Valedictorian reflects on high school career

She didn’t choose the valedictorian life. The valedictorian life chose her. Senior Rochelle Forni never set ranking first as a goal. Nevertheless, on May 30 she will give the valedictory address and lead her fellow seniors into the next exciting phase of their lives.

“You don’t even get your first rank until halfway through sophomore year, and since I didn’t take an AP [class] freshman year, the whole time I was like, ‘I’m probably number 60,’” Rochelle said. “Then they released [the class ranks] and I was way higher than that.”

Strangely enough, grades were never that important to Rochelle, yet that’s the very reason she was able to succeed.

“I was mostly just focused on the learning behind it — not the grade you see in Skyward but what lies behind it,” Rochelle said. “And I think because I was so focused on processes and understanding, the grades just kind of came.”

It helps that Rochelle is very interested in the classes she’s taking and likes the material and teachers. Still, although she likes the subject matter in all of her classes, she, like the rest of the student body, is not immune to getting extremely bored at times.

“I have many moments when I don’t feel like studying,” Rochelle said. “It’s usually when I either have a ton to do or when what I have to do is not particularly interesting to me; it just feels like busy work. But I understand that busy work is sometimes what you need to actually make sure you understand. To fix that, it’s OK to take a study break. It’s OK to play a game of 2048.”

And when it comes to being bombarded with endless hours of homework every day, Rochelle knows that motivation is key.

“I’m an inspirational quote person,” Rochelle said. “I wrote in Sharpie all over my iPad case with tons of my favorite quotes. They’re motivational and I always keep myself in that frame of mind.”

Learning is just one of Rochelle’s many passions. She is currently co-president of Mu Alpha Theta, the Honorary Advisor of Latin Club, and a nationally ranked competitive water skier. She took 17th Overall at the 2013 National Championships and will compete again in August this year. With a resume like that, it’s no surprise that she was accepted to and will be attending Princeton in the fall. One would assume giving the valedictory address would be quite easy for her, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“I tell myself [I’m not nervous], but honestly, yeah [I am],” Rochelle said. “I’m going to be in front of the entire graduating class and they’re expecting me to have a really good speech.”

Rochelle has been working with her English teacher, Melissa Dupre, to construct the speech and is still in the brainstorming phase.

“So far I’ve only drafted ideas, just off the top of my head, what I want to tell [everyone],” Rochelle said.  “I think the hardest part about writing a speech is not only wanting everyone to be able to relate to it, but also wanting it to be yours. You want it to be uniquely you.”