It is pretty common for students to go through their years of primary education and not even speak to every person that has surrounded them on a daily basis. That is certainly not the case for Claudia Patterson or her 12 fellow graduates at the Bridgehampton School. With roughly 200 students in grades kindergarten through 12, it’s almost impossible to not make connections with classmates and teachers.
Patterson has been named Bridgehampton School’s valedictorian for the class of 2018. Graduating with a weighted grade point average of 95.47, Patterson will attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison come fall.
After moving from Massachusetts in eigth grade, Patterson joined the Killer Bee family and was able to change the course of her schooling experience. “It’s really different from my old school. I really care about these people and I genuinely want to be here,” says Patterson. “To me, Bridgehampton resembles more of a family than a community and in a town with so few people year-round I will miss walking around and being greeted by so many familiar faces.”
Bridgehampton is the perfect place to an active community member, says Patterson, and she took full advantage of that opportunity.
“My involvement throughout the Bridgehampton community has been one of my most favorite activities,” she says. “Through the student government group, I have been a part of creating food pantries in the school, handing out lunches to students for the weekends, raising money for families in the Bridgehampton community for holidays and sponsoring and mentoring students in the school.”
Transitioning from a small town to a huge city like Madison, Wisconsin, will afford Patterson the opportunity to further her love of helping people in her community and learning more about the things around her. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of something bigger than myself and helping my new community.”
Patterson accredits her success to her supportive and sometimes embarrassing parents. “They never put an immense amount of pressure on me and that allowed me to put the right amount of pressure on myself to succeed. They let me be myself and allowed me to explore anything that I wanted.”
From a very young age, Patterson’s favorite book has been Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. As high school nostalgia started to set in, she thought back to the book and found hidden messages behind the vibrant colors, wacky drawings and crazy rhymes. “It has wonderful lines like, ‘you have brains in your head and feet in your shoes and you can steer yourself any direction that you choose’ and ‘you’ll look up and down streets. You’ll look ‘em over with care. About some you’ll say I don’t choose to go there.’ This book summarizes not only the weird and strange places you can go in life, but what life can be when you make it your own.”
“We did it so let’s keep doing it,” she encouraged her fellow graduates during Bridgehampton’s commencement on Sunday. And as departing words she recited, “Congratulations today is your day! You’re off to great places, you’re off and away!”
“So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”