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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 8, 2010

Top scholars at BKW are Galgay, Dancer, and Tubbs

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Members of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Class of 2010 are set to take their first steps into the real world, among them a future journalist, biochemist, and internationalist.

Valedictorian Michael Galgay has dreams of playing professional baseball and being a sportscaster on ESPN; co-salutatorian Gabrielle Tubbs hopes to do research that will one day cure diseases; and Julia Dancer, also co-salutatorian, looks to use her dual citizenship and bilingualism towards improving international dialogue.

They were each pleasantly surprised, they said, to learn that their work throughout high school earned them the highest grades in their class, though they admitted to being nervous about giving a speech in front of their peers.

“I thought it was going to be my friend Julia or one of my other classmates,” said Tubbs of who she expected to be co-salutatorian. As it turned out, she was half right.

Dancer’s nervousness before graduation was coupled with excitement, as she said that participating in school musicals helped her overcome her stage fright over the years.

Their speeches were all met with applause at Saturday’s ceremony.

“I’m a little sad right now; it feels weird that all this is coming to an end,” Galgay said of high school. “But I’m definitely looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Michael Galgay

Valedictorian Michael Galgay, the son of Patrick and Aline Galgay, is proud to have graduated at the top of his class.

“I knew I’d done pretty well over the past few years, but I didn’t want to assume anything,” said Galgay.

While at BKW, Galgay was also in the National Honor Society; wrote and edited for the school newspaper, The Bulldog Barker, in his junior and senior years; and participated in the school’s Drama Fest in his sophomore and junior years, and was part of the stage crew this year.

An athlete himself and an avid sports fan, Galgay hopes to find a way to combine his love for athletics and his interest in writing, and will do so at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Before visiting the campus, he had not been further west than Illinois, he said.

“The original thing that brought me there is just that it’s a great school, and it’s located right in the Twin Cities,” he said. “I loved the Twin Cities.”

Galgay has always had an interest in writing, though it is not a profession that runs in his family, he said.

“I’m actually looking to do something English or communications related,” said Galgay. “Besides being a baseball player, I’d say my dream job would be an ESPN anchor, because it would be a combination of both.”

Of playing baseball professionally, he said, “I don’t know how realistic it is, since it’s a D3 school, but I guess it’s every college athlete’s dream.”

In addition to playing baseball at BKW, Galgay was also on the varsity soccer team for the past three years, and was a co-captain in his senior year. He also skied with his brother, Brandon, in the 2009 Empire State Winter Games.

He will continue to play baseball at Macalester.

“I got recruited to play there, but it’s Division 3, so they can’t give scholarships,” he said. “But I did get academic money.”

He anticipates playing intramural sports while in college as well.

“Probably soccer and basketball, but nothing organized,” he said. He also hopes to work for the school’s student newspaper, The Mac Weekly, and for the school’s radio station, WMCN.

But before he leaves for the Twin Cities, he will enjoy one more summer with his high-school friends.

“I just have to thank everyone who has helped me to get where I am,” Galgay concluded. “There’s no way I could have done it by myself.”

Julia Dancer

Julia Dancer, the daughter of Craig and Ute Dancer, is one of two co-salutatorians from this year’s graduating class. Her twin sister, Sarah, is also graduating.

Though Dancer was born in America, her family moved to Germany when she and her sister were just nine months old. With a German mother and an American father, the two children were raised to be bilingual.

“I’ve decided to pay tribute to my public school education by going to a public school in New York City,” Dancer said. So, she will be attending The City College, the oldest school in the City University of New York system. She will be in the Macaulay Honors College, which spans seven of the CUNY schools. She plans on double majoring in international studies and Spanish, and she hopes to eventually focus on women’s and children’s rights.

“My far-off goal in the future is to maybe work at the United Nations,” said Dancer. “I don’t know what kind of speaking I’d be doing there — probably a lot of paperwork,” she laughed. “And, I feel like, if I don’t do something on the international stage, I’m kind of wasting my dual citizenship.”

Dancer was excited to learn that her maternal grandparents would be in town from Germany to see her and her sister graduate.

“My grandfather said that, if we don’t have a channel that shows every single World Cup game, he wants to come after the World Cup is over,” Dancer laughed. “So, for two months, we got a more extended cable service for him.”

While at BKW, Dancer was president of both Students Serving Society and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

As she leaves high school, she urges people to stay in touch. “People lose contact way too much when they leave high school,” Dancer said.

She concluded, “For my family and friends, I love them, and, even though I won’t be around here, we’re going out into the world, and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to come back.”

Gabrielle Tubbs

Dancer shared the title of co-salutatorian this year with her friend Gabrielle Tubbs.

“I was completely shocked,” Tubbs said of finding out she was a co-salutatorian. She is the daughter of Penny Plouffe and Joseph Plouffe Sr.

As a BKW student, Tubbs was in the National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Students United for Money Management, and she served as a treasurer for the school yearbook.

Next year, she will study biochemistry at Siena College in Loudonville. The decision to do so came while she was in an Advanced Placement chemistry course this year.

“I really liked the lab setting, and I kind of want to help find cures for diseases to help people get better,” Tubbs said. “I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve kind of gone from teaching; and then I wanted to be a doctor; and then an endocrinologist; and then, I came to doing research for cures for diseases.”

She will explore the school’s extracurricular opportunities at the activities fair during orientation, she said.

Over the summer, she plans to go camping on Thompsons Lake, visit her grandparents in Florida, and may help out with office work at her parents’ business, Cornerstone Heating and Cooling.

When the time comes to leave for college, Tubbs will miss the people she has been close to on the Hill.

“I’ll be down in Loudonville, so I guess I could come back. But, once people move away, that will be kind of upsetting,” Tubbs said. “I’m definitely going to miss my friends and my family up here.”

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