There was a three-way tie for the title of salutatorian among Oxford High School’s 2016 graduating class. All three salutatorians graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
The first student is Nickolas Hershman, son of Lee and Teresa Hershman of Oxford. When Hershman was not studying, he played varsity lacrosse for two years and was an editor at the school newspaper. He also served as a catechist at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion.
While many experiences stood out to him throughout his time in high school, Hershman said participating in the Boys State program held by the American Legion last summer was one of his best. Activities in the program included mock legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, and assemblies. He said, “That was a pretty cool experience. I was nominated by my school. There (were) two of us chosen to go and I was one of them. I was elected by one of my social studies teachers who said I demonstrated leadership and an interest in government and they thought I’d be a good candidate to represent Oxford.”
OHS Math Teacher Joe Swoyer was his favorite teacher in school. “He was just a great teacher and a great guy,” he said. Hershman said that he was excited to be named as one of the 2016 salutatorians of OHS. “It’s a great honor and I think it shows all the hard work I’ve put in throughout high school,” he said.
Hershman was the recipient of the Helen Smith Scholarship from the American Legion. In the fall, he plans to attend the University of Michigan to study pharmacy. Eventually, Hershman said he plans to either go into research and development of pharmaceuticals or work in a clinical setting.
To younger students, Hershman had this to say, “My best advice would probably be to work hard in school, but don’t forget to just enjoy it, too,” said Hershman.
The second student named a 2016 salutatorian is Hannah Long, daughter of Cathy and Chris Long of Oxford. In school, Long was involved in varsity cross-country and varsity track. As a senior, she served as captain for both sports. She was also secretary of the National Honor Society.
Long also listed Swoyer as her most inspirational teacher at OHS. “His approach to learning had you kind of teach yourself and that is probably the most beneficial thing that I’ll use in college is being able to manage my own time, teach myself the lessons, and then that’s honestly how I did the best in his class,” Long said.
She said the final day of school was the moment she would remember the most from high school. “Everything was coming to a close and we got to watch a slide show and we had the paint fight and got our caps and gowns and it all just kind of hit home for me that this is the end. It was just a really nice way to end the school year,” she said.
As one of the top five students in the class of 2016, Long had advice for the schoolmates she leaves behind – “I would say just to work hard and manage your time effectively so that you can not only participate in school work but to also branch out into extracurricular (activities) because the balance of those two is what’s really going to help keep you a well-rounded individual and set you up for success in college,” she said.
Long plans to attend Grand Valley State University in the fall to study biochemistry and premedical. She plans to attend medical school in the future. She has received several scholarships through GSVU, including the Presidential Scholarship and the Award for Excellence Scholarship.
The final salutatorian of the OHS class of 2016 is Bradley William Vandecar, son of Jeanne and Richard of Oxford. Throughout his four years in high school, Vandecar was involved in track and cross-country, moving up from junior varsity to varsity in his senior year for both sports.
His time in cross-country also led to one of his most stand-out memories in high school.
“My favorite memory was running regionals my sophomore year for cross-country. It was special because going in no one thought we would amount to anything, but our bond was so strong that we managed to pull together for it. It also qualified us to run state (competition) as a result,” he said.
Vandecar also listed Swoyer as his favorite teacher from high school. “He taught me how to teach myself and how to ask questions. He really prepared me to be an individual learner,” he said.
Vandecar said there are a few things students should keep in mind throughout their time in high school.
“Remain dedicated and don’t lose sight of your future because if you fall behind now, you’ll pay later on. Also, be sure to be involved in things outside of school so you can stay well-rounded,” Vandecar said.
In the fall, Vandecar plans to attend Oakland University for biochemistry. He would like to become a neurosurgeon.