Sara Metzger has been chasing down the valedictorian track ever since her freshman year at Summit High School. Whenever she had the opportunity to get a look at her class standing, she would see that No. 1, which would spur on her academic efforts.
“When you have it there, then you think about every little thing, like, ‘Oh god, that test that I didn’t so do well on,’” she said with a laugh.
She certainly wasn’t alone at the top either, contending against her classmates in what she described as a fierce, yet friendly competition.
“We’re all, like, hundredths of a percentage point (apart),” she said.
In the end, Metzger held out, and will walk onto the stage today as class valedictorian. While she professes to be somewhat nervous about delivering her speech, she’s excited about graduation and what it means.
‘It’s my turn’
Metzger has lived in Summit County her entire life, starting her school career at Breckenridge Elementary School, following the footsteps of her two older brothers. Between her siblings and the passel of cousins who also call the county home, Metzger has been to many Summit High graduations over the years. Now, suddenly, she’s the one in the spotlight.
“It’s my turn,” she said.
Metzger packed plenty of club and other activities into her four years at the school.
Volleyball, a sport that she has been involved with since the fifth grade, was her focus. She was a part of the varsity team her sophomore, junior and senior years, this year acting as the varsity captain.
“When I look back on high school, it’s just like one of the best, like biggest learning experiences,” she said of the sport. “The people that I met and my coaches and everything that I experienced from volleyball is one of the things that I’ll carry into the future. I learned so much.”
Metzger was also a member of the Spanish Honor Society and the National Honor Society. Last June, she went on a service trip to Honduras and helped build a school for a rural village.
Academics also played a large role, and she recalls many teachers who influenced and encouraged her. One of these was Laura Ryer, whom she took a civics and economics class from as a freshman and, this year, history of the Americas.
“Her class is so hard. It’s just a lot of reading and a lot of writing, but it’s really structured how a college class would be structured,” Metzger said. “I really appreciate the high expectations she had for everyone in the class.”
She also admitted that the heavy homework load prepared her for what’s coming up in college.
During spring break of her junior year, Metzger traveled to New York City to see her uncle. The two of them visited a number of nearby schools.
“I honestly had never considered going to an Ivy League school,” she said of her mind-set before the trip. “But once I got on the campus, and actually Yale was the one that actually stood out to me, and I was like, I could really see myself doing this.”
Her attendance at Yale University became official this March.
“Going to the East Coast is such a big change from here, but it’s exciting to go somewhere that’s so different.”
While she’s willing to keep her options open, Metzger plans to start out studying chemical engineering. Growing up in Summit County has sparked her interest in alternative energy, as has her environmental systems in societies class this year.
“It made me realize that I could totally see myself working in energy because it’s something that we need to figure out so badly.”
Metzger said she’s also planning on joining a volleyball club while she’s there.
“I don’t think I could just quit playing,” she said with a laugh.
Helping Metzger on her path to Yale are the scholarships she’s received from various local sources.
“It’s so cool to live in a community that, they throw those scholarship opportunities to you, rather than you spending hours slaving over the computer looking for like which scholarship can I wiggle my way into?” she said. “They’re like ‘Here, here are all of these scholarships — apply,’ you know? They really want the kids that come out of Summit to be successful and they are really helpful in that, so, it’s definitely a great community to be a part of in that respect.”
Summer in Summit
Once the excitement of graduation has died down, Metzger plans to enjoy her summer in Summit County. She’s looking for a part-time job, but there will be plenty of relaxing and spending time with friends before school in the fall.
“I feel like this weekend is the definition of bittersweet,” she said of graduation and beyond. “It’s so exciting but it’s sad, too; a big part of your life coming to a close.”
Still, she can’t contain her enthusiasm for long.
“There’s lots to be excited about,” she added. “It’s very cool.”