Four students climbed to the top of the academic mountain for the Class of 2017.
Katlin Brantley and Peter Veltigian earned valedictorian honors, while Ethan Cutler and Solomon Long were named the salutatorians.
Brantley is the daughter of Diane and David Brantley, of Oxford.
Graduating with a grade point average (GPA) of 4.239, Brantley was a sideline and competitive cheerleader throughout high school. She also served as a member and vice president of the Oxford chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) and participated in Oxford High’s Link Crew, choir and Literature Club.
Brantley gave a speech during the graduation ceremony and it was an experience she described as one of her “stand-out moments” in high school.
“It was amazing to look out at a crowd of faces that I grew up with and I hope I remember that feeling forever,” she said.
Throughout her time at OHS, Brantley said social studies teachers Jacob Trotter and Kathryn Blaszczykwere influential in guiding her to success.
“They take an interest in the students they teach beyond their test scores and they treat them like human beings with legitimate feelings and goals. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the two of them and their encouragement,” she added.
Brantley advised other students to never be afraid to fail.
“If you allow yourself to be driven by a fear of failure, you’ll never allow yourself to succeed,” said Brantley.” I think we tend to limit ourselves by saying that something isn’t worth a try, but if we allow that fear to guide our choices in life, we’ll never achieve our best potential.”
She received several scholarships, including the Presidential Academic and Alumni Award scholarships from The George Washington University.
In the fall, Brantley will attend the University of Michigan to study political science with the eventual goal of becoming a human rights lawyer.
Veltigian, son of Scott and Susan Veltigian, graduated with a 4.219 GPA.
Veltigian is an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 366. In high school, he wrestled for all four years, participating on the varsity team for his final three years.
“That team became kind of like a family to me,” Veltigian said. “It was incredible for me to go to states with them this year.”
He was on the Wildcats lacrosse team for all four years, moving up to varsity in his senior year.
He was also a member of OHS ‘I am Third’ Club and the Oxford chapter of NHS.
Veltigian said OHS math teacher Joe Swoyer helped steer him to success in school.
“He had his own teaching style. He was always willing to help you if you needed help in any way he could. He taught (me) Calculus and Calculus II and those aren’t exactly easy subjects. He was always willing to lend the best hand he could if you ever had any struggles. He is very passionate about the subject,” Veltigian said.
Veltigian had some advice for current and incoming high school students.
“(Students should) be themselves. Try everything they want to try and do their best at everything they do,” he said.
Veltigian will attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in the fall.
Ethan Cutler, the son of Stephanie and David Cutler, was one of the class salutatorians with a GPA of 4.171.
“It’s definitely something nice to be recognized for,” said Cutler.
Cutler was a soccer and lacrosse player all four years at OHS, moving up to varsity soccer and lacrosse in his junior year.
He was also a member of the Oxford NHS chapter.
Cutler also listed Trotter and Swoyer as his most influential teachers in high school.
He also had a few words of wisdom for current and incoming high school students.
“I would say that managing stress is a huge part of high school,” Cutler said. “(Don’t) let the stress take over your life because most of the time you can do it without freaking out about it. Just stay calm and that’s how you will do your best work.
He often played guitar and piano or listened to music when things became stressful.
Cutler was awarded a $1,500 merit scholarship by the University of Michigan.
He’s considering a pre-medicine course of study in Ann Arbor.
Solomon Long, who graduated with a GPA of 4.165, was the other salutatorian.
The Oxford Leader was unable to reach Long for an interview.