Editor’s note: The Telegram traditionally publishes stories about the top two students in the graduating class of each of the five school districts we cover. For the past several years, officials in the St. Regis Falls school district asked if we would be open to letting their valedictorian and salutatorian tell each other’s stories.
What follows are portraits of Calista Fraser and Leah Wheeler, written by Wheeler and Fraser, respectively.
Calista Fraser is the valedictorian of the St. Regis Falls Class of 2020. She is the daughter of Larry and Cyndi Fraser. She plans on attending SUNY Canton in the fall..This is what Leah had to say about her.
Calista and I have known each other since we stepped foot into the kindergarten classroom in 2007. Through the years, our friendship has greatly blossomed due to the fact that we both always played sports together, beginning in the fourth grade when we joined the Little Saint’s Basketball Team that her father coached. For as long as I can remember, Calista –– or Cally as we all call her –– has been a total genius in every subject one can imagine. Her motivation, drive and interpersonal skills became more and more evident as we aged and greatly helped her and everyone around her on and off the field. These skills also aided her in attaining the captain status of the basketball and soccer team from freshman year all the way to senior year, and captain of the softball team her freshman year.
Calista was awarded Section X First Team All Northern for soccer and has been playing for 14 years. She received the Section X Scholar Athlete award as well as the Section X Sportsmanship Award. Cally also was an Augsbury/North Country Award recipient, SUNY Canton Leadership Award, Clarkson University Leadership Award, and the Clarkson School Scholars Award.
As the Class of 2020 treasurer, we all already know that Calista’s math skills are absolutely amazing. She even admits to loving the subject and plans to continue her love by attending SUNY Canton in the fall and taking mechatronics, which is a type of engineering where she will learn how to create affordable prosthetics. Calista also enjoys teaching other students how to use the school’s 3D printer and CNC router. She put her knowledge of the 3D printer to good use during this pandemic by printing face shields for local hospitals through the Northern New York 3D Printing Network.
Not only is she brilliant, but Calista is also the most caring and compassionate person I’ve ever met. She often involves herself in working church dinners and volunteering at the local Vacation Bible School. She is very active in the community in multiple ways, including the St. Regis Falls American Legion, St. Regis Falls Volunteer Fire Department, Trinity United Methodist Church through working Fourth of July dinners, and participating in the American Legion Oratorical Speech Contest.
She also volunteered her time alongside her dad to build, layout, and maintain the sports fields at both the Sportsman’s Club and Towers’ Fields.
Cally also works as a lifeguard at the local beach and teaches swim lessons to children and could be seen every day in school helping out with the kindergarten gym class.
Lastly, the reason that I will forever think of Calista as the most caring person I will ever be lucky enough to meet is because if anybody is ever having a tough time with anything, she will do anything in her power to make it better. Whether it be making them a fun little gift basket, hugging it out, or sending them a care package while they’re at work, Calista will do anything to make someone else smile.
No matter what Cally does, she does it well and ensures that any party involved is being treated fairly. She’s extremely family oriented and has stated that her older sister has been her role model for years.
Her family is extremely supportive of all of her endeavours, whether it be athletics or academics.
Growing up with somebody like Calista by your side really shows you what it’s like to have a true friend, one that no matter what obstacle comes your way you know she will help you. Having someone like her also shows you to really appreciate those around you, especially in times like the coronavirus pandemic. Our last day of school together, I remember Calista’s and my final softball practice together when we played King of the Hill and I cheered her on for doing so well.
Calista has excelled at any challenge put in front of her and I cannot wait to see what she does since I know it will be amazing. Thank you, Cally, for the past 13 years of laughter, sports, funny handshakes, giving me food, listening, and being one of the best people I have ever been lucky enough to meet.
Leah Wheeler is the salutatorian of the St. Regis Falls Class of 2020. She is the daughter of Tim and Lisa Wheeler. She plans on attending SUNY Oswego in the fall. This is what Calista had to say about her.
Leah and I have been friends for many years, playing alongside each other on the sports fields, sitting next to each other in classes, and making many memories together. I got to see Leah’s leadership and teamwork skills grow as she was captain of the basketball team for four years, softball team for two years, and captain of the school’s varsity soccer team her senior year.
Our friendship grew tremendously while we played sports together, always being each other’s throwing partner and even declaring ourselves the “Double Trouble” in basketball. Leah always made sure that her teammates were having fun while practicing, never thinking twice when it came to helping out a fellow teammate –– thus making her a Section X Scholar Athlete for three years and earning her the Section X Sportsmanship award for two years.
Throughout all the years I’ve known her, it was clear to see that she is ambitious in all her endeavours and is never afraid to take charge, which aided her in her position as the National Honor Society’s, Class of 2020’s and Adventure Club’s vice president. She also never backs down from a challenge, even if that means chugging her full water bottle during the middle of English class on a dare.
She also used her leadership skills during the summer when she became a counselor at 4-H Camp Overlook. 4-H camp has been a huge part of Leah’s life for 10 years, always being a fun place to spend her summers making friends and trying new things.
Leah’s humor, enthusiasm, and kindness have allowed her to make lasting friendships with whomever she meets.
She used her free time to volunteer at the food pantry, book fairs, blood drives, school Read-A-Louds, the school store, and various nonschool events such as the Harborfest in Oswego. With all her volunteering time, Leah still managed to be studious in school and help out other students whenever she got the chance, always thanking her family, friends and teachers for supporting her and helping her in all her endeavours.
Leah was awarded the Clarkson University High School Achievement Award, the North Country Augsbury Scholarship and the SUNY Oswego Presidential Scholarship. Her ability to understand and relate to people paired with her curiosity of humanity, have led her to pursue a major in psychology at SUNY Oswego. After graduating from college, her goals are to get a job in the counseling field where she will be able to help people. Her patience, likability, and givingness will assist her in all her future plans, allowing her to achieve any goal she sets.
Leah and I, like all the other 2020 seniors around the world, were faced with a senior year that we will never forget. There was no more braiding hair, sharing snacks, proofreading each other’s papers, telling stories, or playing sports together. Although our softball season and school year were cut short, I will never forget the memories we have made throughout the years. Some of the next few phrases I have chosen to add may confuse those that read this; however, I hope they make you laugh and bring back some memories: The lucky handshake that always made me dizzy, our number four dancing antics, “hypothermia,” our snack trips before a game or practice, and all the other hilarious memories we have made.
So as we both head off to college, I wish my basketball buddy, World Literature partner, softball buddy and most importantly my friend the best of luck.