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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 9, 2009

Wetterau wants to be a vet,
Sikule hopes to be a doctor, Willsey plans to be a teacher

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — As they leave Berne-Knox-Westerlo, the high school’s top three students look forward to becoming a veterinarian, a doctor, and a teacher.

On the morning of June 27, BKW seniors donned their caps and gowns as they walked across the stage, while their families and friends looked on. Among them were valedictorian Alyssa Wetterau, and co-salutatorians David Sikule and Denise Willsey.

Alyssa Wetterau

Wetterau said before graduation that being valedictorian was “kind of exciting, but a little scary at the same time.” The idea of speaking at graduation was a little intimidating, she said.

Wetterau will miss the closeness of BKW, she said.

“I’ll miss the fact that, if you don’t know everyone personally, you at least know their face and their name, and you’re not just a number,” Wetterau said. “It’s going to be a lot easier to get lost in the crowd and not feel like you’re part of something.”

While at BKW, Wetterau ran varsity cross country for her first two years, then switched over to soccer, where she played goalie for her last two years. She also ran varsity track for all four years.

“I have participated in high school musicals,” she added. “I was in Grease; I played Frenchie,” She was also a member of the school’s Masterminds team.

Wetterau has danced competitively outside of school for about 10 years, she said.

“I did tap, jazz, hip hop, a little ballet here and there,” she said. She will “absolutely” be dancing in college, she added.

In addition to dancing, Wetterau loves rock climbing, backpacking, traveling, acting, and kayaking.

For the summer, Wetterau will be working as a sales associate at Coldwater Creek, a women’s clothing store at Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland.

“So, I’m planning on keeping up my part-time job and seeing as much as my friends here as possible before college,” she said. She is also going to Maine for a few weeks.

In the fall, Wetterau will be attending Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for a degree in biological sciences.

“When I was little, I decided I wanted to be a vet, and that was the end of it,” Wetterau said. “They always told me, if you want to be a vet, you’ve got to go to Cornell, so I did what I had to do to get there.”

She will be the first veterinarian in her family.

David Sikule

“It feels pretty good,” Sikule said of being co-salutatorian. “It’s been a lot of hard work for the past four years.”

He, too, will miss the BKW community.

“I’m sad, but I’m also excited to get out into the world and see some different places, do different things,” he said. “I’m going to miss everyone, and I hope they miss me as well.”

As a senior at BKW, Sikule was president of the National Honor Society, and was the class treasurer for the past two years. As treasurer, he “kept track of the funds in our class,” he said. “So, all fund-raisers we have, and I sign checks for our prom, our senior gift, our picnics, and class trips.”

This summer, he will be seeing as many of his friends as possible, before attending Davidson College in North Carolina this fall.

Sikule, who scored 50 points in one basketball game this year, said he might try out for the basketball team at Davidson, but he’s got his eye on a different sport.

“If all goes well, I’ll be playing golf,” he said. “The Davidson College golf team is Division 1, so they’re pretty good.”

He is going to Davidson, he said, “Because it’s a really good liberal arts school, and I’m looking to go pre-med., so it gives me my best chance at going to med. school.”

He also looked at Wake Forest, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since his family had brought him to North Carolina every year since he was a child, it was the natural choice when he began looking at schools. Locally, he looked at Siena College and St. Lawrence University, he said.

His desire to practice medicine grew throughout high school due to his success in science classes. While there are no other doctors in the family, his sister is pursuing a medical degree at Ross University in the Caribbean.

Denise Willsey

Co-salutatorian Denise Willsey is proud to have the title.

“There’re so may people with such a high average,” Willsey said, “so, it was so awesome to hear my name called as salutatorian.”

She has mixed feelings, however, about leaving BKW behind.

“It’s kind of a relief that it’s over, but, at the same time, I’m leaving all my friends and everything I’ve ever known,” she said. “We’re a small school to start with; everybody’s real close, and I’ll miss that next year because I’ll be starting over, and, of course, the friends thing is self explanatory.”

Willsey was an editor for the school newspaper, The Bulldog Barker, helped lay out the school’s literary magazine, Pencrafts, and was part of the National Honor Society.

In her free time, Willsey likes to read, write short stories, spend time outside, and hang out with friends.

Over the summer, she will be working at Price Chopper at the 20 Mall, and, like Wetterau and Sikule, getting in some last-minute hang-out time with friends before school in the fall.

“I’m going to Saint Rose for their education major,” Willsey said. “I know I want to definitely teach younger kids; I think I want to teach pre-K and kindergarten.”

She chose Saint Rose after she and her friend, April Zwack, attended an open house and “fell in love with the atmosphere.”

Not only will Willsey be the first teacher in her family, but she is also one of the first in her immediate family to go to college.

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She will be the first veterinarian in her family.