June 24, 2017
School & Youth
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  • Tara Dedrickson completed her high school career in the top of her class as the salutatorian of Chesapeake High School’s Class of 2017.
    Tara Dedrickson completed her high school career in the top of her class as the salutatorian of Chesapeake High School’s Class of 2017.
  • Salutatorian Tara Dedrickson spoke to her graduating class on Wednesday, May 24.
    Andrew Candella
    Salutatorian Tara Dedrickson spoke to her graduating class on Wednesday, May 24.

Tara Dedrickson Named Salutatorian Of Chesapeake’s Class Of 2017

Gracie Fairfax
Gracie Fairfax's picture
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June 14, 2017

Chesapeake salutatorian Tara Dedrickson doesn’t settle for less than her best, both on the field as a 12-season varsity athlete and in the classroom.

Dedrickson credits her work ethic for her success in high school. She took 13 AP classes, as well as two courses at Anne Arundel Community College – linear algebra and calculus-based physics.

“I spent an unimaginable amount of hours on work and studying for tests,” Dedrickson said. “I don’t think I went into a single test in high school without studying for it and I don’t think most people do that, and I think that’s what put me in the position to be toward the top of my class.”

All four of her high school years were spent on the varsity soccer team, of which she was both team captain and voted MVP by the coach. She also spent seven seasons on the varsity track team, where she was awarded “most improved,” and she played tennis at the end of her senior year. On top of school sports, Dedrickson played club soccer with SIAFU.

“It was extremely influential on my happiness,” Dedrickson said of her club soccer team. “It made me feel like I belonged to something; I had never been as dedicated to something as I am now.”

In order to get all of her schoolwork done in the midst of her busy extracurricular schedule, Dedrickson did homework between classes, on the bus to sports activities, on Friday and Saturday nights and often in the middle of the night after she had fallen asleep doing homework. But the hard work paid off as she was a member of the National Spanish Honor Society and had the highest GPA of all Chesapeake athletes for several seasons throughout her sophomore, junior and senior years.

High school definitely had its challenges for Dedrickson, such as finding the balance between doing well and having fun.

“The biggest lesson that I learned was to not lose focus … to enjoy yourself while pushing yourself,” Dedrickson said.

One of her greatest challenges in high school turned into her biggest accomplishment. Dedrickson got a concussion that lasted for five months and struggled to think straight without getting a headache. It was during those five months she had to take her AP tests and her grades were being finalized. As an elementary school student, she set a goal to keep straight A’s, and the concussion made her doubt her ability to maintain her goal. However, in the midst of the setback, she was able to both keep straight A’s and achieve scores of 4 and 5 on all of her AP tests.

“It was definitely when I was at my weakest and I still managed to maintain the goals that I had set,” Dedrickson said.

The salutatorian received an $80,000 scholarship at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which she will attend in the fall. She plans to double major in computer science and math. She will also play on the varsity soccer team. She looks forward to the relationships she will build with her professors there — something her older sister who attended the school particularly enjoyed about Dickinson.

Both her parents and teachers were influential in her life throughout high school. She credits her love of her future majors to two teachers — Alfred Kasimov for math and Lisa Shifflett for computer science.

“As a soccer player, Tara Dedrickson literally throws her whole body into her efforts on the field, sliding to save a ball from going out of bounds, or diving to head a ball before her opponent has an opportunity to shoot,” Shifflett said. “There are no limits to what she will do to help her team. If you can make a mental picture of this level of athletic effort, and then picture what that same effort would look like in an academic environment, you have a visual of Tara as a student.”

Her parents were a constant support for her, comforting her when she had anxiety and providing life advice. While many high school seniors may be eager to get away from their parents, Dedrickson feels just the opposite.

“The most I’m going to miss about being in high school is going to be living with my parents,” she said.

During the summer, she will continue to train with her club soccer team, which hopes to make it to nationals, and prepare for her fitness tests for college.


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