Tooley, Weeden top Granville students

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Granville High School's 2021 valedictorian, Jenna Tooley, and salutatorian, Tiernan Weeden.

With leadership, awareness, self-confidence and prideful moxie, Jenna Tooley and Tiernan Weeden will be crossing the historic steps at Granville High School on June 25 at 6 p.m. as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Both individuals claim they went through a maturity process in their four years through high school and are honored to garner the lengthy list of accomplishments they have in a short time.

“Honestly, quite an honor, I’m super excited,” Tooley said. “This year has been a lot different with COVID and everything…”

For Weeden, it’s more of a feeling of satisfaction of proving doubters wrong.

“It’s about proving a point that color isn’t a factor,” Weeden said. “You can still achieve success in your life with those obstacles.”

Tooley and Weeden were heavily involved in the process of designating Granville as a “No Place for Hate” school in their senior year by working with principal Lisa Meade on events addressing dress code, ableism and an art gallery promoting inclusion and diversity.

Meade was touched by the level of prose and willingness to be involved by the duo as they left a “positive impact on culture” at the high school, especially with the ableism project, as the two don’t have any disabilities but wanted to become well-rounded with understanding how people on the other side feel.

“They took the initiative so personally and took those kids under their wing and really learned a lot from it,” Meade said. “They’ve been the perfect kids to be the principal of. I could not be prouder of the two of these individuals.”

Tooley spent a lot of her time on sports teams, in National Honor Society, student council, class office and with “P.S. I Love You Day”. She was also involved in the review of the district’s Code of Conduct.

“Just being involved in my community and being a leader… I think it’s important to voice your opinion,” Tooley said.

Weeden has spent the majority of his senior year with the New York Civil Liberties Union and with “No Place for Hate” which he says embodies “one common goal of passion.”

“I don’t think there’s enough focus on the human being,” Weeden said.

By zoning in on human rights and basic needs, Weeden envisions himself becoming a “universal positive change agent” after his plan of going to Cornell University for pre-law. This comes despite not really having a “sense of purpose or direction” in his freshman year.

Tooley will be attending UCLA for political science and possibly economics with the hopes of pre-law as well. She wants to study abroad and get her Master’s degree at some point as well.

“This year, I was able to figure out what I was passionate about and what I want to do,” Tooley said.

“I don’t really think of myself as an individual,” Weeden said. “I’d rather be remembered for the agenda I pushed forward… a genuinely good human being pushing initiative forward.”

Tooley emphasized learning the importance of mental health while she was at Granville, whether it was someone else’s or her own.

“It’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes,” Tooley said. “For me, I’d rather be remembered as the student who advocated for the student body.”

Meade couldn’t help but chime in to say that Granville and nearby communities are safe with bright-minded individuals like Tooley and Weeden possessing the reins.

“When you are at that age and you’re already making change, we’re in really good hands,” Meade said.

As for the graduation commencement and festivities surrounding it, NYVT Media was able to receive an update from Laura Colombo and Kate Becker.

The current plan is to hold the graduation ceremony on the front lawn in front of the steps of the high school with everyone continuing to follow social-distancing and COVID-19 protocols. This involves mask-wearing, but a new announcement may be made before graduation as restrictions continue to loosen.

“I think that we are trying to bring it to as regular as possible under COVID restrictions,” Becker said.

There will be a 500-person maximum occupancy, but Colombo and Becker feel this will not be an obstacle as 91 seniors will be receiving their diplomas.

The “senior song” will be brought back on graduation night and the “senior breakfast” will be held at Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House on June 11, followed by a picnic and a class picture on the front lawn of the high school.

“I think the district and the students have been patient with the pandemic since last March,” Colombo said. “We’re in the home stretch.”