The Best of the Valley

Valedictorian Sharon Powley and Salutatorian Aneesh Bhave smile happily at the conclusion of the semester, standing in front of a map to symbolize their impending world domination.

Valedictorian Sharon Powley and Salutatorian Aneesh Bhave smile happily at the conclusion of the semester, standing in front of a map to symbolize their impending world domination.

Sophie Lyu, Journalism Student

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While she’s number one in the class of 2018, prospective Valedictorian Sharon Powley says her number one priority has never been to gain recognition for it.

Powley, who has recently been accepted to Princeton University, explains, “A lot of people who don’t know me make assumptions [based on my ranking].” Such assumptions would include an expectation of superiority, a need to flaunt her achievements. On the contrary, while focused on maintaining her grades, she sees the status as more of a personal goal than a title to hide behind. No different than her peers, Powley is both excited and exhausted by the obstacles and opportunities offered by her final year at Valley, which she plans to enjoy.  

“As of now I’m focusing on keeping my senioritis at bay with the motivation that my rank will be an accomplishment,” she says with a laugh.

Both a standout student and an ambitious athlete, Powley goes from stunning teachers and students alike with her quick wit by dawn to spinning heads at track meets by dusk.

“I use track as an outlet to alleviate stress and spend time with my teammates,” Powley says. Not only a physical outlet, she focuses on the social aspect as well, attributing many of her important friendships to the mutual suffering and success she endures with her teammates. Thanks to the diverse pool of students track draws in, Powley has been able to meet a plethora of people she would not otherwise cross paths with–a phenomenon she finds eye-opening. “Sports have always been a part of my life, and while it doesn’t leave much time, I still find time for leisure–often within it.”

On top of setting records and taking names, Powley brings joy to the lives of many at her place of employment: The Packanack Bakery. Although she clearly has a lot on her plate (mainly donuts), Powley enjoys her job, viewing it as another opportunity to meet new people and explore new things.

If you’re beginning to envision Sharon Powley as a fast-footed, constantly-curious renaissance woman, you would be getting closer to the image beyond her number. Always up for a good roast (whether that be a pot roast or a Twitter roast), she keeps her busy life lively by surrounding herself with her friends and her many hobbies.

“I like spending time with my friends,” she says, invested in keeping up with both her social and academic life. “When I’m not studying, at track, or sleeping, I also enjoy spending time with my dogs, helping others, and impersonating Pennywise.”

Projected Salutatorian Aneesh Bhave can attest to this, maintaining an unstrained relationship with Sharon.

“Sharon and I have had a healthy competition for the last year or so. We constantly push each other to be the best we can in school,” he explains, citing their dynamic as a motivating rather than discouraging factor.

After all, Bhave has his own bustling life to attend to between scoring goals as the Wayne Valley’s Soccer team’s captain, and scoring repetitive 100s on nearly every AP Psychology test that dares come his way. He also rejects the constraint of his ranking, unwilling to be confined to a number. He stresses the importance of making time for the things that matter to him beyond academics, although sometimes managing his many challenging yet strategically-chosen classes becomes difficult.

Bhave’s athletic career is something he focuses great attention on in addition to school. Managing both club season and the high school soccer season, he expresses his deep devotion to the sport, which has been a huge part of his life growing up. “Being named captain of the soccer team was an honor and a great experience. As one of the most experienced players on the team, it was great to have people look up to me as a leader,” he shares, thrilled to have led the successful season.

Despite all the stress senior year has to offer, both Powley and Bhave look forward to the future moments that make it all worth it: prom, the National Honor Society trip, senior cut day. In these moments–shared with all of Wayne Valley’s class of 2018–the two academic marvels find unity.

Possibly the most intriguing fact among the many aforementioned is that Powley and Bhave see themselves the same way many of us see ourselves: reasonably flawed, sometimes stressed, and even occasionally confused. Could it be that the two most successful academics in their grade are also human?

For those who do not personally know the class of 2018’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian: the true Sharon Powley and Aneesh Bhave who reside within such titles are far more interesting.

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