Barker, Cooper top Hartford students

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Hartford High School valedictorian Emmaline Barker and salutatorian Samantha Cooper.

Emmaline Barker and Samantha Cooper have put in the work and will be recognized on June 24 as valedictorian and salutatorian of the Hartford High School graduating class of 2022.

Barker said she felt a genuine sense of accomplishment when she was notified she would be this year’s valedictorian.

“When I had found out I was valedictorian I was so excited,” Barker said. “I had worked super hard all year in hopes that I would make it to the top and I was so glad that it had paid off. It means so much to me and I feel like it shows how much effort and time I put into my grades and schoolwork.”

Although Cooper said she was initially upset she finished second in class rank, Cooper credited the guidance and assistance of the staff at Hartford for her strong success.

“If I had to pinpoint one thing, it’s been all of my teachers giving me different bits of life advice and just being really helpful,” she said. “I tend to talk to my teachers a lot when I’ve got the time and they usually treat me as more than just a student. The teachers at Hartford are wonderful and really do care about their students and try to help them succeed.

“If I had trouble or didn’t understand something they’d gladly help me out. My teachers at higher levels have also been very helpful in preparing me for life outside of high school from anything like how to take notes best to how to do more normal things like budgeting expenses.”

Barker and Cooper were heavily involved in activities and clubs throughout their four years of high school. Barker was a scholar athlete on the cross country team and treasurer of the Key Club while Cooper was in the Art Club and All-County Chorus.

Barker plans to attend Castleton University in Vermont in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing while Cooper will be attending SUNY New Paltz and earning a degree of fine arts majoring in graphic design.

“I think the thing that shaped me that most and helped me get ready for life after high school was the hard work and time that needed to be put into making grades and that you don’t always have someone to help you get through something, like a teacher,” Barker said.

Cooper shared two pieces of advice for underclassmen rising through the ranks of Hartford’s hallways.

“My biggest pieces of advice would be: First – do that paper tonight and not in study hall tomorrow! Procrastination is the death of a healthy sleep schedule and a clear mind. Keep yourself stress free and please, please try to do things before they’re due. It really does feel better to finish that paper before it’s due,” she said.

“And second – don’t care about what others think or say about you, you are your own person and they shouldn’t try to change that. Stressing about what other people think just isn’t worth your time when you’re trying to succeed.”

Both Barker and Cooper had the unique experience of starting high school like a normal year, experiencing the remote era of instruction and finishing out the way they had intended.

Barker reflected on the lessons she learned through enduring the pandemic in her high school years and how it prepared her for the real world.

“One memory I have from high school was the day we were all told that we would not be coming back to school for the spring. The memory of being told everything was now remote and that we would be learning at home and all those new experiences really stuck with me,” Barker said. “Having to learn new ways to learn and new ways to communicate with teacher and friends was hard, but a good lesson to learn.”