By NICOLE JACQUES
Bristol Central High School’s top students say prioritizing their studies and balancing their academic and social lives were key in their journey towards scholastic success.
Top members of their class since their freshman year of high school, Skylar Wright and Brittani Murphy have been named Bristol Central’s valedictorian and salutatorian of the class of 2014.
Wright said the official announcement provided feelings of relief and gratification for both students.
“It was exciting, and it was kind of relieving that everything that [we’ve] worked for up to that point [was] all coming together,” said Wright.
Wright is an active member of many groups at Bristol Central, including the Interact community service club, National Honor Society, Math Team, the cross country team, and the track team. While her extracurricular schedule remains rigorous, her academic schedule has also followed suit, having achieved a 4.88 GPA while enrolled in four Advanced Placement (AP) classes during her senior year.
Wright, who said that her favorite high school classes were AP Calculus and Latin, said her selection of classes have led to her passion for problem-solving and have engaged her interests in certain career paths.
“They fit with the way I think. [They’re] formulaic,” Wright said of her classes.
With encouragement from her physics teacher David Brewer, Wright will continue to engage her interests in critical thinking as a biology major at the University of Connecticut next fall.
“I want to be in a position to help people,” said Wright, adding that she plans to enroll in medical school after graduating with her biology degree from UConn.
Salutatorian Brittani Murphy, who said she always had a passion for math and business, was similarly inspired by her curricular and extracurricular involvement at Bristol Central.
Murphy is involved in a number of groups at the school, including FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), Student Council, National Honor Society, Math Team, Governance Council, and the state of Connecticut’s Student Advisory Council. Murphy has also maintained a 4.87 GPA while enrolled in three AP courses this year, including AP statistics, which is where she cites she gained in interest in pursing actuarial science at Bentley University next year.
“It made me realize how much I really like dealing with numbers,” said Murphy of the class.
Murphy is also no stranger to the business side of the major. Earning a perfect score on the National Financial Capability Challenge in 2012, first place on the 2012 National FBLA Personal Finance Exam, and second place on the 2013 Connecticut FBLA Economics Exam, Murphy said her former personal finance teacher and FBLA faculty advisor Laurie Roberge and her statistics teacher Kelly McCabe encouraged her interest in the field.
“Everyone was really helpful in their own way,” said Murphy of the Bristol Central faculty and staff. “Every teacher would go out of their way for you.”
Both Murphy and Wright said it is precisely that welcoming atmosphere that will make graduating difficult for them come June 19.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to leave the comfort of Central,” said Wright.
Murphy also has mixed feelings about graduation.
“I’m used to this place now. I’m used to the faces and teachers,” said Murphy, adding, however, that she is excited for the adventures she will meet at Bentley.
With graduation less than a month away, the valedictorian and salutatorian are getting ready to say goodbye to their classmates. The graduates said their classmates, in addition with friends and family, have been an important source of encouragement through their achievement.
“Working hard definitely comes first, but you would be miserable if you didn’t take time to yourself,” said Wright, explaining that time to hang out and gain support from friends was helpful to her success.
Murphy agreed that a healthy combination of socialization and schoolwork was beneficial.
“Balance is good,” said Murphy.
And for those underclassmen looking to achieve the same feat that have, Wright and Murphy leave a few pieces of advice.
“You have to be intrinsically motivated,” said Murphy. “It’s something you have to work for in every grade. Every quarter counts.”
Wright added time management and organization are also useful in achieving academic success.
Bristol Central’s graduation ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 19 at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium at 480 Wolcott St.