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  • Claire McCarriher, who will attend Princeton in the fall, addressed her class at her graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 24.
    Stephanie Mennell Photography
    Claire McCarriher, who will attend Princeton in the fall, addressed her class at her graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 24.

Northeast Valedictorian Claire McCarriher Has A Love For Learning

Gracie Fairfax
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June 14, 2017

Northeast High School valedictorian Claire McCarriher always had her nose in a book growing up. As a lover of learning, McCarriher didn’t feel that earning the top grades in her class was a chore.

“I kind of liked doing homework and I liked studying, so in terms of working toward the good grades, that definitely helped because I kind of liked it,” she said. “But I can understand my classmates … they don’t quite share my sentiments all the time.”

In addition to studying, McCarriher served as the vice president of student government, where she took part in the homecoming committee; the secretary of the National Honor Society; and president of the German Honor Society. She also represented Northeast at the Hugh O’Brien Leadership Conference. As a two-sport athlete, she played two years of JV soccer, two years of varsity soccer and competed for four years on the varsity track team.

Although she was shy and introverted in middle school, McCarriher feels that she learned how to communicate well with people in high school and how to better manage her time in the midst of a busy schedule.

“Claire is one of the top students that I have had the pleasure of working with as a school counselor. She is hardworking, responsible and mature,” guidance counselor James Gondak said. “She is the complete package.”

McCarriher credits her teacher, Julia Lebowitz, for being supportive. “She helped me in terms of when I was stressed out, she would calm me down,” McCarriher said.

One of her stresses was getting her first B in her entire academic career, in calculus, which she successfully bounced back from. She certainly did bounce back as she was accepted to Princeton University.

“I cried. I definitely cried. I cried for like an hour,” McCarriher said of the moment she learned of her acceptance. “My parents were ecstatic. They couldn’t believe it. They kept asking me, ‘Is this real?’”

McCarriher’s parents were supportive of her both emotionally and financially in her life growing up and in her pursuit of Princeton. Her English and social studies teacher, Everett Reese, guided her through the process as she set her sights on Princeton.

“He really helped me understand what I had to do for college and that it was achievable and that I could figure it out,” McCarriher said.

At Princeton, McCarriher plans to study either history with a focus on classics or English — with the intention of going to law school.

“I argue about everything,” McCarriher said of why she thinks law would be a good fit for her. “Someone can make a fairly truthful statement and I will argue it till the end … it’s something that I could actually do as a career and enjoy it.”

As she prepares to go off to Princeton in the fall, McCarriher has a simple summer plan. “Spend time with the people I love before I leave for college,” she said.

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