PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Whenever Tricia Victor or Katherine Dumigan walk into a room, they are likely going to be the smartest one there, according to Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless.
"It's every parent's wish and desire in work and life to hope for, and aspire to, and blood sweat and tears toward, making sure our own children are smarter and better informed than we are ... I can tell you wherever these two women go, they are probably the smartest, most knowledgeable, hardest working people in the room," McCandless said.
The two received the Massachusetts Association of Superintendents Certificates of Excellence on Wednesday night. One student from each high school is presented the prestigious award annually and this year Taconic's Victor and PHS's Dumigan are the recipients.
"The criteria are three-year cumulative grade-point average, rank in class, and personal selection by the superintendent," School Committee Chairwoman Katherine Yon said.
According to Taconic guidance counselor Kathryn Place, Victor ranks first in her class with an average grade of 102.4. She scored advanced on all three Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams, has been recognized for her academic success in French, algebra, chemistry, human geography, and history. She is a recipient of the Smith College Book Award and is a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the French National Honor Society.
"At Taconic, Tricia continuously challenges herself with rigorous coursework. She has already successfully completed AP U.S. History, AP Human Geography, AP European History, and AP English language," reads a letter from Place.
The senior is now taking in the anatomy and physiology dual-enrollment course through Berkshire Community College. She is taking AP statistics, AP psychology, AP English 12, and honors French. She was named a Questbridge College Scholar.
Victor is also a member of the Taconic Student Council and heads an annual coin drive to adopt a local family for the holidays.
"She takes an active role in her school community as a member of the social justice club, class council, green and gold club, and Berkshire youth united," Place wrote.
She does all of that while still working 24 to 28 hours a week at Berkshire Medical Center. Victor has her eyes set on some of the most prestigious colleges including Harvard, Columbia, John Hopkins, and others. She hopes to major in political science or international relations and eventually become a humanitarian affairs officer with the United Nations.
"She is an exceptional young lady and is extremely deserving of this award," Place said.
Pittsfield High School guidance counselor Amy Higgins described Dumigan as a "natural leader and an academic star."
"She is on track to graduate with high honors, as an AP scholar and has been awarded the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. Kate is no stranger to academic accolades and has also been awarded with the University of Rochester Book Award, the PHS School Improvement Leadership Award, and the Geometry Excellence Award," Higgins wrote.
Dumigan has completed eight AP course and 11 honors course in a wide range of topics — from physics to art — and then filled her electives with engineering and computer design. She looks to mesh all of her interests into a college major in architecture and design.
"Her biggest challenge will be narrowing down her varying interests and fitting in all of her passions, from arts to computer science to robots. She has revealed that her interest in design is something that started a long time ago and was inspired by her father and grandmother, both talented in art and technology," Higgins wrote.
Dumigan leads the class with a 100.3 average grade. But that's only part of the story, according to Higgins.
"Surprisingly what is most impressive about Kate is not her lengthy resume of achievements but rather how meaningfully she has applied her natural skills and interests to improve herself and positively impact those around here," Higgins wrote.
Dumigan is the founder of the PHS Mural Club that has brightened the classrooms and hallways throughout the school.
"She has not only beautified the building but has lifted the spirits every day of those who pass through its hallways," Higgins wrote.
Dumigan enrolled in BCC's STEM starter academy, taking college courses and attending lectures to prepare herself for her chosen career path. She even found time to earn a brown belt in taekwondo. Higgins said Dumigan has shown a "consistent desire to learn and master more."
The pair received the honor in front of the School Committee on Wednesday night. McCandless presented the award to each of them.
"If you are ever feeling pessimistic about the state of the world, these are two young people you can think of that are making a positive change," McCandless said.
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