CONWAY — Amy Cotter and Carson Smith have known each other since they were freshmen at Kennett High School.
They’re still friends and have shared classes over their four years at the school. The two will share center stage at KHS graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 15, at 10 a.m.
Carson and Amy, both 18, have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2019 and will deliver keynote speeches at graduation.
Carson, the son of Kelly Richardson and David Smith of Silver Lake, will head to Dartmouth College in Hanover this fall to study computer science and mathematics. His twin brother, Eric, who ranks seventh in the class, will attend the University of New Hampshire. They also have an older brother, Gregg.
Carson attended Madison Elementary School through sixth grade, then went to Kennett Middle School and on to KHS.
Amy grew up attending Josiah Bartlett Elementary School before arriving at Kennett in 2015. The daughter of Kris and John Cotter of Glen, she will head to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., this fall to study environmental science.
She has an older brother, Jake, who is a 2016 Kennett graduate, and a younger brother, Evan, who is a fifth-grader at JBES.
Both val and sal have a long list of achievements: They are members of the school's National Honor Society and foreign National Honor Societies (Carson, Spanish for four years, including president this school year; Amy, French for three years and president this year).
Carson also was in student council his junior and senior years, serving as treasurer this school year. He has been a member of Key Club since his sophomore year.
In sports, Carson did outdoor track for the Eagles for four years as a sprinter; indoor track his junior year; and played soccer both his freshman and sophomore years.
Amy was involved in school government, serving as a class representative her junior year, and was in Youth and Government her sophomore year. She has served in Key Club for four years, including as secretary her senior year.
Amy has been a member of the Axis Dance Company for four years, including being a member of the White Mountain Movement Mentoring Program as a junior and an assistant teacher at Limmer Dance Studio this past school year.
In 2018, Amy took “Best in Fair” honors at the N.H. State Science & Engineering Fair her junior year and went on to be a named a finalist at the prestigious Intel International Science & Engineering Fair that same year. She attended a summer program at N.H. Academy of Science STEM Laboratory her junior year after serving an internship for Immuno-Gen Inc. her sophomore year.
Amy was a member of the Kennett cross-country ski team her freshman and sophomore years. She was on the tennis team in her junior year.
Kennett High Principal Neal Moylan has watched the two grow and soar over the past four years and is excited to see what they do after leaving the nest.
“Carson is a wonderful, thoughtful, caring young man, who is a quiet leader with a brilliantly dry wit,” Moylan said. “He has every skill required to be a lifelong learner and tackles every new challenge before him with a smile. He has the ability to deconstruct difficult problems into smaller manageable pieces, and is able to find success in whatever comes his way.”
Moylan continued: “Amy is an incredibly motivated and mature young lady who has always gone above and beyond in the classroom, always willing to help others, and does so in a kind, unassuming way.
“When I spoke with Amy’s science teacher (Lindsay Cole), she described Amy as one of the most incredible young students she’s ever had the pleasure of teaching. She said Amy came into her classroom as a bubbly ninth-grader ready to tackle any challenge and quickly established herself as one of the best students in the class."
Moylan said her teacher explained, "I’ve had the pleasure of working with Amy three out of her four years in high school and working with Amy last year will forever be a highlight of my career.”
The graduating seniors recently sat down with The Conway Daily Sun to chat about the past, present and future.
Has it been a quick four years?
Carson: “Oh, absolutely. There’s a lot less senior year, it seems like; it flew by.”
Can you remember your first day of high school?
Carson: “Yeah, I can remember it. I got driven in by a friend’s mom and then went into the library and immediately didn’t know where to go. I was here rarely before that because I live so far away, a half-hour drive. I adapted quickly, I think.”
Amy: “I remember a few of my friends gathered at the bus stop and our moms wanted to take pictures before we got on the bus, and we really didn’t want them to.”
What made you choose your schools?
Carson: “Definitely the financial aid package and the programs that they offer.”
Amy: “Colorado College was my top school. I really wanted to be out west, and the financial aid package, too.”
When did you learn of your class rankings?
Carson: “They’ve talked about them for quite a bit, but I’d say we’ve known about them since early this year."
Did you know you were in the hunt for No. 1 and 2?
Carson: “We’ve kind of known.”
Amy: “I was third for a while, and it really wasn’t a goal of mine, but when I found out I was close, I thought, 'I have to go for it.'”
Carson: “I think I’ve been No. 1 the whole time, just about. It was definitely a goal for me.”
What have been some highlights for you over the past four years?
Amy: “My highlight would definitely be Key Club. I was the secretary this past year.
Carson: “I’ve been president of the Spanish Honor Society this past year. That’s been fun, doing fundraisers and all that.”
