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High school valedictorians overcome challenges to be top of class

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 3:58 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - In a school year full of online learning, social distancing and mandatory mask wearing, some north country scholars continued to shine. We sat down with some local valedictorians to learn more about what kept them going through all the adversity.

“That was my one goal was to get valedictorian and when I got it, was the best feeling ever,” said Copenhagen Central School senior Peyton Walker.

She says she has wanted this honor for as long as she can remember. But, she says the past year was tough.

“I need, like, that structure in my life and I need to talk to my teachers one-on-one and I could not do that in a lot of cases,” she said.

Peyton isn’t alone. Other high achievers say attaining that number 1 rank was difficult.

“I don’t have a good attention span so doing classes online was kind of hard, but I just stuck with it,” said LaFargeville Central School valedictorian Josie Barton.

She did stick with it, finishing at the top of her class while also taking courses at Jefferson Community College. She says her determination made it all possible.

“There’s always going to be some problem, but you can always, like, get over that hump if you just put your head down and keep fighting through it. You’ll be fine,” she said.

In a larger district like Watertown, there is more competition for the top spot. Valedictorian Analee Lanphair says that made for added stress.

“It’s always in the back of mind, like, okay, I need to kind of like keep this up, like, now it became a goal - I want to stay valedictorian. So, it was a little stressful,” she said.

Lanphair says staying focused and asking for help got her though those challenges. When it comes to achieving success in anything, she says a positive mindset helps.

“Whatever you decide to give your best to, just go all out and just be happy and confident in yourself so that you can lift those around you as well as lift yourself up,” she said.

All three are hoping for a normal college experience this fall and they’re all staying close, going to school in New York state.

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