By Rob Glidden
This year’s top three students at Southington High School learned a great deal about time management skills over the last four years, as they balanced their school work with numerous extra-curricular and community activities.
Valedictorian Bryan Davis, Salutatorian Jonathan La Follette and Essayist Molly Potter are all pursuing careers related to science and credited their experiences in specialized activities and community involvement with helping them find their path.
Davis is headed for The University of Connecticut to study electrical engineering. He said the Project Lead the Way technology classes had helped cultivate a passion for the work.
“We were exposed to all different types of engineering,” he said. “My father has done electrical engineering too and it turned out to be my favorite.”
Both he and La Follette credit technology teacher Justin Mirante’s classes with helping them learn the fundamentals of engineering firsthand.
“We had a lot of hands-on experience which was very beneficial,” La Follette said. “It wasn’t as much about taking notes or lectures. It was very project-oriented.”
The Salutatorian is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study Biomedical Engineering. He hopes to eventually become involved with prosthetics, specifically prosthetics with moving parts. He acknowledged his time with the high school’s highly accomplished robotics team as an inspiration, even though it kept him extremely busy.
“It was like blending a job with my regular schedule,” he said. “At least most of my friends were in Robotics, so I didn’t need to schedule more time to see them.”
Potter is also going to UCONN and plans to major in Biology while on a Pre-Medicine track. A member of the swim team, she works part-time as a swim instructor at the YMCA and is a counselor at Camp Sloper. She said it was this work that helped her realize she wanted to be a pediatric physician.
“At that job, I found that I loved working with kids,” Potter said. “I also had passion for biology so I wanted to try and combine the two.”
She said English teacher Rebecca Migliaro with helping her determine the best way to achieve that goal.
“English wasn’t my best subject, but she became a mentor,” she said. “She helped me a lot through all the standardized testing and figuring out how to pursue the career I wanted.”
With all three of them dabbling in a number of different activities, the students had to manage their time wisely.
“During lacrosse season, I just had to accept that I would have no free time,” Davis said. “You have to set your priorities.”
Potter said she was excited about having more control over day-to-day activities as a college student.
“I’m looking forward to more freedom with my schedule,” she said. “It’s not the same schedule every day. You get to be independent and on your own.”
While a full schedule can be a positive thing, La Follette urged future students not to become so caught up in perfectionism that they didn’t enjoy their high school experience.
“I see a lot of people stressing about grades and how every tiny mistake is the end of the world,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world. You’ve got to calm down.”
Davis nodded his head in agreement and added, “Work hard, but don’t forget to have fun too.”
By Rob Glidden