Teamwork is the tool to success, says salutatorian Christian Keenan

VOORHEESVILLE — Salutatorian Christian Keenan stood alone at the lectern as he gave his speech on June 27. But, behind him sat the rest of the members of the Clayton A. Bouton High School class of 2014, and in front of him were all their friends and families.

As he gave his salutatory speech, Keenan looked from one group to the other; he was talking a lot about teamwork, and how being part of a team helped each student accomplish his or her goals.

He likened the relationships each student had with friends, family, and teachers to the relationships found in the television show and card game Pokémon.

“Pokémon has really taught me that life is a journey,” he said. “As we progress, we face great opposition.”

Only by working together as a team, Keenan said, can anyone overcome the myriad challenges life throws at you.

This fall, Keenan will be leaving his Voorheesville team to become part of a new community at the University of Rochester, where he plans to study biomedical engineering.

Before graduation, he told The Enterprise he was also considering chemical engineering or biology.

“I’m a math and science nerd,” he said. “The reason I like math and science is you know when you’re done… You know what you don’t know, and it spurs you to keep going.”

When he wasn’t engrossed in math and science classes at Voorheesville, Keenan participated in soccer and track, as well as many clubs and student government.

Keenan’s favorite position was being class president, and he made it his priority.

“I was president of my class before everything else,” he said.

Keenan enjoyed all the diverse activities and fundraisers the class officers and student government have been doing, and wants to continue participating in those groups while in college.

His decision to go to the University of Rochester was founded on its academics, as well as the diversity of its students and the extracurriculars it offers, Keenan said.

He felt that the school recognized that “a student is a person outside the classroom.”

Balancing his studies with his other school activities was vital to Keenan.

“My dad always told me to do what I have to do before what I want to do,” he said.

Outside school, Keenan said he enjoys hanging out and watching television.

“My favorite show is Master Chef,” he said, “which is ironic because I cannot cook to save my life.”

While cooking may not have been a part of Keenan’s studies in high school, he went into Clayton A. Bouton wanting to try everything.

“I remember when I went in [as a freshman] with my ‘nerd herd,’ as I sometimes call them,” Keenan said, “we wanted to do this and this and this… We went in with a positive attitude.”

“In middle school they made high school sound like the big monster you would be lucky to survive,” he continued, “but, every bit of hard work you put into it pays off, even if it’s not immediately.”

In his speech, Keenan championed not the hard work of the individual, but the hard work of the team, and how the support of team members makes things possible.

“When you fall, they are there,” he said.

Amid quoting from the Pokémon theme song and dialogue from the show, Keenan’s final advice to his classmates was his own.

“Find a team. Work together. Achieve your wildest dreams.”

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