How do you manage your time?
Carson: “(Laughing) That’s a good question. I try to keep pretty consistent with when I go to bed and wake up. I’m generally just the type to fly by the seat of my pants. I like to put things off, but not too bad I guess.”
Amy: “I’m a huge procrastinator, (laughing) so I don’t really know how to manage my time.”
Are you working, what are you going to do for the summer?
Carson: “I’m going to be working at Tuckerman’s Brewery in Conway. I’ve worked there for the past couple of years doing packaging and all that, and I’ll work there again this summer.”
Amy: “I’m working at Zeb’s (General Store in North Conway) for the summer, and I’ve worked there for four years.”
Do you have favorite classes?
Amy: “Bio with Mrs. (Lindsay Cole). I love French, too (taught by Susan Dirubbo).”
Carson: “I’ve always been a big fan of Spanish with (Chris) Wong. I’ve had him for the past three years, and I love his classes. And computer science with Mr. (Daniel) Richardi, which is always fun.”
How are the speeches coming along? Have you started?
Carson: “I’ve started mine.
See, you’re not procrastinating.
Carson: “I got a bit of an early start, not much of one."
Are we going to have a serious tone or a little comedic relief?
Carson: “I really don’t want to do a serious piece on graduation. I think the last thing people need on graduation is something serious but I don’t want to try to make it too funny."
Amy: “(Laughing) Now, I feel like I have to do serious.”
What advice do you have for future students at Kennett?
Amy: “I guess I would say try things that you are interested in. Don’t just join clubs or take classes because you think you should take them or you’re expected to take an advanced class when you don’t really want to. Do what you are interested in.”
Carson: “That’s good. I think it’s gnarly good advice to have some fun with your high school career. Don’t always buckle down on just academics and out on the weekends doing this for student council or that for something else. Make time for friends and all that; it’s important.”
Do you have favorite teachers?
Carson: "(Chris) Wong, absolutely. Mr. Richardi, and if I had to pick third, probably Mrs. (Corinne) Reidy (mathematics)."
Amy: "I've had this answer planned: Mrs. Cole, Mrs. Dirubbo and Mrs. (Marj) Allen (mathematics)."
Time for the tough questions. Favorite food?
Amy: “Pizza. I’m more of a plain pizza person. I usually go with, like, just one topping, pepperoni or bacon. Most of the time just cheese.”
Carson: “I think I’m a big chicken finger and fries guy. I never really stepped out of that phase.”
Carson: “I’d say, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (by Anthony Burgess.) I read it in my sophomore year. It’s just so different the way it’s written. I kind of like that.”
Amy: “Mine is ‘A Change of Heart,’ by Jodi Picoult, it’s really amazing. I first read it in, like, seventh grade, and I’ve reread it four times.”
Amy: "‘Mamma Mia!’”
Carson: “I like the Marvel movies. I’ve always been a fan of those but don’t know that I have one particular favorite.”
Are you guys morning or night people?
Carson: “Oh, I don’t like mornings at all. The least favorite part of my high school career has been waking up at 6 a.m.”
Favorite TV show?
Amy: “‘The Office.’”
Carson: “Yes, definitely.”
What three people living or dead throughout history would you like to have dinner with?
Amy: “FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), Anne Frank and Michelle Obama.”
Carson: “Albert Einstein, Elon Musk and Abraham Lincoln.”
Who is the person who has influenced you the most?
Carson: “My parents. Kind of a boring answer. But both my mom and dad have worked hard to get me here, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Amy: “Yeah, that’s the same for me. They’ve worked hard to give me the opportunities that have allowed me to get into college and where I am today. And, also Mrs. Cole, too.”
Where in the world would you like to visit?
Carson: “Japan. I’d like to try a lot of food there.”
Amy: “I want to go on a trip across Europe. I think I’m going to study abroad in France when I’m in college. Ever since our (French Club) my sophomore year, it’s been a goal.”
Carson: “I’m going to try to study abroad, too, because I’ve never left the United States and Canada.”
If you could be principal for the day what would you do?
Amy: “I’d change the start school time to later, probably at 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m., ideally 8:30 a.m.”
Carson: “(The school board) should go ahead and try it. No harm, no foul.”
Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now?
Carson: “I probably won’t be in school, but I might be. I'll probably have a job in software development somewhere, probably not too far from here, Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire.”
Amy: “I’d like to live in Denver and work as an environmental scientist or specialist or consultant, something environment and science related.”
Any final words, parting shots, a shout-out to anyone?
Carson: “I’ll give a shout-out to Eric, why not?”
Amy: "A shout-out to my mom and Mrs. Allen.”