GRB names valedictorian, salutatorian


One hundred percent effort, all of the time.
 
That’s what G. Ray Bodley High School valedictorian Aryelle Barbagallo and salutatorian Megan Nicholson said earned them overall weighted grade point averages of 101.37 and 100.77, respectively. The pair said discipline, hard work, the drive to succeed and a healthy support system all contributed to them being named the top two Class of 2017 students.
 
For Aryelle, academic achievement was all about not going to bed unless homework was done.
 
“I work hard,” she said, as she admitted to even studying on the bus ride from GRB to her New Vision Allied Health classes at SUNY Oswego.
 
The balance of managing time wisely came with re-focusing herself every half an hour to make sure she stayed on track. It was the dedication to her studies, including FaceTiming her classes when she was out of school after a surgery, that allowed her to remain on top. Barbagallo, vice president of GRB’s National Honor Society, also is a community volunteer and an accomplished athlete with GRB’s girls’ varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams. She said GRB underclassmen can also strive to be at the top of their class; they just have to ask themselves how bad the want it and how far they’re willing to go their senior year without checking out.
 
“Life is good” is Barbagallo’s personal motto and those words dear to her heart, as they were often said by her Varsity Volleyball coach Caroline Richardson, who died in March 2015 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
 
Her favorite accomplishments as a GRB student include A “Ladies Who Lead” award from State sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, high honor roll, First team all league in volleyball, a representative of section III as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association essay scholar athlete winner, and several academic awards.
 
Barbagallo will attend Nazareth College’s doctor of physical therapy program where she will major in physical therapy and minor in psychology. Her post-secondary educational path will only take her five years instead of the typical six since she will graduate GRB with several college credits from GRB and New Vision classes.
 
Nicholson will graduate with over 40 college credits, many of which are a precursor to her advanced history post-secondary education. She will attend Colgate University, where she will double major in history and classical studies. Eventually, she will attend law school.
 
“I’m a perfectionist; I didn’t settle for anything less than the best,” she said. “I needed to put in that work so I’m where I am right now. You need to prepare yourself for all of the work.”
 
She studied until as late as midnight each night, reviewed flash cards with teammates on the lacrosse bus and always challenged herself to find answers. Nicholson encouraged GRB underclassmen to put themselves in the harder classes if they want increased academic achievement.
 
“Love what you do” is a personal motto which has carried Nicholson through her high school career. The self-proclaimed lover of learning is most proud of her Presidential Excellence awards received in both ninth-grade and tenth-grade. High honor roll status all throughout high school, as well as book and leadership awards also rank high in her accomplishments.
 
In between studying, Nicholson participated in varsity soccer and varsity track, served as President of the Class of 2017 and is a proud member of the National Honor Society, art club and GRB student senate. She also has spent much time volunteering throughout the Fulton City School District and community.
 
Nicholson said she couldn’t leave GRB without thanking English teacher Danielle Florio, whom helped Nicholson improve her writing and opened her mind. She also credited art teacher Jaclyn Tyler with making her life brighter each day.
 
Barbagallo, meanwhile, praised history teacher Jamie Ruzekowicz for helping her succeed through history classes, which have not been Barbagallo’s favorite. She also thanked math teacher Susan Ryan for always making her believe she could do anything, especially Advanced Placement Calculus.
 
Both Barbagallo and Nicholson will walk across the graduation stage June 24 at the Fulton War Memorial with the rest of the Class of 2017.