NORFOLK - Gabrielle Cole’s parents told her that hard work would pay off, and it has.
Ms. Cole, the daughter of Jim and Cheryl Cole of Norwood, is the valedictorian for Norwood-Norfolk Central School’s Class of 2014 with an average of 97.52 while taking Advanced Placement and honors courses.
“I really worked on my time management skills. My parents always told me it was very important,” she said.
Time management was an important part of the senior’s life as she excelled both academically and in extracurricular activities. Ms. Cole is graduating Saturday with an Advanced Regents Diploma with honors while taking demanding courses that included AP American History, AP Calculus, AP English and upper-level science and math courses.
Her work in the classroom led to a number of recognitions, including the Clarkson Leadership Award, the Brown Book Award, University of Rochester Baush and Lomb Honorary Science Award, and Ms. Cole is a Rensselear Medalist.
Outside of the classroom, she was a member of Varsity Club and National Honor Society, and played soccer and softball. She held leadership positions that included National Honor Society president, class vice president and band vice president.
Ms. Cole also participated in community service activities, including bell ringing for the Salvation Army and gift wrapping for Angel Tree, and worked part-time as a lifeguard at SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University.
“I thought it was good to try and spread my wings and take on leadership skills and sports,” she said.
Adding all of the school and extracurricular work together, she said it sometimes meant burning the midnight oil.
“At times it was very difficult. I definitely had to put in a lot of effort. I had to let some of the stuff go and stay home and study,” she said.
But being named valedictorian was something that had been a goal since the day she entered high school, making all of the extra work worth the time, Ms. Cole said.
“I was very happy. I felt very achieved because that’s been my goal throughout high school. Since ninth grade I wanted to be valedictorian. I was very excited. I’m really proud of myself for pushing through and getting it done,” she said.
English teacher Rachel Cook said Ms. Cole was always a student who strived for excellence. The valedictorian was in Ms. Cook’s freshman English class, and Ms. Cook also had her in public speaking.
“I’ve known Gabi since she was in eighth grade. She was definitely a pleasure to have in class. She is very well-spoken. She articulates her thoughts well. She gave a pretty big speech at the Clarkson Summer Camp,” Ms. Cook said.
She said Ms. Cole’s work ethic and her hard work, no matter if she was in the classroom or on the soccer field or softball diamond, made her stand out.
It’s a trait Ms. Cole shares with her father, according to Ms. Cook.
“Hard work pays off,” she said.
Ms. Cole’s advice to others who are striving to become their class valedictorian is simple - never give up.
“Just believe in yourself. Once you get a goal, know that you can achieve it,” she said.
She’ll share similar advice with her fellow graduates Saturday night at Hosmer Hall as they receive their diplomas and head out into a new world.
“I have a lot of insights,” Ms. Cole said. “Just keep pushing on and know that no matter what path life takes, keep on going.”
Her path will take her to Rochester Institute of Technology, where she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
“I’m going to study mechanical engineering and hope to get a job right out of school,” she said.
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