Valedictorian Advises Students to Start Early
Top ranked student studied about 20 hours a week.
- Name: Chris Kuo, 18, is valedictorian of the Montville Township High School’s class of 2011. On Wednesday, June 22, Kuo, and 329 fellow classmates, will graduate. As valedictorian, Kuo, who has made speeches several times during his high school career, will present one last speech to his peers. “I’m supposed to be talking about our future and what we should look forward to,” Kuo said. For two years Kuo has known he was ranked number one in his class. “I’ve always wanted to work my hardest and do my best,” Kuo explained. “So it’s nice to see the hard work paid off in this way.”
- Favorite Thing About Montville: “It’s nice and quaint,” said Kuo, who has lived in Montville for most of his life. “I think when you leave it you don’t realize all the things that are really nice and comfortable about it. It’s got some things around, but, it’s not too bustling. It’s not too crowded and it’s not completely boring either.”
- Something You Would Like to See Changed: “Personally I am not a huge fan of the weather, Kuo added. “I’m more of a warm weather person, but, I can’t really do anything about that.” If he could live anywhere, Kuo thinks North Carolina would be perfect. “It’s in the south, but its close enough to the north where I could still get a little taste of both and just come up when I need to.”
- Favorite Classes: Kuo likes business, accounting and marketing, but “I also like statistics, biology and chemistry,” he said. “I like a lot of things, really.” Kuo’s least favorite subject is English. “I think it’s a little subjective, especially when it comes to writing. You never really know who you have to please and how you’re going to do it unless it is a creative style where you can really not get it wrong, no matter how you write it.”
- Advice: According to Kuo, the secret to getting good grades is to “just start everything early." Throughout high school, Kuo studied roughly 20 hours each week. "Everything turns out well if you have a lot of time in advance just to make sure that you can catch up on all the mistakes that come along. Because there are always those curve balls that come and hit you and you don’t want to be struck with a big problem at the last minute.”
- Activities: In addition to studying and earning the top spot in the class of 2011, Kuo volunteers for the American Cancer Society, and served as Treasurer on the MTHS Student Council. “We just really work as a team,” noted Kuo of the Student Council members. “That was really nice because I got to plan all of our big events like prom and our banquets.” In addition, Kuo was active in the business clubs of DECA and Future Business Leaders of America [FBLA], which allowed him to travel to Louisville, KY, and Orlando, FL for competitions. “They were both really great in their own ways,” Kuo said of the two cities, “But Orlando just had so much more to see.” Kuo also played on the Montville tennis team. Tennis, a sport that Kuo has enjoyed since he was 12, is something that “I do that all the time,” he said. “It’s one of the things that I really liked. Just to get out there and be competitive somewhere else besides school. It was a good outlet for me.”
- Most Memorable Moment: “There are so many. I don’t think I could pick one standout moment. A lot of things that have happened to me, I have been really thankful and happy,” Kuo said. “I don’t think I could choose anything over any other event. It’s been good.”
- Recent Ranking Controversy: This year Montville Township High School was the victim of a computer hacking incident designed to alter grades and potentially change the class rankings of top students. According to Kuo, the incident “affected the grade below” him. “I think some people came to realize that maybe this competitiveness isn’t as good as they originally thought it was,” Kuo said. “But, I still think that it’s good to be able to work up to something like a higher rank to show that you really tried hard during high school."
- College: Though Kuo hasn’t firmly decided, he is considering a major in finance. The graduate will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. “I had to stick with what I thought was a good match for me,” Kuo said of his choice “One of the things I definitely looked for in a college was somewhere that I really hadn’t been before. I really wanted to go far away and travel and expand my knowledge of the world…The people there really just knew how to act well…They really reached out to me. They had a lot of communication and made me feel like they really cared…Every single person I’ve talked to loved going there after they were done. They were all telling me about how everyone is nice to each other… At Notre Dame it was just a different type of feeling.”
- Goals: “I just know that I want to be a type of person that gets recognized in the future,” Kuo said. While the student admits that he is unsure of what path he ultimately hopes to follow, he acknowledges that, “Regardless of what I am doing I want to have my name out there and maybe someone would remember me for doing something.”
- Hobbies: “I really like exercising in general,” explained Kuo, who recently took up running as a hobby. In addition to tennis, he also enjoys hanging out with his friends, and spending time with his family. “Especially now,” he noted. “Knowing that I’ll probably have less time with them in the future.”
- Philosophy: “I always think that you should be better than you were the day before. Because I think that’s a good way to make sure you are always consistently improving. And, the sky really is the limit. You can never really be perfect. So, if you just keep working towards that I think you’ll just keep getting better and better.”
A transcript of the valedictorian's speech will be published Thursday on Patch.