Valedictorian and Salutatorian Winners

Most students who want to be successful after high school strive for good grades in order to pave the path for a good future. These students aim to have straight A’s in order to keep their career options open. The titles of Valedictorian and Salutatorian are hard to achieve, but achieving them increases the chance to get into a good college and earn a multitude of scholarships. 

These titles have a significant and impactful meaning that represents students’ hard work and dedication to their academic careers. Students who earn these awards show what they are capable of achieving. Four students at Lakeland High School earned these honorable titles after four years of consistent hard work. 

Lakeland’s 2023 valedictorians are Cody Morse and Berklie Ogieglo. Both showed a great amount of effort throughout all four years of high school, and it paid off in the end, as they get to move forward in life with the highest title achievable in high school. Though this is an important award, it was not a goal from the beginning for Cody Morse. 

“It was never a main goal coming into high school. I was not sure what I wanted to pursue after I graduated, but I knew I wanted to get into a good college. I made sure I always had straight A’s,” Morse said. 

Academics are important in the acceptance of a good college, but this is not all that is looked at. They often look for a well-rounded student. Morse is a two-sport athlete, playing both football and track. This forced him to figure out how to balance school and outside activities, which can be difficult when striving for such a high GPA. 

“I made sure not to spend all my time focusing on school; I still wanted to have fun,” Morse said.

Though Morse ended his high school career as valedictorian, he admits he did not always try so hard with assignments, which is why he had extra time to enjoy other activities. “If I’m being honest, I did close to the minimum amount of work. Although, I didn’t take any risks and still made sure I got all A’s,” Morse said. 

With that being said, Morse admitted he knew the criteria for being valedictorian and knew he was on the high honor roll, but the news was still a shock. Morse plans to use this achievement to get scholarships that will help him in college as he works towards a career in engineering. 

The other hardworking student who earned this title is Berklie Ogieglo. Ogieglo had always hoped she could be valedictorian. However, she never explicitly set that goal for herself coming into high school because she felt it added unnecessary pressure. Despite not having valedictorian as a direct goal, Ogieglo worked extremely hard for the grades she earned. 

“I’d even go as far as to say that I prioritized my grades too much,” Ogieglo said. She admits she struggled with balancing everything as an underclassman, but it only got easier. 

Ogieglo’s hard work paid off as she earned the title she was always hoped for in the back of her mind. “It means quite a lot because it shows that if I try for something hard enough, I really can get it. It shows what I am capable of achieving,” Ogieglo said. 

Ogieglo is going to Notre Dame on a full-ride scholarship to study biology and then move on to law school. “The title of Valedictorian has helped me a lot on applications to colleges and definitely made me a more competitive candidate. It helped me get into my dream school and has played a big part in my future,” Ogieglo said. 

The hard work of Audrey Gibson and Carly Mcintosh does not go unnoticed. Gibson and Mcintosh earned the award for 2023 LHS class salutatorians. 

“Being Valedictorian was not a goal of mine coming into high school but eventually was towards the end of my sophomore year,” Gibson said. 

She plays soccer and tennis for LHS and is on the student council. This, along with her academic career, forced her to quickly learn to balance it all. “I always made sure I was getting homework done on time and avoiding procrastination,” Gibson said. Gibson was very thankful for being salutatorian and was both happy and upset when she found she had won salutatorian. 

“I was excited but also disappointed because I didn’t get valedictorian. I knew I had lost Valedictorian when I got a B in one of my classes, but being salutatorian will still help me after graduation,” Gibson said. She is going to college to study biology and focus on a career in orthodontics. 

“Being salutatorian has helped me get a lot of scholarships and avoid a bunch of student loan debt in my future,” Gibson said. 

Mcintosh’s efforts do not go unnoticed, as it is well-known that hard work is mandatory to achieve such a high academic title.

All four of these students, Morse, Ogieglo, Gibson, and Mcintosh, are hardworking individuals who have a lot to offer in the years to come.