OV’s top student reminds class ‘you have the power of change’


After 12 years of hard work and studious learning, 86 students from Otter Valley Union High School received their diplomas on Saturday, June 8.

Many of the students have already planned for their future after graduation. Several have been accepted to apprenticeships or the military and many more are moving on to a two- or four-year school.

On top of their academic achievements, this senior class also has much to be proud of outside of the classroom. Walking Stick Theater was selected for the state finals every year since this class began at OVUHS, and has been chosen for the New England drama festival three out of the past four years. The class has volunteered hundreds of hours of community service and their sports teams are consistently near the top of their divisions with both the softball and baseball teams making the state finals this year.

Otter Valley Principal Jim Avery said this was a class of “hard working students who participate in their community and have a desire to achieve success in whatever they do.”

“They are just a great group of people,” said Meredith McCartney, OV’s high school guidance counselor. “They allow you to believe the future of our community will thrive. There is every kind of talent represented: intellectual, artistic, athletic, mechanical, technical, and social.”

Their hard work, in school, has come to an end but this is only the beginning for them as their valedictorian reminded them.

Hayden Gallo, of Brandon, son of Jonathan and Paige Gallo, was this year’s valedictorian. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the recipient of the UVM Green and Gold Scholarship, Rensselaer Medal award, University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony award and the 2018 Wendy’s High School Heisman Scholarship for the state of Vermont. Gallo’s list of academic and athletic accomplishments could fill several pages, but he encouraged his fellow students not to dwell on the past but to continue striving for success.

“Now is not the time to rest on our laurels,” said Gallo. “There exists a world beyond these gym walls to change and mold in our own individual visions. Life is about perspective and the way you play the cards you’ve been dealt. I urge you to take your cards, your talents, interests, passions, and ambitions and change the world.”

He told his classmates that it does not take giant accomplishments to make a difference.

“Small drifts create hills and move mountains,” he said. “You hold the power of change.”

Salutatiorian Sam Buswell, son of Marianne and Randall Buswell of Brandon, echoed Gallo’s remarks.

“By making small contributions to our community and utilizing the skills that we have learned over the past six years,” Buswell said, “we will be able to create a brighter future.”

Buswell has a long list of accomplishments already, as well. A member of the National Honor Society, he received the Yale Book Award as a junior and has taken all three of Otter Valley’s AP classes; Chemistry, Biology, and Literature, as well as the most advanced courses that are available, including all five levels of OV’s Spanish classes.

The graduating class is now ready to head off into the world but they will always hold a place in each other’s heart.

“What I have appreciated about this senior class has been their camaraderie, thoughtfulness and team spirit,” Lori Robear, OV’s director of guidance said. “There are also a number of resilient individuals in this class. They have had to endure numerous personal obstacles to be counted in the class of 2019.”

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