Isabella Ares and Nyah Lamarre Blanc.
Isabella Ares and Nyah Lamarre Blanc.

‘Speak out against injustice’

By Isabella Ares

Saratoga Central Catholic

Valedictorian 

The Class of 2020 is graduating during an unprecedented time in our world. This year has brought with it new challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our everyday lives. As graduating seniors, my classmates and I are starting a new chapter of our lives. We are unsure of but hopeful for the future. The world is rapidly changing and we are adapting as best as we can.

During this time of change, the issue of racial inequality has been brought to the forefront of the social consciousness with the killing of George Floyd. Our country has been plagued by systemic and individual racism since its beginning. As a Catholic, I have been taught to love my neighbor. This does not apply only to people who look like me, but to everyone. I am a young white woman who will never understand what it feels like to be discriminated against due to the color of my skin.

However, I feel that it is my responsibility to bring up this extremely important issue when given the opportunity. It must be the job of everyone with white privilege to listen, to educate ourselves and to speak out against injustice. We must work to fix the injustices against people of color in our country.

To my fellow graduates, as young people, we have the opportunity to change the world for our future. The choices we make from this time on will shape the future. We are the future. Our high school education has come to an end, but our educational journeys have not.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” As we start the next chapter of our lives, let us not forget to continue learning and to use our education for good. Congratulations everyone.

‘I beat the stereotypes’

By Nyah Lamarre Blanc 

Saratoga Central Catholic

Salutatorian 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost.

This quote perfectly describes what I felt as I was sitting in my guidance counselor’s office during my freshman year after we decided that skipping a grade was the best option for me. I sat in the room with my mom as she urged me to do it because she believed in me. I knew it was an unorthodox path to take but I also knew it was the right thing to do for myself. 

As I sit here writing this, I now know that I was correct. From that moment on, I was determined to accomplish my goal of graduating in three years no matter what it took. I was able to do it because of the help and support I got from many teachers, mentors and peers. They helped me to accomplish everything I needed to in order to achieve my goal. It was not the easiest road but I am extremely glad I did it. I know for a fact that my life would be very different and I am very happy with the path I am on now.

This experience has taught me so many things about life and myself that I never could have realized otherwise. One thing that I learned because of this journey is that no matter what others say about your choices, sticking to your goals is the only thing that you can do to prove them wrong. There were many people who were skeptical about my choice but I knew that once I graduated all of their words and opinions would be wrong. That decision definitely changed my whole life because I can tell people that I did something not many people do and am going to be attending one of my top schools.

I will be attending Howard University this fall as a political science major! As a proud black woman, I am glad to say that I beat the stereotypes. Every time a person I don’t know too well asks me about my grades, I can always see the surprise on their faces when I tell them that I am the salutatorian of my class and that I am completing high school in only three years. My mom is my biggest supporter and I am happy that she can be proud that I finally made it to my high school graduation. I am proud to have been able to prove that stereotypes and certain stigmas are simply wrong. I am proud to be something others don’t expect out of me. I am also extremely proud to have an opportunity like this.