RUMFORD — Mountain Valley High School valedictorian Abby LaBrash and salutatorian Alecia Bolduc said the competition for the top two spots for the Class of 2017 has been very close and competitive the past two years.

“The aspect of competition is kind of motivating and I think that it’s really special that our top 10 students have been able to kind of help each other along and not push each other down,” LaBrash said.

“It’s definitely been this huge competition the last couple of years on who’s going to get those top spots,” Bolduc said. “I really did not expect to be here, but I’ve taken a lot of college classes, which I can attribute a lot of my success to that, and I’ve had really awesome professors.”

Bolduc said “at the last moment” she unexpectedly moved into the valedictorian spot and wanted to give credit to fellow student Liza White, who “has been a tremendous student and I’ve really looked up to her the past couple years. She is right behind us in academic standing.”

Bolduc’s mother, Jenn Bolduc, is a science teacher at the high school and Alecia attributes some of her interest in science to her mother.

“I always thought I wanted to do something with science but last summer I spent time at the University of Vermont taking college classes and studying at their medical center, which was a huge influence, and it made me realize, ‘oh yes, I really do want to be a doctor,’” Alecia said.

Bolduc said her illness that began her sophomore year and recently was resolved also made her want to help other people suffering from illnesses.

“And then this fall I took classes with Dr. Anne Morin (in Rumford at the University of Maine at Augusta) and she’s just an outstanding professor,” Bolduc said. “She just really motivated me to want to be a woman in science. She was one of the first women scientists in this country to actually make a difference and that really motivated me to want to do more, especially with the gender stereotypes that are placed on women.”

LaBrash attributes much of her success to her high school teachers.

“I particularly enjoyed my advanced English classes and I’ve had some really good teachers,” she said. “Probably my most challenging class but also one of my favorites is (advanced placement) history” with Chris Carver.

“He’s a great teacher,” she said. “He assigns a lot of work, which I think might be one of the reasons why we’re so successful, because you have to do (the work) and once you get used to it it’s not hard to carry that out.”

LaBrash also said high school theater director Natalie Simmons inspires her.

Being involved in music programs since her freshman year has been a highlight of LaBrash’s high school years, she said.

“I’ve been involved in the theater programs since my sophomore year; it’s definitely something I’m passionate about. One of my friends created a dance team this year so I’ve had the chance to help her out a little bit and we really enjoy doing that together.”

Bolduc also credited Carver as a great teacher and said he helped her with questions about the college admissions process and her concerns and frustrations with acceptance or rejection letters and wait lists from colleges.

“Also, my prior (middle school) Nordic ski coach Don Fuller encouraged me to apply to selective colleges and push my limitations in and outside of the classroom,” Bolduc said.

Asked about facing adversity, the two said students should not limit themselves.

“People will put pressures on you and say that you can’t do certain things, especially if you come from a rural area like Western Maine, but definitely anything is possible and (you should) just kind of put yourself out there, there’s so many opportunities,” Bolduc said.

LaBrash added, “It really is what you make it. It’s all about your mindset and your attitude. I’ve definitely had to advocate for myself. If you feel passionate about something, you’ve got to go for it.”

Bolduc earned varsity lettering in three sports in her freshman year, varsity Alpine ski team member, Peer Helpers member, and vice president of the National Honor Society. She is a Bates College high school scholar and is affiliated with the Maine Youth Leadership program, the Maine Youth Leadership Alliance, and she attended Dirigo Girls State during her junior year.

She will attend St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., as a double major in biology and psychology and she plans to be on a pre-med track with aspirations to go to medical school.

Bolduc is the daughter of Leo and Jenn Bolduc of Byron.

Labrash is a member of the National Honor Society, Peer Helpers, band, chorus, Mountain Valley High School Players theater group, the high school Dance Team and dances with Expressive Movements studio.

She will attend Colby College in Waterville and hasn’t declared a major.

She is the daughter of Andre and Jodi LaBrash of Rumford.

The Class of 2017 will graduate at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 8, in the high school auditorium.

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Mountain Valley High School Class of 2017 valedictorian Abby LaBrash of Rumford, left, and salutatorian Alecia Bolduc of Byron will graduate on Thursday, June 8, in the high school auditorium.


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