can. I was lucky to help start that group.
Last summer, Gardella traveled to Uganda on a mission trip to build a regional center in Gulu for the United Methodist Church. Going to Uganda was by far the most rewarding experience I ever had, he said.
An athlete as well as a humanitarian, Gardella ran cross-country for three seasons, played recreational soccer and, in his junior year, ran his first marathon. So far this summer, he has enjoyed the chance to go sky-diving and white-water rafting.
Gardella will head to Williams College in Massachusetts this fall, although hes still not sure what he wants to pursue. I plan to use college as a springboard to propel my career and find what I love to do, he said.
The co-salutatorians of Broadnecks 2012 class also kept busy outside the classroom. Dean played three years of varsity soccer and was involved with the BHS orchestra throughout her four years. She was also a member of BHSs Chamber Orchestra Group. This summer, Dean will travel to Anaheim, California, to play in the Nationals for futsal, an indoor variant of soccer.
This fall, she will attend High Point University where she will play on the womens soccer team and compete in the Big South Conference. The accomplished soccer player plans to study chemistry and pre-med, and hopes to later pursue a masters and/or doctorate degree in medicine before eventually becoming a medical specialist or neurologist.
Academic success is entirely individual, Dean explained. What you put in is what you get out. When things get hard, just put your head down and push through it and dont ever accept failure.
Co-salutatorian Plott also kept busy through high school by participating in a variety of extracurricular activities. An active member of orchestra, she served as concertmaster of BHS Orchestra her senior year and played with the Greater Baltimore Youth Symphony Orchestra as well as the Side by Side BSO music program. She was a volunteer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and participated in an Earthwatch trip to an Ecuadorian cloud forest.
Recently, Plott visited Washington where she rafted and kayaked the Rogue River with her family and friends. She is planning a trip to southern Europe where she and her mom will visit Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. It has been a dream of mine for a long time, she said.
In the fall, Plott will attend Emory University in Georgia, where she has been accepted into the Emory Scholars program on a full scholarship. She also hopes to participate in a 3-2 joint biomedical engineering program between Emory and Georgia Tech. In this program at Emory, she plans to complete a B.S. in biology within three years. She then plans to complete a biomedical engineering degree in two years at Georgia Tech, using credits from Emory to expedite the process.
Plott believes passion helps drive success. To do well in high school, or life for that matter, you have to find something you love and are passionate about, she said. That way, all of the studying and work that you do will have a real purpose and be meaningful to you. Of course, in order to find out what appeals to you, you have to try a lot of new things and take some risks.
These three students have definitely taken many risks and have consequently proven themselves as examples of passion and success. Their drive and dedication is sure to take them far as they pursue their studies and interests in college and beyond.