By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – Jaden Ababio might carry the highest grade point average out of all 229 students in her senior high school class; however, some of the most priceless lessons she learned did not come from a teacher’s lecture or a textbook, rather the everyday life of her Poughkeepsie High School setting.
“My school is so special because it is a melting pot of people; there are so many people that go here from different countries, reflected Ababio who earned the prestigious Valedictorian title with her 100.059 overall average. “It’s just so important to know there are people different from you out there, so you can have empathy, understanding and be open to different points of view; I really am not sure I would have gotten the same positive experience that I did here if I went to another high school.”
That priceless four year tenure as a proud Pioneer included four years as a Jr. ROTC member, three years in band, as well as very active involvements in Student Government along with the National Honor Society. Not afraid to take on new challenges, Ababio “wanted to learn a new skill,” and even earned a spot as one of two girls on the Boy’s Varsity Wrestling Team this past winter.
“It was a lot of fun,” recollected Ababio about the traditionally male sport participation and whose opponents were all male, making her stronger physically and mentally.
Seeds of that fortitude were planted back in ninth grade when Ababio joined the Jr. ROTC. Here, one of her “great mentors,” Chief Wagner helped instill priceless leadership and teamwork skills along with the critical nature of community service. Another mentor she is quick to cite is US History Teacher, Mr. Lawrence, who nominated Ababio for Outward Bound, a place where she further honed leadership skills, ones that would be put to great use as the end of the school year approached and the esteemed Valedictorian selection was revealed.
“I found out about being chosen at an Honor’s Breakfast; it was totally unexpected,” said the humble Ababio about the honor of having the highest GPA among her Class of 2020 members. “There were many other students who worked just as hard, if not moreso, than me, but I was extremely happy and honored to be selected.”
Always looking to the positive, Ababio realized the COVID-19 fourth quarter at-home situation was far from ideal; however, she could not have been more pleased with how her high school, and District in general, stepped up with effective on-line teaching as well as creative and unforgettable graduation offerings. In fact, her Valedictorian Speech centered upon that very concept.
“COVID 19 had some really severe effects on everyone, but we will look back on all of this and not see it all as negative, but some really good things came from it,” explained Ababio. “It really brought us all together here at the high school in some really special ways.”
Forever touched by her four amazing years at PHS, Ababio who is off to study Business Administration at Babson College in Massachusetts in the fall, has every intention of some day returning to her Alma Mater, speaking to students or helping out in some way at a place that will forever be a part of her heart. For now, her advice to future PHS graduates centers upon the gifts of wisdom she was blessed with during her Poughkeepsie school years.
“You can’t always stay positive, but it’s so important to be adaptable, so you are able to face challenges,” advised Ababio. Also, always try to be open-minded and try to see things from another person’s point of view; it’s just so important in school and life.”