As June approaches, with each passing day the sunshine grows longer and the final few days of high school trickle away. Valedictorian and salutatorian honorees come from all walks of life and each enjoys a unique set of experiences during their time in high school. However, they all share one common similarity in being the brightest and best students throughout New York and across the country.
Cortland Junior Senior High School (CJSHS) valedictorian Meaghan Kendall and salutatorian Zach Osbeck recently shared their thoughts on the past and present, as they get ready to leave Cortland and embark on their journey to adulthood.
Meet Valedictorian Meaghan Kendall
During her time at CJSHS, Meaghan has thrived both inside and outside of the classroom. Her achievements and activities at CJSHS include Science Olympiad, Mock Trials, Student Council, National Honor Society, and Link Crew. In addition to this, Meaghan is also a student athlete, playing on the Cortland Enlarged City School District (CECSD) Tennis and Track and Field teams.
Inside the classroom, Meaghan credits her French teacher, Ms. Chapman, as being influential to her success. Along with Ms. Chapman, Meaghan also credits her group of friends for being so supportive throughout her time at CECSD.
“Ms. Chapman has been amazing,” she said. “And all of my friends have always been there for me, for each other. We’re always helping each other out. It has been wonderful to have such a support system around me at CJSHS.”
Meaghan will attend Colgate University in the fall, majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience. Her goal is to be able to help learn more about neuromuscular diseases and find a way to help people with them – continuing to create a support group just like she did as CJSHS.
Both Zach and Meaghan cited the Cortland community as being an important part of their time at
“I’ve enjoyed feeling like I’m part of a community,” said Meaghan. “A community consisting of my fellow students, teachers, and staff.”
Meaghan is also grateful for the opportunities CECSD offered her, including the ability to graduate with an associate degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3).
When asked if she had any advice for incoming freshman at CJSHS, Meaghan shared the approach that worked before for her.
“Don’t stress too much about the work,” she said. “It’s important to still make time for hanging out with friends and having fun.”
As for advice for her fellow graduates, Meaghan plans to share that and more at the upcoming CECSD graduation ceremony on Friday, June 23. But for now, her advice is all about maintaining a support system.
“Don’t forget all your friends from high school,” she said. “They were your support system and likely will still be. You don’t always know what’s going to happen after graduation or what to expect, and that’s okay. But having the support system there will help you through it all.”
Meet Salutatorian Zach Osbeck
Like Meaghan, Zach grew up in Cortland with an influential group of people around him. Parents play a major role in the development of any young adult and Zach’s were ever-present in their support throughout his life. Whether it has been at his numerous academic and athletic events - Zach was a key player on both the Cortland High School Varsity Soccer Team and a regional travel team - his family has always been vocal in their support and helped motivate him to achieve his best.
Reflecting back on Zach’s experience with CECSD he says he “feels thankful for all of the opportunities that were offered to him.” Zach is graduating not only with a New York State Regents Diploma, but with an associate degree from TC3, thanks to the high school’s dual enrollment partnership with TC3.
Zach plans on attending University of Buffalo in the fall and majoring in Biomedical Sciences with hopes to go into Biomedical Engineering. Zach chose this field after being inspired by a family member, who sparked his interest in making an impact on advancing technology in the medical field.
Zach sites the relationships that he has built as what made his time at at CJSHS enjoyable. He recognizes how hard teachers work and how much they truly care for their students. Mr. Marks, Mr. Canestaro, and Mrs. Hughes are all teachers Zach identified as having a positive influence on him. Mr. Marks provided an example to Zach on how to be efficient with time management, as he always hands back essays right away. Mr. Canestaro differentiates the way he teaches to make sure every student gains a firm understanding of the topic at hand, while Mrs. Hughes he says, “has so much on her plate, but always finds a way to get the job done.”
Like Meaghan, Zach plans to share his advice for his fellow graduates at the upcoming CECSD graduation ceremony on Friday, June 23. But for now, his advice is all about managing time and getting involved in the school community.
“It’s really important to start learning how to budget your time at a young age,” said Zach. “It’s a great time and opportunity to find out what works for you. Doing that will make it easier to get involved in the school community. From sports to clubs to TC3, Cortland has a lot of great resources to offer and I’d encourage others to take advantage of that.”
Both Zach and Meaghan are Cortland’s finest and part of an elite group of New York State's best and brightest high school students. As we look into what 2018 and beyond has to offer, we know that Zach and Meaghan will go on to make positive contributions in the field of their choice, Biomedical Engineering. We wish them the best as they take their Cortland experiences and move on to their respect colleges, Colgate and University of Buffalo.
Best wishes to Meaghan and Zach! On behalf of the CECSD, we are proud of you and all our 2017 graduates!