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  • Chesapeake High valedictorian Christine Parkent gave a speech at her graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 24.
    Andrew Candella
    Chesapeake High valedictorian Christine Parkent gave a speech at her graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 24.

Chesapeake Valedictorian Christine Parkent Is Harvard Bound

Gracie Fairfax
Gracie Fairfax's picture
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June 14, 2017

Obtaining the title of Chesapeake’s valedictorian was no easy feat for Christine Parkent despite her inquisitive mind and determined nature. All throughout high school, the top spot of the class went back and forth between her and the salutatorian, Tara Dedrickson.

“Freshman year, I was first; sophomore year, she was first and then junior year, we were tied,” Parkent said. “So it all came down to senior year, and senior year, first semester, I took an online course and so I pulled ahead a little bit. It’s definitely been a battle all throughout the way.”

In addition to an online class, Parkent credits her success to foreign language teacher Grant Yinger, who allowed her to take French 4 after one semester of French 3. Through French 4, she was able to receive an honors credit.

“I worked with Christine as a teacher and as a coach,” Yinger said. “In all of my years of teaching, I don't know if I've ever seen anyone as driven and determined to succeed. She is a perfect example of someone who sets a goal and commits herself to accomplishing it. It has been a pleasure to see her grow into the outstanding young lady she is today. I am confident and convinced that she is on a path to achieve great things.”

A 12-season athlete who competed for four years on the field hockey team and four years at a varsity level on both the indoor and outdoor track teams, Parkent had a lot on her plate in high school. If that weren’t enough to keep her busy on top of maintaining near perfect grades, she was the captain of the championship-winning field hockey team for two of her four years of high school, captain of the outdoor track team, president of the varsity club, secretary of the class of 2017 and secretary of the National Honor Society — a load she couldn’t have managed without the encouragement of her family, peers and specifically her parents.

“They’ve always been there for me as an ear to talk to and for advice,” Parkent said of her parents. “Whenever I come home stressed out, they always have dinner ready for me on the table, supportive words, [and] any little pieces of advice they could give me always helped along the way. I definitely could not have done it on my own.”

Parkent’s hard work paid off when she learned of her acceptance to Harvard University — news that made her “ecstatic.”

“It’s always been my dream school,” Parkent said. “I thought it was unattainable all throughout high school. I just applied just for haha’s sake and found out that I got in.”

At Harvard, she plans to try out for the varsity field hockey team as a walk-on and study physics, a subject she grew to love in high school through her AP physics class.

She applied the concepts she learned in her physics class to activities she did outside of school, such as pole vaulting, and she used GoPro cameras to videotape the action from various angles. She considers these personal projects some of her greatest high school challenges and accomplishments and a way in which she “went beyond” what the teachers instructed.

“You can derive equations and figure out ways to solve it on your own, and I can go out and perform my own experiments to figure out the laws of science,” Parkent said of why she loves physics. “I like the creative side of the sciences, and math, where you can go out and figure it out on your own and then compare it to what’s already been established.”

The Harvard-bound valedictorian will certainly miss the small-town feel of Pasadena as she prepares to exchange the Chesapeake Bay for the Charles River, but she’s excited to enter the diverse community Harvard has to offer.

But before she hits the road to Harvard, she’s focused on successfully completing the Surf and Rescue Technician Academy for the Ocean City Beach Patrol. If she passes all the evaluations, you will find her propped up on a stand at the beach this summer.

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