By: Rose McDermott
The valedictorian for AHS was announced on May 15 during Awards Night. Brandon Clark with a GPA of 102.29 was the top student in the class of 2014. He explains how he achieved this goal and how he feels about it.
Question: How did you feel when your name was called at Awards Night?
Answer: I was speechless. I finally saw everything I had worked at culminate in that one moment. Of course, I didn’t work to obtain that award, but it did make me feel like my work was appreciated.
Q: What kind of sacrifices have you made to achieve this goal?
A: I have sacrificed countless hours studying and finishing the loads of work that my class schedule required while my friends were texting me to hang out. I also sacrificed quite a bit of pride, realizing that sometimes I can’t do everything that I want and still get work done. I definitely learned to prioritize.
Q: How do you handle the stress of schoolwork?
A: I always tried to focus on the good side of school work, the sense of liberation I feel from learning new and interesting topics. As for the grades that follow, I just tried to trust that as long as I utilize my passion, the grades will take care if themselves, and I could be satisfied with the result. Also, sports and music were great outlets to let off steam and get away from it all for some precious moments.
Q: What is your routine to balance all your extra-curricular activities?
A: Planning, planning, and more planning. I always have to be prepared to know which hours I have available for school work amongst my extracurriculars. I also have to make sure enough down time is available to ensure I don’t go crazy. Above all, however, the true source of success with handling everything is having motivation and the mental toughness to stick with that motivation.
Q: What are your extra-curricular activities?
A: I play varsity football, baseball, and basketball. I also am a student advisory council representative for the school committee and a representative for Congressman Kennedy’s youth advisory board. Finally, I played the drums for my church youth band and tutored night school students.
Q: Was this a goal you had in mind when you began high school?
A: My goal was simple in theory, yet complex in practice: to just find what I love to do and do the best that I can with those things.
Q: Do you feel that there is a certain way students can go to achieve this goal?
A: I think that each student has a certain skill set and assortment of passions within them. The only trick is to go out and search for them. The key is passion. I know I say that a lot, but cliches are only cliches because they are so true.
Q: How did your family help you achieve this title?
A: My family actually didn’t want me to go to AHS. I convinced them to let me go here instead of a private school because I wanted to experience a small piece of the real world before going to college. They trusted my judgement, and they have supported me with all of my further decisions. My parents were honestly the ones who instilled in me the confidence that I have in myself. They showed me that I’m important, that I matter in this world, and I will always remember that.
Q: Do you see yourself as a role model?
A: I honestly never tried to be a role model. I only see myself as a person who tries hard at what he loves and truly cares about the people around him. I don’t try to force myself on others, but if people learn something and grow from how I do things, then that makes me happier than any Valedictorian award I could receive.
Q: Who is your role model?
A: My role models are definitely my parents, surprise surprise. They don’t just teach me the value of hard work and determination. They live it out right in front of me. They have sacrificed so much to help me through my journey. Above all, their work inspires me to work for others instead of myself.
Q: Do you plan to be the top in your college?
A: Numbers are just numbers. I plan to attack college with the same focus and determination that has made me who I am. College isn’t the goal. College is a mere medium through which someone achieves their dreams.
Q: Was there a point where you felt that you wouldn’t be able to make the goal?
A: Yes, every day. That is the main reason why my focus deviated from the goal of Val and landed on my love for learning. As I said before, any superficial recognition is all for naught if the skills you garner are not used to benefit those around you.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I hope to see myself either in a humanitarian organization or my own company, working to help mitigate world hunger with new scientific ideas. I have accumulated a couple ideas that I want to study further in college.
Q: What is your career goal?
A: My goal is simple. I want to leave my mark in the niche planned out for me.