Photo by Gillian R. Swart
Ryan Galer (left) and Nick Mullins ready to
take off to dinner in Boston with fellow NHS seniors.
  At the top of their class


By Gillian R. Swart

GateHouse News Service
Thursday, May 31, 2007, 06:58 PM EDT

published in the Newburyport Current issue dated
June 1, 2007

 
 

Newburyport - Regular readers of the Current will recognize Ryan Galer's name from the two columns he has written for the paper (link within). To his classmates he is known as Valedictorian of the Newburyport High School Class of 2007.

He and Nick Mullins, the Salutatorian, were caught on the fly as they were preparing to go with their classmates to Boston for dinner at Fire and Ice Wednesday evening. It has been a busy Senior Week for the two friends, both slept in until well past lunch after a night out Tuesday that did not land them in bed until past 4 a.m.

Ryan says he was inspired to write his latest column, about the override vote, because of his deep interest in philosophy and education. Plus, he adds, it was meaningful output rather than reading a bunch of books.

"I think the system is kind of broken," Ryan reiterates. "You're taught to work for a grade ... it's not the teachers' fault; the teachers have to conform to the system."

In addition to being philosophical about education, he is also passionate about languages, Spanish in particular. He is planning on deferring his entrance to Brown University to live outside Madrid for about a year and earning his way by being an au pair. It's a way to get to live in Spain, he says.

In Spanish class, he notes, his teachers gave him the flexibility to do his own thing, which included making a movie in Spanish. He and his classmates wrote the script, did all the technical stuff, and edited the film. Nick was also involved in that project.

Nick was actually in Spain when the letter came to his house confirming that he was the Salutatorian.

"I didn't even know," he says, "my parents opened it while I was in Madrid."

He soon found out from his classmates, but did have a general idea beforehand as the district sends out rankings starting in students' junior year.

As to his future, Nick will be attending Dartmouth College this fall.

"I'm kind of trying to keep my option open right now," he says, but he'll probably major in science with a minor in history. Right now, he's ready to kick back until late September.

"Actually," he says, "the most stressful part (of senior year) was applying to schools."
His top two picks were Brown or Dartmouth.

Both young men were very active in school; Nick played in the band and Ryan was on Student Council, ran track and played soccer. Both grew up in Newburyport. Nick lives on High Street with his parents, Jan and Mike, and Ryan and his younger sister alternate between his dad, Barry, on Russell Terrace Extension and his mom, Chris, on Fulton Street. Nick has an older brother and two older sisters, all attended NHS.

Dinner in Boston is just another of the many events the seniors have taken part in during Senior Week. Monday there was the traditional Vespers/candle light vigil and Tuesday night they headed to a comedy club, a laser tag fun place and an IHOP - a night that ended after 4 a.m.

On Wednesday it was back at the school by 5 p.m. for the trip to Boston. Thursday night, Nick intended to escort his "gf" Molly Quill to the prom while Ryan brought Kat Maines. In between all this, they were trying to write their commencement speeches for the June 3 graduation ceremony. Nick hopes his comes off as being as funny as he intends it to be; Ryan's is more serious.

"I looked up 'valedictorian' and it says it's the person who delivers the farewell speech at commencement," Ryan tells Nick, who isn't surprised that Ryan looked up the word.

Whatever the definition, it is known as the highest-ranking student in a graduating class. The Salutatorian, of course, is the second highest-ranking student, academically speaking. Both of the young men will graduate on Sunday with grade point averages above 4.7.

 
 
 
(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Current.)
 
 
 
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