Colavita tops the class of 2019 as valedictorian


Mahi Kandage

Colavita poses outside in the WA courtyard.

Mahi Kandage, Editot-in-Chief

Each year at graduation, Westford Academy acknowledges the valedictorian, the highest ranking student of the year. This year, the title will be presented to senior Kristen Colavita, who will be attending Northeastern University in the fall of 2020.

Throughout her time at Westford Academy, Colavita has taken several difficult classes, at both the honors and AP level. She cites Honors Chemistry as one of her favorites; she enjoyed the challenges and content the class presented. She then pursued her interest in chemistry in AP Chemistry, taught by Timothy Knittel.

“Kristen was an ideal student in AP Chemistry and excelled in all aspects of the class; she was particularly strong at developing procedures/plans to solve problems,” Knittel said.

Her passion for chemistry continued to shine through in her senior capstone, in which she and senior Varshini Ramanathan worked together to create a chemistry practice problem generator for Knittel to use for his future classes.

“Her program should be a tremendous help to future students,” Knittel said.

Though Colavita demonstrates an affinity for chemistry, she cites AP Computer Science as one of her favorite high school classes, due to the project-based nature of the class. She hopes to pursue the subject in college and beyond.

“My grand goal for the future is, I want to contribute to the cure for cancer, studying genes, and using computer science to look at that,” Colavita said.

Though her focus remains on math, science, and programming classes and clubs, Colavita balances her main interest in STEM courses with multiple challenging humanities classes, such as AP Literature, AP Psychology, and AP U.S. History.

Her interests beyond academics include her active involvement in knitting club, advised by Latin teacher Sarah Bjorkman.

“She was really good about helping people that hadn’t done it before… she would always step in and help out if somebody had no idea what they were doing, and she was really, really patient,” Bjorkman said.

Using the skills she learned and taught to others in knitting club, Colavita knit baby hats for a charity raising awareness for shaken baby syndrome. According to Bjorkman, she took up the initiative, and made about one hundred hats for the organization. She hopes to continue using her knitting skills for charity in college through the clubs offered at Northeastern.

“I love being able to use my own hobby to do something that benefits other people, so it’s not a task, it’s just something I enjoy doing,” Colavita said.

In addition to spending time knitting, Colavita plays the vibraphone (an instrument similar to the xylophone) in the WA Marching Band. As a member of the front ensemble, Colavita spends a lot of time rehearsing separately from the rest of the band.

“You get a sense of community, of us ten, that are a subsection of the band,” Colavita said, regarding the other members of the front ensemble.

As Westford Academy’s top ranking student in the class of 2019, Colavita will continue her studies at Northeastern University in Boston, where she wants to combine computer science with biology and chemistry, and study the field of bioinformatics. She found Northeastern’s Cooperative Education program appealing, due to the practical application opportunities it presents. She looks forward to experiencing life in the city of Boston, a stark change from suburban life.

“I just thought it was really perfect in every way for me,” Colavita said.

Colavita’s status as valedictorian follows her older brother Michael’s own graduation as valedictorian of the class of 2016. Though people often compare the two sibling, Colavita vocalizes that she never felt pressured to be the valedictorian.

“It was my own expectations I was living up to,” Colavita said.

While Colavita was never pushed to become the valedictorian by her parents, they encouraged her to put in her best effort and focus on academics.

“We both come from a family where academics are very important, education is very important, and so we both grew up in an environment where putting our own best effort into our schoolwork was just sort of inherent,” Colavita said.

The strong emphasis Colavita places upon academics, and her heavy course load led her to put in a conscious effort into balancing her life. She acknowledges that taking difficult classes can take a toll upon sleep and mental health.

“There’s no point in getting really great grades if you’re not feeling good to even enjoy your accomplishment,” Colavita said.

This year, Colavita says she realized that she needed to place more of an importance upon her sleep and well-being and improve her time-management skills. She believes the skills she learned regarding the importance of a balanced lifestyle will carry forth with her throughout college and beyond.

“What Westford Academy has really taught me is that it’s good to be focused on your goals, but not at the expense of your happiness. There needs to be balance,” Colavita said.