At Voorheesville: Erickson is valedictorian; Brower, salutatorian

Stephanie Erickson

Stephanie Erickson

Derek Brower

Derek Brower​

VOORHEESVILLE – High achievement run in the family for the valedictorian and salutatorian of Clayton A. Bouton High School’s Class of 2018. Valedictorian Stephanie Erickson is the daughter of a doctor, and salutatorian Derek Brower is the second of his siblings to be honored at graduation; his sister, Jessica, had been the valedictorian of her graduating class.

Both Erickson and Brower are good at math, were involved in student government, and were leaders on their sports teams.  

With an average of 99.2 percent, Erickson will be attending Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, this fall; Brower, who graduated with an average of 98.2 percent, will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology and major in Software Engineering.

Voorheesville also factors in school activities and community service in selecting its valedictorian and salutatorian.

Erickson told The Enterprise that she hadn’t completely settled on a major, but chose Carnegie Mellon because of its math program, and said that she is thinking about majoring in “applied math, or math with a focus on economics or finance, or possibly computer science.”

At Voorheesville, her favorite subjects were math and science, and she was not able to narrow down a list of her favorite teachers.  

While she hasn’t chosen her career, Erickson said that one of the reasons she chose math was the number of avenues she could take: “Finance, or software engineering, or an actuary,” she said. “It gives me a lot of options.”

Outside of school, she said, she spent a lot of time swimming. This season, she was a co-captain for Guilderville swimming team.

In addition to swimming, Erickson was a co-captain of the track team this year. Her extracurricular activities were: National Honor Society, student government, Model United Nations, Science Olympiad, and Key Club. She was also honored with the Section 2 scholar-athlete award for both swimming and diving.

Inside the classroom, Erickson said, her favorite memories included the fall fling and winter wave from physics.  

“The fall fling,” she explained, “is where the students made a catapult or a trebuchet – some sort of flinging device, basically – and you fling a tennis ball across the field to see how far it goes.” Students also have to catch the ball, “so it is also accuracy based too,” she said.

For the winter wave, she said, students had to craft a boat using only cardboard and duct tape. The boat then had to be placed in the school’s pool and students had to paddle up and down the length of the pool – with paddles made of cardboard and duct tape.

She said of the transition from small-town Voorheesville to Pittsburgh, “It will be interesting, but I am excited. As long as I embrace it – and don’t fight it – it will be a good experience.”

Last thoughts about her time at Voorheesville? “One of the things that has always stood out,” she said, “when comparing it to other schools, is how well everyone knows each other and how trusting people are.” At larger schools, she said, when students leave their lockers unattended, things get stolen; Erickson hadn’t locked her own locker since freshman year, she said.

Brower said that one of the reasons he chose RIT was the cooperative program it offered. Instead of going to school for the traditional four years, Brower will go for five, and will spend full semesters at jobs in a field that he chooses. He said that the opportunity “to go and try your job before you finish school” is what “drew him in immediately.”

Physics and calculus were his favorite classes, he said. In his free time, he said, if he wasn’t hanging out with friends, he was playing video games on his computer, he said.

Brower was a member of the National Honor Society and student government while at Voorheesville, and was the winner of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute award for excellence in math and science coursework. In athletics, Brower was a co-captain of both the varsity track and cross-country teams, and had played varsity volleyball.

About his experience at Voorheesville, Brower said: “It’s been helpful. The education is excellent; it is something special, because the teachers really care. They are invested; and if you put the effort in, they will help you to the best of their ability – but you have to show initiative on your end.”

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