DERRY — Pinkerton Academy announces its top two students for the Class of 2019
Valedictorian is Maria Gibeau and salutatorian is Lauren Sylvain. Both are from Auburn.
After graduation, Gibeau will attend Rivier University where she plans on majoring in elementary education and minoring in special education. She is the daughter of Ronda and Joseph Gibeau and has a sister Olivia who is a junior in college.
Gibeau took child development her sophomore year at Pinkerton and knew quickly she wanted to teach.
“I just realized I really want to dedicate my life to helping children and being there for them,” she said.
Gibeau built a schedule of classes that allowed her to gain teaching experience while in high school. In her core classes she took the most challenging levels, but she also worked in unleveled electives such as Teacher Preparation and classes that pair regular education and special education students.
“Each teacher brings a unique personality into the classroom, and I really loved getting to know them,” Gibeau said. “They helped me grow through the relationships I formed with them.”
Her family was Gibeau’s most consistent support.
“My parents and my family have always been very supportive of what I wanted to do," she said. "I think that helped me be able to grow and branch out and do what I wanted in high school."
Sylvain is the daughter of Rolanda and John Sylvain. Her sister, Julia, was the salutatorian for the class of 2018.
Sylvain reflects on her four years of high school with mature objectivity.
“It’s actually been a very interesting ride,” she said. “I have a story so to say — I suffer from depression and a sound condition called misophonia which have limited me from being in the classroom.”
What others might use as an excuse, Sylvain uses as motivation. She has made it a bit of a personal mission to help educate others about mental health and to dispel stereotypes.
While her path to graduation was not necessarily the typical one, Sylvain said it helped form who she is.
“A lot of my success was independent study,” she said. “I utilize the 504 room a lot. I’m always wearing headphones in there and trying to listen to music and calm myself down. But I think the power of positive self talk is so important because even when I’m extremely discouraged in class and I have an anxiety attack, going to the 504 room and telling myself, ‘You can get through this. Show them that you can do even better than what’s expected. Just study, work hard, and put in the effort and the results will come.’”
Sylvain is taking a year off after graduation to focus on her health and take some general education classes before attending Hofstra on scholarship. She plans to double major in neuroscience and psychology.
She credits her family with being her most important source of encouragement.
Recognizing her accomplishments as a student, Sylvain offers advice to those who might be struggling with depression or other health issues.
“Stay strong and really use your support,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you can’t always do it alone.”
Pinkerton will honor the Class of 2019 at commencement ceremonies on Monday, June 10, 4 p.m. at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester.