The humble young ladies, known for their character, Raider pride and commitment to bettering their overall educational experiences, agreed that both their GRB and own families helped lift them to success. While hard work, dedication, natural abilities and time management got them to the top, Stevenson and Cealie both said all their peers should be proud of themselves and their high school accomplishments.
“We grew a lot in high school,” Cealie said. “I learned it’s OK to stay alone and go on my own course. (Looking back), we probably took things for granted.”
Stevenson said while it’s nice to be honored as valedictorian, she encouraged other high schoolers to not compare themselves to anyone. What everyone has to offer, she said, is the most important gift to remember.
Both Stevenson and Cealie said they never strived to be the top two students; they just wanted to work hard. It paid off, as Stevenson earned an overall weighted grade point average of 102.342, while Cealie achieved a 102.261. Both ladies credited supportive GRB teachers with helping to shape their high school success. For Stevenson, math teacher Susan Ryan and English teacher Danielle Florio were shining stars, while Cealie also appreciated the efforts of Ryan “for always being there” and science teacher Jeffrey Rothrock, whom she said had always been very supportive.
Other supports along the way, Cealie said, have included her mother, Denise, whom she said gave her life and love.
“She gave (me) a second chance; she adopted my sister and I from China,” Cealie said. “I’m very grateful to have her as my mother.”
Stevenson said while she never felt pressure from her parents to be at the top of her class, it was the encouragement from her role model mother, Carolyn, that made her propel forward. Support from her father, Kenneth, and friendly competition from twin brother Ean kept her focused. She praised her brother for being recognized as the top third student of the Class of 2019. He earned an overall gpa of 101.652.
Stevenson said she will attend the University of Rochester in the fall, with a focus on neuroscience for now. She eventually would like to earn her doctorate degree and continue conducting research.
“I’ve always been interested in the brain, puzzles and human anatomy,” she said. “I had a great uncle who had Parkinson’s and it was rehabilitating and sad to see.”
Meanwhile, Cealie’s future plans include attending St. John Fisher College where she may major in biology, with hopes of becoming a pediatric genetic counselor. Although she said she has followed her sister, MaKenna, who was GRB valedictorian in 2015, she is proud of her own path.
Cealie and Stevenson praised one another for finding balance throughout their high school education. Stevenson participated in numerous clubs and activities, including, but not limited to: symphonic orchestra, playing the piano, participating in Quirk’s Players, Battle of the Books, varsity volleyball, softball and swimming and diving; National Honor Society, HOPE Club, mentoring, math club, debate club, Reality Check, YC3 and she has held a summer job as a lifeguard.
Cealie’s high school resume is just as lengthy, as she participated in varsity tennis, dance since she was two, Quirk’s Players, student senate, math club, National Honor Society, OCAY League, mentoring and GRB News. Her favorite, however, she said, was mentoring because she was fortunate enough to have the same student for four years and see the value and impact of the program on the elementary student.
Before they embark on their next adventure, Cealie and Stevenson said they have some advice for GRB underclassmen. Stevenson said finding a spot to focus and study, away from distractions, is key. For her, a WiFi connection at Dunkin’ Donuts was perfect. Cealie, however, said all it will take to achieve greatness is putting in a little extra effort.