Top 10 graduates praised for hard work, urged to embrace role as leaders

Photos by Tom Rivers: These four are all graduating as valedictorians for their high school classes. They include, from left: Jessica Smith of Lyndonville, Nicole Waild of Medina, Elizabeth Rath of Kendall and Anna Brasted of Holley.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 June 2017 at 9:16 am

LYNDONVILLE – The Top 10 graduates at Holley, Kendall and Lyndonville and Medina were celebrated during the 31st annual Orleans County Academic Excellence Awards Dinner on Tuesday at the White Birch Golf Course.

The graduates received medallions for reaching the top 10 in their class.

They were addressed by Scott Brooks, a 2006 Holley graduate. Brooks graduated in the top 10 of his class at Holley. He works as the Program Director for KISS 106.7 and Sunny 102.3 and can be heard every afternoon on KISS. Scott is also the Digital Program Director and Social Media Manager for all 7 iHeartMedia radio stations in Rochester.

Scott Brooks, left, and Bob D’Angelo, superintendent of Holley Central School, are pictured at the Academic Excellence Awards Dinner on Tuesday in Lyndonville for the Top 10 graduates at Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina.

Outside of his radio career, he is the announcer for the Rochester Knighthawks at the Blue Cross Arena. During his time at Holley, Scott played baseball, basketball, and was a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council.

“They’re not just the Top 10 graduates, but they are the Top 10 leaders,” Brooks said in an interview before the awards dinner. “They’ve been the role models to the other hundreds of kids in their school.”

The Top 10 push the other students to try harder in the classroom, raising the level of academics for their schools, Brooks said.

He urged them to keep striving, and find a career they love.

“Go for it,” Brooks said is his advice. “Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

The Top 10 students typically juggle many extracurricular activities, in addition to mastering their coursework.

Lizzie Rath is Kendall’s valedictorian. She plans to major in biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester. She has been a three-sport athlete for Kendall, often doing her homework late at night after getting home from a game.

She said balance in all of the activities and time management are needed to maintain high grades while being busy with school activities.

“It’s pretty difficult,” she said. “It’s a lot of late nights.”

She said her classmates, especially James Longrod and Salutatorian Chelsea Wright, all pushed each other to do well in school.

Jessica Smith, Lyndonville’s valedictorian, is headed to Rochester Institute of Technology to major in film animation. She has been active in the school musicals, chorus, band and technology club.

She said she tried to turn in her assignments on time even when the work wasn’t perfect.

“You need to get your work on time and not stress over any one thing at a time,” she said.

Smith said the Top 10 had a friendly rivalry, and pushed each other to excel and take tough classes.

“We all encourage each other to do our best and take AP classes and extracurricular activities,” she said. “We try to do as much as we can and keep busy.”

Nicole Waild, the Medina valedictorian, is headed to Nazareth in Rochester to major in biochemistry. She was in Medina’s marching band and other school activities.

“Stay focused and don’t get too distracted,” was her advice for keeping the grades high and being active in school.

She also stayed off Facebook and Twitter, trying to keep her social media to a minimum.

Anna Brasted, Holley’s valedictorian, will be an art major at SUNY Cortland. She has been active at Holley on the softball team, as editor of the yearbook, president of Spanish Club and other activities.

She said time management is the key to getting it all done.

She also was thankful for the chance to attend two foreign trips at Holley. She went to France and Italy on one trip, and Spain on another.

“Take advantage of the opportunities at school,” she said.

Bruce Landis, right, takes a photo of the Top 10 graduates at Holley. The Academic Excellence Awards Dinner was held at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Here are the Top 10 at the four school districts. (Albion has its own convocation awards dinner.)

Holley: Christopher Balys, Brooklyn Bartholomew, Jesse Beach, Anna Brasted, Claudia Drechsel, Megan Fribance, Megan Hatfield, Corinne Johnson, Veronica Mendoza and Diana Yaroshchuk.

Kendall: Eliya Cooper, James Longrod, Jenna LoSapio, Emily Mattle, Alexis Payton, Kenneth Price, Elizabeth Rath, Ruth Seabolt, Richard Wolf II, and Chelsea Wright.

Lyndonville: Natalie Allen, Sierra Blanar, Thomas Bummer, Jacob Hoffee, Brooke Kiefer, Aubrey Lewis, Kelsi Nice, Brianna Paniccia, Ciarra Silversmith and Jessica Smith.

Medina: Kathryn Bilicki, Nicholas Bogan, Aeddon Cayea, Jadiel Flores-Medina, Martha Gardner, Abigail Griffin, Madison Holland, Morgan Roach, Kristian Snyder and Nicole Waild.

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