An Interview with the Valedictorian: Gabbi Battaglini Reflects on Her High School Experience. By Sam bartlett
Valedictorian comes from the latin word valedicere, meaning “to bid farewell”. Now, the role of valedictorian has evolved to mean so much more than giving the goodbye speech at graduation. It now represents hard work and is a monument to a student’s accomplishments. Gabriella Battaglini is the class of 2021’s valedictorian at the Durham School of the Arts. With excellent academic performance, the captain role in several school sports, and membership in several DSA clubs, Battaglini has earned the top academic spot. But like many other seniors in her class, Battaglini wil cherish her friends and memories made the most.To learn more about the valedictorian I interviewed Battaglini about her highschool experience. When asked what her biggest priority was throughout highschool, Battaglini said, “School has always been my first priority, but as I’ve gotten older and have had to make more tough decisions about scheduling my time it’s become more evident. I used to spend a lot more time with sports than I do now because I have harder classes that require more of my attention in time.”Battaglini mentioned having to make tough scheduling decisions and school is full of obstacles and challenges. “My biggest challenge at DSA has been balancing my time and commitments. DSA is a very academically rigorous school, which is reflected by the amount of homework we all receive, and finding the time to balance coursework requirements, sports, and other extracurriculares has been a challenge,” Battaglini continued. Each year of high school presents new opportunities and challenges, but some years are harder than others. “Junior year was the most challenging yet rewarding of my four years. It was the most challenging academically and, before the pandemic hit, it was the hardest year for me to find the time to do the things I wanted to. AP Chem contributed to a lot of the academic challenge, but I found a love for the subject which made the work more doable and, in a weird way, enjoyable,” Battaglini explained.Looking back through the years, Battaglini says she had a few regrets related to cramming her schedule, but in the end it is the friends and memories that she will cherish the most. Battaglini concluded with a piece of advice for those who are where she was only a few years ago, “ I would tell the younger me and other students the same cheesy thing that everyone else says: It’ll all work out in the end. One test grade that wasn’t where you wanted it to be, an injury in the middle of your sports season, and even a pandemic really will work themselves out with time.”
Salutatorian spotlight BY LAYLA NIBLOCK
Though this year's graduation will be different than years past, some normalcy can be found in the recognition of the valedictorian and salutatorian.The valedictorian and salutatorian are the two top ranked students in their class. Their high GPAs reflect the hard work they have put in throughout their high school career. While the achievement of either position is an honor at any school, it is extremely impressive at DSA, which has a reputation for rigorous academics and tough competition. Tahsin Rahman, this year’s salutatorian, not only overcame his heavy workload but also the challenges online learning presented to reach this top honor. Having the grades needed to be salutatorian is obviously a lot of work, so how does it feel for your hard work to have paid off!?Honestly, it feels great to have an achievement that honors the hard work I've done. It is a great honor to have that many high schoolers strive for, so being salutatorian gives me a sense of all the hard work I've done and things I have accomplished throughout high school. What do you think your biggest challenge was on your path to salutatorian?I think my biggest challenge on my pathway to salutatorian was probably my senior year. Learning in an online environment was very foreign and stressful for me, especially with the screens putting a strain on my eyes. I took on a heavy workload this year (6 APs and self-studying 1) expecting to be able to do all of it with all the free-time I had, but obviously the online environment can be stressful sometimes. That, added with college applications and being involved with quite a few clubs made senior year very stressful. Like many other people, I had very low motivation to do all my work throughout the year, and often struggled to complete every assignment on time. Nevertheless, I tried my hardest to get through it all, and at the end of it all, looks like I did get through it! What was your favorite part of high school/ DSA?My favorite part of high school was probably the community. Most people were very friendly and accepting throughout my 7 years at DSA, and it made the years pass by in a flash. Specifically, my friends and teachers gave me a lot of motivation and inspiration that made hard classes very bearable. For example, my favorite class in high school was AP Chemistry because even though it is one of the most rigorous courses at DSA, the students and teacher Ms. Hall were all very supportive of each other, which made the class very fun and bearable. What are your hopes for the future? For college and career plans, I have committed to Duke University and hope to major in either Chemistry or Biology on the pre-med track. I hope to go to medical school after and aspire to be a doctor. Do you have any advice for other students who hope to be successful in high school?My advice to other students who hope to be successful in high school is to attempt to reach as high as possible, because you won’t know your limits until you push yourself. Take rigorous classes, join lots of clubs, do sports, and try to challenge yourself as much as possible, and only then you will see what you are capable of. Any student can be salutatorian or valedictorian if they try, so don’t doubt yourself and strive for the greatest.
Mrs. Hall, Teacher of the Year BY EMILY PARKER
Another year comes around and it is time to award teacher of the year to an outstanding teacher who has helped better the school in so many ways. Julianne Hall, Chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher, won the Teacher of the Year award.. She was a big help with virtual learning not only helping her students to adjust but she also helped the staff at DSA get familiar with zoom. She was originally from Cincinnati, OH and got her teaching degree at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University for her MAT degree.¨After doing some tutoring at UNC and working with Breakthrough Cincinnati after my Junior year (similar to Student U), I knew that my passion for Chemistry was really a passion for helping others understand how chemistry works, and that teaching was the career for me,¨ Hall commented.At first Hall did not want to be a teacher when she first entered UNC, he wanted to major in Chemistry and forensics as a career after college¨I student taught Biology at DSA in the fall of my MAT year and just absolutely loved the students, the science department, and the culture of the school. DSA truly is a special place and I feel lucky every year that I get to keep being a part of our amazing family,¨ Hall stated.Hall's favorite subjects growing up were math and Chemistry. There is a lot of math in chemistry, so it combined her two favorite subjects.Also in addition to student teacher as DSA she also taught at Northern highschool during her MAT year.¨I have taught Chemistry every year, and AP Chemistry since my 2nd year in the classroom,¨ Hall added.Hall has been teaching at DSA for five years in addition to her student taught semester. She said that she did not know what she would do if she was not a teacher other than helping her husband with his business but she said it would be nowhere near as fun as teaching.¨My favorite thing about DSA is our school culture. We have students who are focused on learning and committed to their coursework, both academically and with their arts electives. I think this helps you all become more well-rounded students and find what you are truly passionate about! I love that students are willing to take risks and embrace challenges. It makes my job much more fun,¨ Hall asserted Hall said that she also really enjoys being able to go to various performances and games and get to know my students outside the classroom. There are so many opportunities to do that at DSA and I really appreciate that.¨Mrs. Hall 100% without a doubt deserves this award. I can’t think of a better teacher to receive this award, she truly goes above and beyond for her students,¨ Kyra McLean, Junior, concluded.¨My favorite part of teaching is the relationships that I get to build with students and colleagues each year. That’s what brings me back to the classroom. I get so much energy from being around you all and watching you learn and grow into mature young adults. I wouldn’t trade that for anything,¨ Hall asserted.