Editor’s Note: As is tradition, The Athens Messenger is featuring the valedictorian and salutatorian from each of Athens County’s five high schools in a series of articles throughout the coming week.
This story appears in the Friday, May 31 newspaper on Page A1.
GLOUSTER — Trimble’s top scholars this year are best friends, though they are preparing to embark on college journeys hundreds of miles apart.
Jaelyn Sayers was named valedictorian for Trimble High School’s Class of 2019. Zoie Lanning was named class salutatorian. Both were involved in the National Honor Society and were senior class officers.
The two said they’ve been best friends “for a long time,” and stayed close throughout high school. To commemorate their friendship, Sayers presented Lanning with matching necklaces emblazoned with the coordinates of Trimble High School for them to wear during the last few weeks of school.
“She’s going to New York, so I wanted to give her something to help her remember where she came from,” Sayers said.
Lanning laughed a little at the comment. “Stop, I’m going to cry.”
The two graduates are a bit sentimental about splitting ways to attend college. Sayers is headed to Ohio University this fall to study psychology, while Lanning is headed to Marymount Manhattan College to study musical theatre.
Sayers said her choice of pursuing a degree psychology stemmed from her mother, who is a psychiatric nurse.
“I’ve always been incredibly passionate about mental health,” Sayers said. “I’ve always wanted to help and change the way people behave, and help people who don’t have a voice have a voice.”
Lanning has been immersed in musical theatre since a young age.
“I’ve just been into musical theatre since I was 10 years old,” she explained. “I saw my first professional show and said ‘that’s it, that’s all I want to do.’”
Lanning has performed with the Athenian Berean Community (ABC) Players and elsewhere. She even hosted a “farewell concert” singing her favorite songs at Trimble Elementary earlier this month, with Sayers helping to organize.
Lanning credited her friendship with Sayers as helping her make it through high school.
“She’s the best person in the whole world,” Lanning said. “She has the biggest heart, and she cares so much. She’s so selfless, and would do anything for anyone.”
Sayers was equally complimentary.
“(Lanning) has the most drive out of everyone I’ve met,” Sayers said. “If she wants something, even for a split second, she goes full in.”
For Sayers, being the top of her class has been a goal she’s chased since grade school.
“It’s always been a goal for me, ever since I skipped second grade,” she said. “Ever since then it has been what I was going for.”
Lanning noted that this also made Sayers the youngest student in their class.
“Every time I tell people that they think it’s pretty cool,” Lanning said.
Lanning’s ranking as salutatorian was not something she worked towards, she said, instead crediting the college-level classes taken during high school for her high ranking.
“It honestly just happened, and I owe that to my College Credit Plus classes,” she said. “They helped me out a lot.”
As for the future, both said they were nervous, but ready. One of the biggest challenges, the two said, will be how different their lives will be after moving away from Glouster.
“We won’t have the same routines, and we’ll have to make different friends,” Sayers noted.
“We’re so comfortable here,” Lanning agreed. “I’m scared to go somewhere that is the exact opposite of Glouster, which is New York City.”