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The Southern Bell
The Southern Bell

Val & Sal Interview

29 Views | Published May 22, 2024 | Edited May 23, 2024

Tags: #interview #interviews #salutatorian #valedictorian


Madeleine Fryling

The Southern Bell - Writer
(Madeleine Fryling) —

I had the chance to sit down with South’s senior Valedictorian, Ethan Fazal, and Salutatorian, Emily Nothdurft to discuss their academic journey and the responsibilities of the honor bestowed on them.

Question: How did you feel when the Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors were announced?

Ethan: I felt very proud of myself, given that this really had been a goal of mine since the seventh grade. Especially since I think that I put in a lot of effort and sacrificed a good amount for it, it felt incredible to know that all that I did was worth it. I was probably just as excited to hear Emily be announced as Salutatorian, however, as she definitely put in a lot of effort and time for the title as well.

Emily: I was very excited! I was coming back from the Southern Bell field trip, and it was announced when I got back. I was surprised because I wasn't completely sure if it was going to be me or not, so it was very exciting. 

Question: If you could only pick one person, who would you say helped you most to achieve this accomplishment?

Ethan: I would definitely say that my mom helped me most to achieve this position. From a very early age, she was the one that guided me to always continue pursuing knowledge and striving for the best, academically especially. Throughout my high school years specifically, she was always there to support me when I had inevitably overextended myself, and she never pressured me to do more than I could—she gave me the reminder that whatever I could do, is always enough.  

Emily: I wouldn't say that it was only one person, but I definitely have to thank Mr. Lipsky because he's helped me with everything within the past couple of years. Through Falcon Report I've learned time management which definitely translated to my academics. He’s also just helped me with math, with physics, and with learning how to write grammatically so I have to give that to him. 

Question: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 7th grade self?

Ethan: From about seventh through half of tenth grade, I was probably too dedicated to studying for tests and doing well in my classes. While I wouldn't tell my seventh grade self that academic success isn't important, I would tell him to branch out more: become more involved in clubs, cultivate deeper friendships, and take more leisure time! I found that once I did all these things (rather late in my high school career), school became so much more enjoyable a place.  

Emily: I would say take challenging classes that you're interested in and figure out what's best for you early on. Try to figure out your study techniques and just try to learn for the sake of learning rather than the grades and the grades will catch up eventually. I think that definitely once I got into junior year and I just was really interested in the curriculum that I was learning about, I started to think more and started reading the textbooks because I was interested in them not because I had to retain all this information for a test. Because of that I remembered it better and I did better on the tests. Really just don't stress out over the small things. 

Question: Why do you believe you received this honor?

Ethan: I believe that I received this honor because it was worth the amount of work that I put in for it. Over the past six years, I've allocated a lot of time to studying, doing homework, and just learning overall. However, once I understood that learning in and of itself was something that I really enjoyed, schoolwork, for the most part, became less of a chore, and more of a privilege. I think this honor reflects that part of me. 

Emily: I think I worked hard the past couple of years and like I said, I didn't start out the best. I didn't make Principal’s List every marking period—there were quite a few that I didn't—but then I got my grades up a lot in junior year and it’s kind of just it all evened out. 

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Ethan: In the coming fall, I plan to study computer science at Duke University, and although that may be in North Carolina, I do hope that I can visit South often. This place has given me so much, and I hope that I will always be able to continue giving back to it. 

Emily: Well I'm going to be attending Yale University next year! I’m deciding between the math and physics program and the astrophysics program, so I don't know if I'll do both of those or if I'm majoring one and just kind of treating the other as a hobby. I'm also hoping to continue a lot of the things I already do at South. They don't have a video broadcast club unfortunately so I think I’ll take a little break from that, but I might do their newspaper. They do have, if my pamphlet is correct, a club rifle team, so I'm hoping to pick up air rifle again since I unfortunately quit that last year. I'm looking forward to meeting new people but I think I'll definitely be visiting South quite often because I'll be less than two hours away! 

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