by Geoff Fox
Alexandra Smith credits early educational opportunities and support as a few reasons she was named North Hagerstown High School’s Valedictorian for the Class of 2023. Smith is the daughter of David and Gretchen Smith of Hancock.
Smith said a lot of hard work, a lot of time doing school work and being involved in different things around the school led to her top student distinction.
She was in the NHS International Baccalaureate Program where there was a lot of support from the teachers.
“Being in that program, you’re in higher level courses, so there’s a lot more work you have to put in,” she said.
There was also an earlier head start for Smith as she attended Springfield Middle School where she took two high school math courses coming in and her language credit and technology credit carrying over.
“So I was able to take some classes earlier than others,” Smith said.
In her speech at graduation, Smith talked about taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone, soaking in the moment and taking those risks and enjoying those moments.
Between her first day of school until graduating, Smith encountered many teachers along the way.
There were many teachers throughout, but she credits a teacher at Hancock Elementary as her favorite – Laura Hose.
“We did different activities and things in that class that you didn’ t do in regular classes,” Smith said. “That was kind of like a push that led me to doing magnet in middle school and then going into high school.”
Her mom was one of her teachers.
“So that was a pretty special class,” she said.
Now that she’s graduated, Smith can look back at her high school career and give her incoming ninth grade self a little advice.
Smith said her advice would be to pursue new activities, even though she wasn’t sure about them.
Smith said she chose to do student council, something she kind of got pushed into. But, she said, she’s glad she was able to do it because it gave her “a lot of great opportunities and friends.”
“Just don’t worry about it. Just say yes and do it,” Smith said.
As for the students who will be entering the ninth grade and embarking on their high school career this August, Smith said she’d offer the same advice, but also not to put themselves in a box or anything.
“Let yourself experience the different opportunities there are – the different clubs, different programs your school has – and just be open to new opportunities,” she said.
When she begins her college career this fall, Smith will become a Knight, as she will be attending Arcadia University outside Philadelphia.
Smith said she will be studying Political Science with a concentration on International Affairs.
“I’ve been interested in that stuff for a while and it just kind of seemed like the right thing,” she said.
That interest started in middle school and continued through high school.
Smith picked Arcadia because of their “really good” study abroad programs. The college also has a lot of different opportunities for people in the Social Sciences field and Political Sciences and International Affairs programs as well with hands on opportunities at the local, state, national, or even international levels.