Focus Important for Montville's Salutatorian
Alexandra Hartley: 'It's just excitng to graduate.'
- Name: Alexandra Hartley, 17, is the salutatorian of the 2011 graduating class from Montville Township High School. “It’s just exciting to graduate, in general, no matter what. Whether you’re first in the class, second in the class, or last in the class, you still made an amazing accomplishment by graduating,” Hartley said. “It’s just really exciting to finally be graduating and going to college.” Hartley discovered her class rank her sophomore year of high school. “When I found out I was really, really surprised,” she noted. “Actually, completely floored. Then, over time, it’s become less surprising. But it’s been a lot of work to hold onto. Especially junior year, so I was pretty surprised, actually.”
- Favorite Thing about Montville: “Our marching band is really cool,” said Hartley, who has lived in Montville for six years. “The performing arts department is really great. That’s probably my favorite thing.” Hartley added: “Some of the teachers at the high school are really incredible.” Hartley has enjoyed getting to know her teachers. “It’s important to develop a relationship with them,” she said. “You really cannot get that anyplace else.”
- Recent Ranking Controversy: Montville Township High School suffered a computer breech during the 2010-2011 school year. The hacking targeted the class rankings of next year’s senior class. “To be honest, I was kind of mad,” said Hartley. “I’ve worked hard for my grades, honestly. I’ve been fine being ranked number two. It doesn’t bother me at all. Why would someone else want to be number one so badly that they’d do something illegal?” The incident spurred Hartley into action and inspired her to join the school’s task force on eliminating cheating. “If you do your best then it shouldn’t matter to you whether you are ranked number 30 or number 3. What really matters is that at the end of the day you can look back and say, ‘I did my best. I didn’t cheat. I did everything honestly. I’ve tried my hardest.’”
- Something She would like Montville to Change: The integrity task force presented its findings last week on initiatives and goals to reduce cheating in the high school. “We’ve had some cheating issues in the high school, so that’s definitely something I’d like to get changed,” the salutatorian said. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like to see changed in the high school. Not to make the high school less competitive, but to make the high school less competitive among the individual students. Less cut throat. Ways to decrease the amount of cheating in the high school.”Hartley would also like to see Montville build a movie theatre. “I think it would be nice if we had more of a town center, for kids to hang out. There are not really a lot of places around the high school we can hang out, and after a while hanging out at the library gets boring.”
- Favorite Classes: “Ms. Robinson’s AP US History 2, and English class with Mrs. Cooper, both freshman and senior year,” are among Hartley’s favorite classes of all time. “Mrs. Cooper has a really refreshing way of approaching the subject. She makes us feel like equals. She treats it like it’s a college class, and it’s incredible.” In general, history and english are Hartley’s favorite subjects. Math, on the other hand, she finds “very repetitive.” While that has helped Hartley do well in the subject, the process is boring to her. “It’s either really boring, or really challenging,” she said. “There’s just no in between with math.”
- Advice: For Hartley, studying is the key to graduating second out of 329 graduates. “I’ve spent a lot of time studying,” she noted. “When I study I focus on what I’m doing.” Hartley stays off Facebook while studying, and does not watch much TV. “If I’m doing something for fun, it’s generally reading. And it always has been. I love to read, and so, I think that’s a major part in academic success.” Hartley said she often studied on Friday or Saturday nights. “For me it’s just been very focused studying…and I think that made a difference.”
- Activities: In addition to studying, Hartley has participated in many school and community activities. The Montville Township High School marching band is among her favorites. “Freshmen year we won States, and Northern States, and that was just incredible,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that night. It was a reaffirmation of how hard work can be paid off.” Hartley also joined the History Club at the National History Day competition this year. In addition, she is a member of Science Club, Science Olympiad, the Drama Club, and National Honor Society. “I also did an independent project interviewing veterans. Which I thought was really fun,” said Hartley. She volunteers at the VFW and The Barn Theatre. “My entire family is involved with The Barn,” she added.
- College: Hartley will attend William and Mary in the fall. “It has a very good history department, and has a reputation for being a ‘nerd’ school,” She noted. “People who are interested in history, interested in politics and government, interested in service go there. People who are interested in changing the world. I just thought it was a great fit.” It is also in colonial Williamsburg, a town Hartley loves. “I’m really geeky, but it’s really cool for me.”
- Most Memorable Moment: On the day she received her acceptance to William and Mary, Hartley was playing the flute in the orchestra for the 2011 spring musical, “Merrily We Roll Along.” “It’s a show about friendship. It’s about finding your place in the world. And just being young and all the potential of your future,” she said. “At the end of the show, there’s a song called ‘Our Time.’ There’s a line: ‘Someday just began.’ I remember just crying during that song, and not being able to play, because I was just so happy at the way everything was turning out that night.”
- Goals: I am doing a five year program in education, so I will be getting my masters,” explained Hartley. “Hopefully I will be getting a teaching job somewhere. I would really, ideally, like to work for a program such as Teach for America, working in a low-income school district, hopefully making an impact on my students like the teachers that I have had made an impact on me.”
- Hobbies: Reading, playing the flute and piccolo, and hanging out with friends are among Hartley’s hobbies. “I also like to write very, very, bad poetry that I never show to anyone,” she said.
- Philosophy: “Hakuna Matata.”
A transcript of the salutatorian's speech will be published Thursday on Patch.