BETHEL — Telstar High School’s top two students are headed to two different universities to earn degrees in the medical field.

Alyssa Brands, 17, of Woodstock is the Class of 2014 valedictorian. She plans to attend the University of Maine to study athletic training and pre-physical therapy. Her goal is to become a physical therapist. She is the daughter of Edward and Kelli Brands.

Kathryn Coolidge, 18, of Bethel is the salutatorian. She plans to attend the University of Connecticut to study pre-phamarcy, then complete requirements to become a pharmacist. She is the daughter of Patricia Coolidge and the late Victor Coolidge.

The two students are best friends and members of the National Honor Society; Coolidge is vice president and Brands is historian. They also serve on the Student Council. Brands is president and Coolidge is treasurer of the class. They also are members of the Future Business Leaders of America and provide community service through the Interact Club of the Rotary.

Brands plays track and field, basketball and soccer, and has coached soccer and basketball for elementary school students.

Coolidge has taken dance lessons for 14 years, takes singing lessons, has won the annual high school talent show and has sung the national anthem at sporting events.


Coolidge said she always tried to do her best and believes in hard work.

“I wanted to be successful and go to college and get a job I’d enjoy. I knew good grades would help,” she said.

When Brands received straight As in sixth grade, she knew she wanted to continue earning them.

She said some students have other passions, but school is her second home. She is an emancipated student since she was a sophomore. She and her parents, who live in New Jersey, get along well. But when they moved away, Brands wanted to finish her high school career at Telstar.

Coolidge works part time at the Route 2 Diner and teaches dancing during the summer to elementary school students.

“I’m definitely excited to graduate and move on, but I’ll miss everyone,” she said.


Brands works at the Suds Pub. She said she’ll also miss everyone at Telstar, but is ready to move to the next phase of her life.

Her graduation speech will focus on high school classes being like families.

“School is very important, and not just for education, but for life lessons. Don’t ever take it for granted. You’ll never get it back. Do all you can to grow and learn about yourself,” she said.

Coolidge also believes high school is what you make it.

“Take what you can get and join groups. Do your school work,” she said.

The Telstar Class of 2014 graduates June 6.

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