NEWINGTON â€“ The Class of 2020â€™s highest performer encourages younger students to value their friendships above all.
Newington High School Valedictorian Fiona Duong has been finishing up her senior year from home, along with her classmates, and she misses them.
When asked what advice she has for students whose high school careers are not ending this June, Duong said this:
â€śDonâ€™t stress about how youâ€™re doing in school. Value your time with your friends. Enjoy your four years in high school. The best memories I made were all the memories I made with my friends and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m thinking about not having seen them for more than a month.â€ť
Social distancing has been tough for the teen, who is planning to head to Boston this fall to study biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
â€śHopefully everything settles down by then,â€ť Duong added of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her academic career over the last four years included taking 10 Advanced Placement courses and 12 Honors courses. The scholar was also recognized as a Rensselaer Medal Recipient, an AP Scholar with Distinction and a semi-finalist in Connecticutâ€™s Governorâ€™s Scholar program.
Extracurricular activities and clubs have also been a memorable part of her life.
Duong was elected President of the NHS Peer Tutoring Club, a position that allowed her to support her classmatesâ€™ learning. In this role she helped renovate a former computer lab at the school into a tutoring center where students can gather and work together.
â€śHer efforts, time and genuine passion for the project has had a meaningful impact on the NHS community,â€ť Board of Education members recognized in a resolution read in the Valedictorianâ€™s honor at a recent meeting.
Duong has played a leadership role in other areas as well. She was Flute Section Leader in the NHS Marching Band, Captain of the Math Team, secretary of the schoolâ€™s DECA Chapter, a member of the National Honors Society and the Key Club.
â€śMy motivation comes from my parents,â€ť she explained. â€śThey didnâ€™t go to college. They emigrated here from Vietnam in the 1990s.â€ť
Her friendships have been a real highlight of her life, but also a motivator in school. Lyla White, one of two Salutatorians in the Class of 2020, is one of Duongâ€™s best buds.
â€śWe can relate to each other and help each other out when weâ€™re slammed with school work,â€ť she said.
The Board of Education wished Duong the best of luck in her future pursuits:
â€śThereby be it resolved that the Newington Board of Education hereby extends its sincere congratulations to Fiona Duong for her outstanding achievement in academic excellence and wishes her continued success in the future.â€ť
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.