Valedictorian, salutatorian announced for the Class of 2020

St. Pius X recently announced its highest academic honors for the Class of 2020, naming senior Nicole Gresham the valedictorian and senior Daniel Buckley the salutatorian. Buckley and senior Margherita Ceccagnoli also shared the honor of STAR Student, given to the senior with the highest SAT score.

Upon hearing her name called at the honor assembly, Gresham said both she and her parents were completely shocked. 

“I think my parents knew that I had good grades, and they came because I got President’s List,” she said. “But they didn’t know I was going to get [valedictorian]”

Outside of school, Gresham keeps her plate full with varsity and club soccer, activities with friends and family, volunteer work and internships, traveling and swimming during the summer. 

“I’m proud of my time management even though I’m probably not getting an optimal amount of sleep. I don’t usually have to sacrifice time with my friends or family to study,” she said.

Besides her junior year AP physics class, one of Gresham’s biggest challenges throughout high school was competition with her twin sister, senior Natalie Gresham.

“Competing against Nat has been difficult but also stimulating. Wepush each other to work harder and smarter,” she said, “sometimes we end up goofing off when we study together, but usually, we’re pretty productive.”

As of now, Nicole is considering Georgia Tech, the University of Virginia, Northwestern University, Cornell University or Villanova University, where she plans to study business. 

Buckley was equally excited when his name was announced as the salutatorian.

“I was ecstatic that I got such a high honor. I had an inkling that maybe I’d get valedictorian or salutatorian, but there was no way to know for sure,” he said.

Outside of class, Buckley is a consistent participant in the arts; he does drama as a Pius Player, plays piano for Music Ministry, sings for the Atlanta Young Singers and is also a member of the Math Club.

The biggest challenge for Buckley during his four years at St. Pius was not academically related.

“Probably more socially, in finding a good group of friends, whom I have since found through Campus Ministry and Pius Players,” he said.

In addition to his GPA, Buckley is proud of other accomplishments as well.

During his four years, Buckley enjoyed “getting into All-State Chorus [his] sophomore, junior, and senior year, getting salutatorian and STAR Student, getting the lead in the fall show this past year, and getting a major role in the spring musical last year and this year.”

He said he thinks he will attend Georgia Tech or Emory University where he says he may major in math, religion, chemistry or Latin.

After being announced as the salutatorian, Buckley also learned that he was the STAR Student, an honor he shared with Margherita Ceccagnoli. 

“I actually found out about STAR a few months in advance. I got a note in the beginning of eighth [period] that I was to report to the principal’s office, which gave me a whole 45 minutes to wonder whether my troubled past of wearing out-of-uniform sweatshirts was finally catching up with me,” Ceccagnoli joked.

“I was pretty surprised when I was told that I was STAR Student. My mom cried and my friends were really excited. It made all the work I did in test prep pay off,” Ceccagnoli added.

Next year, Ceccagnoli will attend Georgetown University where she will study Business and Global Affairs through a joint B.S. program between the McDonough School of Business and the Walsh School of Foreign Service.