June is high-school graduation season. Standing at the head of the class at North Kingstown High is Sarah Andrews and at Seekonk High Matt Salit. Last fall, I wrote about them as two of the 12 national finalists for the Wendy’s High School Heisman. Friday night, they will cap their high school careers with valedictory addresses, so here is an update.
“I am so excited,” Sarah said about the ceremony at the Ryan Center at the University of Rhode Island. At North Kingstown High she was a soccer captain, swimmer, track athlete and band member. She launched a mentoring program between varsity and junior varsity soccer players, taught Spanish and music to special needs students and turned her birthday parties into fundraisers for the Domestic Violence Center. She is a member of the National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society and recipient of other academic and community service awards.
Reflecting on her sports career, she mentioned people, not scores. “The most memorable parts of my athletic experience were my friends and coaches. I love my teammates and have made so many wonderful friends through athletics,” she wrote in an email. “Also, teams have taught me leadership skills and communication skills necessary in everyday life. Athletics also motivates me to lead a healthy lifestyle in and out of season.”
Sarah will attend the University of Michigan and hopes to play trombone in the Wolverines marching band, “a different type of physical and mental exertion.” Her audition is next week. “Depending on whether I make the band, I might look to play club soccer and other activities.”
Either way, she is “looking forward to going to such a large new school to meet people with different backgrounds and perspectives.”
Matt is one of the Salit Triplets in Seekonk High’s Class of 2015. Brothers Timmy and Brian will march with him. They were all-conference in cross-country and track and qualified for Massachusetts State Championships. They were co-captains in both seasons. Last year they ran on the 4x800 relay that broke the school record.
Matt is a Coca Cola Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club and the Peer Helping Network. He served on the student council. Timmy is a Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholar. Brian is the Massachusetts recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
The Salit brothers received the 2014 National Jefferson Award for Public Service for their effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The death of a track athlete from New Bedford in a distracted driving accident motivated them.
Matt, Timmy and Brian have competed with each other all their lives, but they are also each other’s biggest cheerleaders. “I know they would agree with me when I say that I want them to succeed just as much as I want to. We work as a team and would never leave one another behind,” Timmy said.
“We are definitely competitive in our daily lives but always the first people to cheer each other on,” Brian added. “Many times in track when we race together we will create a game plan so that each of us can benefit from the other and ultimately have success s a team and individuals. Our competitiveness has certainly contributed to our success as we always have to drive to complete and exceed our goals.”
Matt is bound for the University of Virginia and its academically elite Echols Scholar Program. He plans to study finance and run on the club cross-country team. Timmy is heading to Fairfield University as a Magis Scholar and plans to run track. His sister Jen graduated from Fairfield last month. Brian will attend Bryant University on track and merit scholarships.
College will mark the first time they are apart.
“We are three best friends, and it’s weird to imagine life without them. However, I am just as excited about my own college experience as I am to hear about theirs,” Timmy said.
“We are extremely close, and it will be a huge adjustment to go to different schools,” Matt wrote in an email. “However, we know that college will be an opportunity to grow as individuals so we thought it was important to go to different schools.”
“It will be a major adjustment not to have each other around every day. We have always done everything together,” Brian said. College, he added, “will be a new start and the first time truly being an individual as I will not have bothers or cousins to be compared to.” Seekonk salutatorian Patrick Gregorek and Kevin Mullen are cousins.
Brian wrote that “coming from a very small and close community, it will be extremely eye-opening and great to live in a diverse community and expand my circle of friends.”
But that’s in the fall. Now they will celebrate the end of an era. As Timmy wrote, “It’s certainly an exciting time in the Salit household!”