Valedictorian Suozzo gives thanks and looks forward

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Smiling for success: Before heading into the Lydia A. Tobler Performing Arts Center, salutatorian Christian Keenan, left, and valedictorian Julia Suozzo posed for a photo in the gymnasium. Keenan will be attending the University of Rochester this fall, and Suozzo will be attending Harvard University.

VOORHEESVILLE — Julia Suozzo, the class valedictorian, shared wisdom from her experiences at Voorheesville in the speech she gave to her classmates and their friends and families at the June 27 commencement ceremony.

“Who am I to tell you how to live your life?” she asked at the beginning of her speech, emphasizing that high school is a different experience for everyone and she wasn’t looking to give a typical graduation speech filled with advice.

For Suozzo, whose sister will be a junior at Clayton A. Bouton this coming fall, her high school experience included many college-level and honors classes, as well as participating in the Science Olympiad and being on the varsity swim team; this year, she was captain.

In the fall, Suozzo will be attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She said to The Enterprise before graduation that she has chosen physics for her major right now, “but that’s very subject to change.”

One catalyst for her interest in the field came from taking a physics course with Ted Simons, who was given an award earlier this year for being an inspirational high school educator.

“It’s cool to look at the world around you and see how things come together,” Suozzo told The Enterprise, regarding her interest in physics.

Suozzo said she was drawn to Harvard because she “really wanted something with a liberal arts base,” rather than an engineering school.

She liked the idea of being able to study everything she wants, not just her major area.

“I just felt like I kind of clicked with the students there,” she said, describing her feelings when visiting the school.

She is hoping to participate in club sports at Harvard, and is also interested in joining a chorus or band group and get involved in community service.

While at Voorheesville, Suozzo volunteered as a ski instructor for people who have mental or physical disabilities.

Speaking about the educational environment at Voorheesville, Suozzo said, “Every teacher really likes what they’re doing.”

Suozzo took many college-level and honors classes while at Clayton A. Bouton, and said the environment was “more competitive with yourself” than with other students.

During her valedictory speech, Suozzo said high school taught her interpersonal skills as well as academic ones. Every day, you have to interact with friends and teachers, which helps you learn how to interact with co-workers and bosses later in life, she said.

She also thanked her family in her speech, saying, “Without you, there would be no me.”

When she spoke with The Enterprise a few days before graduating, Souzzo said she built self-confidence during her high school years in Voorheesville, and that organization and discipline were important to her accomplishing what she wanted.

“Do everything first and do it thoroughly,” was how she described her work ethic.

She said her speech was difficult to write, because it needed to say something important, but also not be boring.

She began her speech by noting that, in preparation for writing it, she looked up the definition of “valedictory,” which means expressing or relating to a farewell.

“I did some homework, which shouldn’t surprise anyone,” she said while at the lectern.

In her speech, she expressed a farewell to her classmates, but also to their collective past as Voorheesville students, and she looked towards the future.

“Where do we go from here? Anywhere. Everywhere, I hope,” she said.

“The future, which can be frightening to think about,” she continued, “should be exciting.”

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