Emily Porter and Sam Cary, G. Ray Bodley High School’s Class of 2020 co-valedictorians, have cherished an abundance of memories throughout their time as Fulton City School District students.
The duo said they were both ecstatic and humbled to share the title of the top students of their graduating class. While they earned the title, both students said they, alone, cannot take all the credit.
“It’s the fulfillment of a dream that I have been working hard toward for years,” Porter said. “Over the years, I have had so many great teachers and classmates who have worked with me and helped me in so many different ways; I wish I could share how much I am thankful for everyone who helped me get to where I am today!”
Cary echoed that sentiment, and said he is thrilled with all the support he has received. It has been proven, he said, hard work does in fact pay off. Although valedictorian is just a word, Cary said it also has come with the responsibility of leading his fellow graduates into the real world with a final send-off, a heartwarming speech.
His two biggest supports, he said, are his parents who have continuously supported and pushed him toward greatness. His teachers and coaches simply built him up from that foundation. Select coaches, Cary said, have aided in “making me the man I am today.”
While Porter also praised her parents and sister for being her “biggest cheerleaders,” advice-giver, de-stressor, helper of assignments and a shoulder to learn on, she credited her faith with guiding her to strength and success.
“I am most proud of my growth as a follower of Jesus Christ; My heart for service, desire for justice and passion for excellence are directly related to my faith in Jesus Christ,” she said. “I owe this blessing to God first.”
What also helped propel her to success, Porter said, was the helpfulness, compassion and guidance from her teachers. She credited Mr. Dorsey at Granby Elementary and both Mr. Nami and Mr. Morse at GRB with being top teachers she enjoyed learning from.
Cary said his favorite classes at GRB were Advanced Placement Chemistry with Mr. Morse and AP Biology with Mr. Mainville, both of whom “had their own unique way to pique the interest of every student in the class.” It was also Cary’s own commitment to academics that kept him on the path of persistence and perseverance. The amount of work it took to get where he is today, he said, has been indescribable. Effort, review, patience and consistency through late nights and early mornings nearly every day for the past four years of high school have “finally paid off.”
All of that, he said, coupled with participation in soccer, lacrosse and ski club helped him build friendships and turned high school into a more enjoyable experience. Porter said each of her late night study sessions and daily academic tasks were completed with pressure she also put on herself to succeed, but she, too, was able to become a well-rounded student through participation in Christian Club, Yearbook Club, flute playing in the pit orchestra for two GRB musicals, and participation in the New Vision Allied Health program her senior year.
In reflecting on his senior year, Cary said the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from suiting up “with the boys for my senior season of lacrosse.” While disappointed school buildings had been closed since March, both he and Porter understood the measure was for the health and safety of students and staff members throughout the school district. The senior year for all members of the GRB Class of 2020 has been challenging; Porter said the abrupt end to in-person celebratory times had been rough.
“Missing the senior dinner dance, the class trip, concert, and other activities has certainly been difficult,” she said. “Just the other day, I realized that I would never again see a hall full of students standing at their lockers, talking to friends and rushing to get to class. I would never have another opportunity to smile at teachers or wave as I passed by them in the hall. Some of my classmates I may never see again. You expect that to happen in June, but not in March. It has been hard not having closure to my senior year.”
Instead, she has left all GRB underclassmen with the advice that hard work will get you to where you need to be, but “it won’t be enough to maximize your potential.” To continue to reach success, Porter encouraged all current freshmen, sophomore and juniors to get rest to stay productive, ask questions, be involved in activities and dream big, all while enjoying the journey as an FCSD student.
Cary, meanwhile, said quitting cannot be an option. Pushing through the self-doubt will come with great reward and “separate you from the rest.” After graduation, Cary said he plans on getting a full-time job to save up money for college, and he will focus on workouts to prepare himself to play lacrosse at LeMoyne College. There, he will study biology.
Like Cary’s plans, Porter said she also will work to save money, but also focus on spending time with family before she ventures off to Houghton College in the fall, where she will double major in music and psychology. She also has plans to attend their London Honors Program.