Senior Audrey Gaither has been named the valedictorian of the Class of 2017. Gaither attended Redwood for four years, earning a total academic weighted GPA of 4.56.
Over her high school career, Gaither has taken 14 AP and Honors classes. She has participated in swimming and band, serves as co-captain of the speech and debate team and is a member of the model rocketry club.
Gaither said that becoming valedictorian has been a strong focus of hers, but she was determined to balance high academic standards with opportunities to follow her passions and interests outside of school.
“I’m really proud and I’m really excited to give the speech at graduation, but what made it so significant for me was the fact that I’ve been able to do so many things and pursue academics, and this was just a validation of the fact that I’ve been able to manage my time really well,” Gaither said.
She also said that her friends and family are very proud of her achievements, although they were not completely surprised at the fact that she was named valedictorian.
“I do think that I have been working really hard for four years and my friends and family have noticed that, so it’s really, really nice to get that recognition, but it definitely hasn’t been sudden,” Gaither said. “I’m more proud of the work I’ve done than necessarily the awards.”
Gaither’s four-year band teacher, John Mattern, has seen the kind of dedication and drive she has had towards music, as well as school and swimming.
“[Gaither is] one of the more dedicated young people I’ve known. Dedication comes obviously with the kind of grades she pulled off and all that, but she loves music and she’s a swimmer,” Mattern said.
While Mattern believes that academics can often overshadow extracurriculars, he thinks that Gaither has maintained the passion necessary to excel in music and school for reasons other than getting a good grade.
“One can become deluded with getting good grades and equating that to setting up for a successful life, when all the pieces aren’t really there. And on the other hand, doing music is a very different thing because there’s this continual fine tuning and hard work that it takes to become better as a musician,” Mattern said. “I think she always got that and I think Audrey is that kind of person that knows, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get together and it’s urgent that I do’ for reasons other than getting a grade.”
Gaither will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, and plans on studying bioengineering. Her university plans align with her favorite subjects in high school, the maths and the sciences.
“BC Calculus was probably my favorite class, even if it was by far the most difficult class I’ve taken at Redwood,” Gaither said.