Editor’s Note: As with previous years, The Athens Messenger has featured the valedictorian and salutatorian from each of Athens County’s five high schools in a series of articles this week. This is the final installment.
Note: This story appears in the Saturday, May 19 newspaper on Page A1.
GLOUSTER — The valedictorian and salutatorian of Trimble High School’s Class of 2018 had very different paths to their distinction.
Calen Campbell, the valedictorian, has wanted the top spot ever since her sister earlier attained it. Colton Wright, the salutatorian, didn’t start actively working toward the goal until the middle of high school.
Either way, both made it and are proud of their achievements.
“I was a little worried (about getting it),” Campbell admitted. “It was definitely a goal to be valedictorian, I’ve been trying to work towards it for all four years.”
“She got told and I watched her come out smiling,” Wright remembered.
“Oh, I was thrilled,” Campbell agreed with a laugh.
The two found out about their distinction in March, but had an idea about their class rank back in January, when first semester grades were released. Both have been lifelong Trimble students, with Campbell following in her eldest sister’s footsteps. Chloe Campbell was valedictorian in 2008, before heading to Columbia University on a several scholarships.
“She’s always been someone I look up to, so I wanted to try to do that too,” Campbell said.
She is planning to attend Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College this fall to study biology, and has already scheduled her classes.
“I took anatomy last year and I loved it. I already kind of knew I wanted to go into medicine,” she said. “Then I’m in chemistry this year, which is another big part of it and I love that too, so it’s been an idea in the back of my mind but last year it was concrete: I’m absolutely going into medicine.”
Wright has plans at OU as well, where he is headed this fall for mechanical engineering.
“I’ve always just worked with dad in the garage, my whole life basically,” he said. “We’re hands on type of guys, and once I found out what engineering was, I knew. I just want to get paid to build cool stuff. That would be the best thing ever.”
He is considering getting a master’s following his bachelor’s degree, but hasn’t decided if he will go to graduate school immediately after his first degree or instead work for a few years in-between.
Through school, Wright also has played football for the Tomcats, playing tackle on defense and left guard on offense. He is a member of the National Honors Society and the school’s Ohio Model United Nations group, a program that teaches students how the UN operates and assigns them to act as delegates of a selected nation.
In his spare time, Wright works around the house with his dad. Currently, they build model and radio controlled airplanes together.
“We do a lot of hands on stuff,” he explained.
Campbell has also participated in NHS and Ohio Model UN, as well as basketball, track, student council, yearbook, marching band and jazz band. She plays trumpet and mellophone.
In a small school district like Trimble, nearly all graduates have stories to tell of their fellow classmates. Campbell and Wright are no different. While they were congenial and laughed together in speaking about their high school experiences, they also agreed that they had not always liked each other.
“She used to be my nemesis in 6th grade or something,” Wright recalled, “because we were in some Pinocchio play together and we had to hold hands.”
“It was a bone of contention for years,” Campbell remembered. “That was a long time ago.”
When asked what her favorite part of high school was, Campbell didn’t hesitate.
“Honestly probably anything to have to do with the band,” she said. “I’ve always really liked music — it’s not what I’m going into, but I do love it. Marching band the last couple years has been fantastic, and this year I did jazz band too, which was an awesome experience.”
Wright has his favorite parts, too.
“I’d say just getting to hang out with my friends all the time, and physics class is definitely my favorite,” he said. “Physics class is awesome.”
Both students have some trepidation about the future, realizing the comfort of high school will be stripped away in college.
“Definitely a little bit. I already scheduled and it’s gonna be hard,” Campbell said. “It should pay off. That’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel: it should pay off eventually.”