SOUTHINGTON — Noah Richert, a lifelong town resident with a background in sports, is the valedictorian for the graduating class of 2023 at Southington High School.
Richert will be attending Messiah University in Pennsylvania to study electrical engineering. Having picked up skills in digital electronics through Project Lead The Way (PLTW), he enjoyed the experience of working with his hands and figuring out how devices worked.
“I never really expected to be towards the top. I mean, I’ve always worked hard and that’s something my parents taught me from a young age. So always in school, I’ve just been giving it my best,” Richert said.
Richert goes hiking and fishing often, though skiing is his biggest interest all the way from elementary school. He was on both the Southington High and Mount Southington race teams. He will continue to race competitively in college and will coach races at a local mountain near campus.
As a member of PLTW, a pre-engineering program at SHS, Richert afforded an outlet to really engage with a field of interest more than other classes would have allowed.
Ethan Giordano was named the class salutatorian.
The pandemic made for a challenging and unconventional experience for Giordano, Richert and the entire 2019 freshman class. Schools had to shut down and quickly shift to virtual and hybrid learning. But they managed to overcome the challenges and approach the experience with a positive outlook.
To SHS Principal Michael Crocco, both are model students for this year’s graduating class.
“These two young gentlemen exemplify and are actually models for a lot of our students here at Southington High School. They’re great kids, they’ve accomplished a lot,” Crocco said, “Despite the challenges that they had, they rose up, they found ways to get to where they needed to be. They found ways to participate in skiing and they found ways to get through their Project Lead The Way program. I think that’s a valuable lesson for all of our students. They’ve had some challenges, but I think that we should celebrate the fact that they’ve overcome them and now they’re coming through and they’re graduating.”
Crocco emphasized that the rest of the student body has also performed exceptionally well, and hoped Richert and Giordano could serve as examples to the community for how the rest of the class has performed in the face of adversity.
Both wished to share parting words of wisdom with their class of 485 graduates ahead of the ceremony, which will take place on June 14th at 5:30 p.m. at the high school.
“It really doesn’t matter, comparing yourself to others,” said Richert. “I think what’s more important is if you’re doing your best, and I think any high school student that’s entering in and they want to end up with a good career, as long as they’re working hard and giving their best effort, I think it’ll turn out well for them. I think it’s important as well not to sacrifice relationships or friendships because it can feel like maybe schoolwork is the most important thing at the time, but the friendships are very valuable too.”
“You need to find a balance for everything because if you get too into your schoolwork or if you get too into anything, you’re just going to get frustrated,” Giordano said. “And especially when things aren’t going your way. Like if you perform poorly on an assignment or in sports, if you have like a poor race for me and track, you need to find balance and you need to find something that will keep you happy. I feel like you need a good mindset as well, because if you think that you’re gonna do poorly on something, you will do poorly. But if you have a good mindset, things might go bad, but you also are setting yourself up for success.”
Giordano will be attending the University of Connecticut next year to study chemical engineering. He is aiming toward a potential career in pharmaceuticals, having been taken by chemistry, math, and science — looking for a path that would allow him to apply those skills to his everyday life. Giordano does a lot of running, participating in cross country while also having played soccer during his first two years of high school. This year he qualified for the New Balance Nationals for his performance on the indoor track, which he remembered as one of the highlights of his high school career.