POTSDAM - Since being named valedictorian, Lee P. Buchanan said hes come to realize how big a deal it really is.
I didnt think it was that big of a deal until random community members started congratulating me, he said. A lot of times I didnt know what they were congratulating me for.
Mr. Buchanan said the congratulations have come from family friends, teachers and even complete strangers, who have seemingly formed opinions of him based on the honor.
A lot of people already have formed good opinions of me. It makes my life easier, now I dont need to impress anybody, he joked.
Mr. Buchanan said the road to becoming valedictorian though was one hes always known he wanted to travel and one that was paved with a lot of hard work along the way.
It was always a goal of mine, but I wasnt really going to be heartbroken if it didnt happen, he said. It was more Ill work as hard as I can and see where that takes me.
Next year that hard work is taking him Washington and Lee University in Lexington,Va., where hes planning to major in mathematics.
Following college though, he said hes not sure yet what he wants to do.
It depends on how employable a mathematics degree is, he said. If I have to pursue a masters or doctorate, I will.
Ten years down the road, Mr. Buchanan said hes hoping to have a family.
Hopefully Ill have a family, thats all I know, he said. Thats the goal anyway.
High school Principal Joann Chambers said shes known Lee since he was a young boy.
I can attest to his rare intellectual capacity, fierce competitiveness and deep interest in the well-being of others, she said. Ask any teacher in this high school to describe Lee and one of the first things they will tell you is that he is an outstanding student with an unwavering commitment to excellence.
While at Potsdam, Mr. Buchanan said he was inspired by several of his teachers, including his eighth-grade math teacher, Tony Vaccaro.
We had his class first period every morning, and he used to start each class with a motivational speech and it worked on me, he said.
I dont know if it worked on anyone else though, Mr. Buchanan quipped.
Another inspiration was his basketball coach, Steve Kmack.
As far as motivation, hes great. He provided motivation that I could take off the court and into the classroom, Mr. Buchanan said.
Mr. Buchanan also mentioned one other teacher, high school math teacher Geoffrey Coleman, simply saying, Mr. Coleman was always there for me.
Other pillars of support where also his parents, Brent and Mary Buchanan and Linda Buchanan.
Theyve always supported me through the long days, and theyve been great motivators, he said.
While enrolled at Potsdam Central School, Mr. Buchanan said he played soccer, basketball and baseball, while also participating in Canta Sera, National Honor Society and the Freshman Leadership Team.