By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Sydney Riddick and Brendan Carroll learned some of the greatest life lessons over the past four years at St. Paul Catholic High School.
For Sydney, the biggest lesson she ever learned throughout high school was “Keep trying” and “don’t give up.” For Brendan, the biggest lesson he learned at St. Paul was “Be who you are” and “Stand strong in the face of adversity.”
Out of their graduating senior class of 106 students, Brendan was named valedictorian and Sydney was named salutatorian. Graduation will take place Tuesday, June 2, 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford where both Brendan and Sydney will deliver speeches.
“It feels like all our hard work has paid off and that was my goal from the beginning—work hard and aim high,” said Sydney.
“It’s a great honor,” added Brendan. “It’s comforting to know that all the hard work we put in over these past four years is being recognized.”
From the time she entered high school, Sydney became involved in a variety of student clubs and activities, such as the art, photography, ballet, student government, journalism, culture and language clubs, and yearbook. She also has served on the math team while being a member of both the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. In addition, she has received a number of awards over the years, including the Yale Book Award, Superintendant’s Summa Scholar Award, and a Scholar Athlete Award for tennis, among other recognitions.
Although ballet has been her favorite extracurricular activity, Sydney said she enjoyed trying a little bit of everything.
One piece of advice she has for other students following in her footsteps: “challenge yourself.”
“Recognize your strengths and recognize your weaknesses, and work to strengthen yourself as a person,” said Sydney.
Since his freshman year, Brendan has been involved in varsity sports, including football, basketball, baseball and outdoor track and field and has received a variety of athletic recognitions. During his junior and senior year, he served as captain for both the varsity football and basketball teams. Besides being a member of both the Spanish and National Honor Society, Brendan has taken on a number of leadership experiences. Not only has Brendan been a Blue Key Club student ambassador, but he has also served as class vice president and captain of the Academic Quiz Bowl.
For Brendan, student government served as his favorite extracurricular activity. Student government has put on a variety of activities for the school and community, such as coordinating the BARC prom held at St. Paul. Brendan said he enjoyed taking part in the planning of these events.
A piece of advice for students following in his footsteps: “push yourself to the limit.”
“You’re capable of a lot more than you think,” said Brendan. “If you…put yourself out there, you’ll find that there’s people there to help you and guide you.”
After high school, Brendan plans to attend Providence College, where he plans to study either mathematics or quantitative economics paired with Spanish as a double major. Long-term he hopes to pursue a career in sports analytics.
Looking back over the past four years, Brendan said his favorite memories occurred when he played sports, including football, basketball, and track.
No matter what sport he was playing, Brendan said he enjoyed bonding with his teammates and forming relationships with his coaches.
“That was the most rewarding experience I had at St. Paul,” said Brendan, adding how his parents have served as an inspiration for him.
After high school, Sydney will attend Wesleyan University, where she plans to major in cognitive neuropsychology while staying involved in different clubs. Exhibiting a passion for learning how people comprehend and learn, Sydney said she hopes to enter the medical field in the future.
For Sydney, her favorite memories at St. Paul took place while tutoring different subject areas, including math, Spanish and religion, which she said allowed her to connect with others on a personal level.
“Helping them to achieve their goal has been rewarding for me,” said Sydney, adding how her teachers have inspired her throughout high school.