Newtown High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian both credit their families with support and encouragement throughout their academic years.
Class of 2014 Valedictorian Anne Beier and Salutatorian Amisha Dave were both honored, along with other top students in their graduating class, at the Board of Education’s June 3 meeting.
By June 4, both girls admitted to already pondering the speeches they will deliver before their fellow graduates at the 2014 NHS graduation commencement ceremony, set for June 17.
Anne said she was nervous about her speech and plans to practice it prior to graduation, and Amisha said she had ideas but had not finalized her speech yet.
After her freshman year at NHS, Anne said she realized that she wanted to be her class’s valedictorian. She knew she had the grades to achieve it, and also knew what it would take to become the valedictorian. Since then, Anne said she completed her homework, but was never a perfectionist. She focused on what she needed to focus on.
Anne said she always just tries to be responsible and always does her best.
The Beiers moved to Newtown when Anne was in preschool, from Yardley, Penn. Anne attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, Reed Intermediate School, and Newtown Middle School before attending NHS.
In general, Anne said she “always had awesome teachers” and she was always excited to go to school.
All subjects are interesting for Anne, but she recently began focusing more on science, taking advanced placement courses in chemistry, biology, and physics. She also liked taking a government course and now can see herself entering the field of politics someday.
Anne will attend Brown University in the fall and plans to study biomedical engineering, but she has not settled on a major yet. Anne said she is keeping her options open.
Along with “a long list of exceptional teachers,” Anne said her family — father Joe, Mom Sarah, older brother Robbie, and younger sisters Lauren and Elise — has always been a source of support.
“My family is number one,” Anne said. “They are the best.”
Each of her family members was always there for her on tough days, Anne said. There were times when Anne said she was stressed and her mother offered her help. While she said she typically declined help, knowing her mother was there for her was all the help she needed.
Anne has played tennis “for forever,” and has been working at Ferris Acres Creamery after school. She was involved in Student Government, the 2014 Class Council, the National Honor Society, and served as the National Honor Society committee’s chair with FUN (Families United in Newtown), which offers events to support families with special needs children and promotes autism awareness in the community. Anne also visited Japan her sophomore year during a Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) delegation visit, “which is really awesome,” Anne said.
Anne said she is thankful to all her friends, teachers, family, and supporters for their encouragement over the years.
A Path To Success
Amisha said her family moved to Newtown for her eighth grade year at Newtown Middle School, before that she attended Broadview Middle School in Danbury.
Her favorite subjects are math and science, and this year Amisha said she enjoyed taking an advanced placement physics course with NHS teacher Bridget Berechid. Ms Berechid, Amisha said, also helped Amisha obtain an internship at Yale University, during which Amisha said she conducted research.
Amisha said Ms Berechid has been “probably the most influential teacher in my life.”
Amisha has participated in the high school’s Student Government, National Honor Society, served as captain of the school’s math team, ran for the school’s track team her freshman and sophomore years, and also worked with FUN through the National Honor Society. Amisha said she is also serving as a volunteer at Danbury Hospital now, and she said that experience has helped to shape her.
But it is her family — father Deepak, mom Jagruti, and little brother Arav — that Amisha credits as her support structure.
“They are super supportive, and I think they are one of the reasons I have always challenged myself,” she said.
While helping to motivate her, Amisha said her family also helped show her a path to success.
Amisha will be starting her studies for an eight-year medical program this fall at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Anne and Amisha also offered advice for undergraduates at NHS.
“Just work hard, challenge yourself definitely, take classes you are scared to take, and try the best that you can do,” Amisha said. “And step out of your comfort zone.”
Stepping out of comfort zones is also a good way to make friends and have the best experiences, Amisha advised.
“Figure out what you want…” Anne said. “If you want it, then you probably definitely have the ability to achieve it.”