Between advanced placement classes, homework, softball games, and softball practices, its been hard to find time lately to write the valedictorian speech she will deliver on Wednesday.
“It’s been really busy lately because my school has a different type of finals, it’s kind of like defending your thesis in college, I had to write a 10-page paper and defend it,” New Mission High valedictorian Gena White said last week.
“The next couple days I have are definitely devoted to that speech. I’m going to work hard on it.”
The four-time softball all-star is one of three valedictorians from Boston’s public schools who is also an athlete. Daniel Felix, who competed in softball and crew for South Boston High, and Dorchester High baseball and indoor track athlete Amine Elmeghni are also among Boston public schools’ 34 valedictorians of the Class of 2012.
All 34 valedictorians were honored last week during a luncheon at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
On June 11, Felix will deliver the first-ever Valedictorian speech for the Boston Green Academy. The Horace Mann charter school opened in the South Boston Educational complex in the fall of 2011.
“I think it should be no sweat for me,” Felix, who carries a 4.3 GPA and will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall, said of her speech. “I’m just going to talk about how hard my classes were and how hard I’ve been working over the last four years and how we all transferred from different schools.”
The Washington D.C. native moved to Mattapan before her freshman year.
“I’m really happy for myself because this is what I’ve been working hard from day one,” she said. “I didn’t picture myself the first Valedictorian, it’s kind of crazy and unbelievable. It’s unbelievable I made it this far and it’s such an honor. I will forever remember this in my lifetime.”
Elmeghni said he is also still working on his speech, which he will deliver on June 12.
The 16-year-old, who skipped first-grade, carries a 3.95 GPA and will attend Syracuse University on a full academic scholarship in the fall, said sports helped him assimilate to high school life.
“During the first year, because I was so young I was always seen as different,” he said. “Baseball was my path to adjusting to the new school environment and during baseball I met a lot of my friends that I have now, a lot of my close friends. I built a lot of relationships through sports.
“Sports has been the best part of my high school career. It’s been the best part of my high school career. I always looked forward to coming to games and sports. It motivated me to come to school every day because if you don’t come to school the day of a game you are unable to attend the game.”
All three athletes said sports has taught them how to better cope with their academic workloads.
“I think I’m better when I’m busy,” White said. “It makes sure my body is keeping up with my mind instead of me being lazy and just doing academics. I take a lot of rigorous classes. Being able to go to practice and games physically has the function of helping me.
“Even though it does require a lot of hours, in the end I feel it’s worth it because I’m not as stressed as I should be.”
But while they said being busy helps them be more productive, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Elmeghni, who lives in Dorchester, said the key to balancing athletics and academics is, “Just being able to tell yourself you can do the homework when you get home. I think the big part is when I get home after a tiring game I just have to keep myself focused and determined to do the work.”
A larger workload in college was the reason White originaly decided not to play softball at Smith College in the fall. But the Jamaica Plain native, who has a 4.1 GPA, eventually changed her mind.
“At first I was afraid of not being able to deal with the workload because it’s a lot more challenging taking all of those classes at the same time,” she said, “but then I felt I didn’t want to let go of softball yet.
“I felt maybe I should challenge myself.
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