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Two friends named HVRHS valedictorian and salutatorian

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FALLS VILLAGE—This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian at Housatonic Valley Regional High School are good friends and there was no competition between them as to who would get the top spot. In fact they were cheering each other on.

Yaritza Vega of Salisbury earned the honor but she humbly acknowledges that it is just one measure of academic achievement—GPA (grade point average).

Housatonic Valley Regional High School Salutatorian Dana Saccardi of Cornwall and Valedictorian Yaritza Vega of Salisbury took a few minutes away from classes Tuesday. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

“I’ve seen there are different ways of measuring intelligence,” she said. “People are able to show their intelligence in different ways. Although I am given this title of valedictorian, it is only because of my GPA.”

Dana Saccardi of Cornwall is the salutatorian and she agrees.

“For this system of GPA, we were able to excel. If it were in a different environment, we might not have excelled as far,” Saccardi said.

They did not feel they were in competition for the top honor. “We were really hoping the other one would get it,” said Saccardi. “It was really exciting.”

“Now I can say she’s the smartest one of our group,” she said with a smile. There are 57 members of the Class of 2024 and graduation will be held June 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Vega is headed to Middlebury College in the fall where she plans to study international relations and she will minor in a language, “most probably French.”  At Housatonic she was able to participate in a school trip to Quebec, Canada, which she found to be an enriching experience.

“I like to get creative,” she said.

As a creative person, she enjoys drawing and painting. In fact, one of her paintings is prominently featured in the new art exhibit in the school library. She also enjoys helping other people and has assisted one of her neighbors pretty regularly. In terms of her athletic interests, she has played tennis and run cross country.

Vega also enjoys learning languages.

“I’ve learned French and also Korean and Thái,” she said, adding she will soon be going on a trip to Thailand.

Saccardi will enroll at the University of Connecticut next fall majoring in natural resources and minoring in hydrology. She has been active in the Agricultural Science and Technology courses and activities at HVRHS, serving on the Agricultural Committee.  She has also been a participant in Envirothon. Outside of school she likes to stay busy.

“I help out at a lot of events. The Memorial Day Fair is coming up, and I help out at church school,“ Saccardi said.

In athletic pursuits she has been active in tennis, volleyball and horseback riding.

Neither of the young women could identify one class that affected them the most, but they both agreed the teachers have been very supportive. Vega singled out Peter Vermilyea as someone who has helped her tremendously with essays, scholarships and speeches.

Both said they will remember their friends and teachers from HVRHS, but they will also remember the trips and opportunities they have been afforded as students.

“I don’t even know where I would be without this school—everything that I’ve accomplished has been through the help of others and I was willing to take that forward,” Vega said.

Lynn Worthington
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