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Top students in the Class of 2016 announced

May 18, 2016—The three seniors who’ve earned top academic honors as members of the graduating class of 2016 are valedictorian Holly Monson, salutatorian Javier Rodriguez and honorable mention Mackenzie Smith. Learn more about them and their future plans below.

“We are incredibly proud of Holly, Javier and Mackenzie,” said Co-principal Bryan Wood. “Their dedication, resilience and hard work over the last several years have earned them the top spots in their class. We wish them continued prosperity in all their future endeavors.”


Holly MonsonHolly Monson - Valedictorian

Holly Monson plans to attend Liberty University, in Virginia, this fall. The top scholar of the Cohoes High School Class of 2016 has enrolled as an undergraduate student who is undecided and plans to take a variety of courses to learn more about the 500+ programs the Christian university offers. She is most excited to attend Liberty because of its academic diversity and the welcoming collegial environment she experienced both times she visited campus.

Monson is a lifelong Cohoesier and an active member of the high school band and chorus—including marching band and select choir. She is also a member of National Honor Society, drama club and character education club. Holly has also played on the girls’ volleyball and lacrosse teams throughout high school. She carries a high school grade point average of 98.14.

When asked, “What do you think you’ll miss most about Cohoes?” Monson replied: “I think I will miss the simplicity of childhood, but I am really looking forward to the independence and finding out how I’m going to impact the world.”


Javier RodriguezJavier Rodriguez – Salutatorian

Javier Rodriguez has been a student in the Early College High School computer science program at Hudson Valley Community College for much of his high school career. This fall, he plans to continue his computer science studies at Siena College, where he received a scholarship to attend. Rodriguez enjoys programming most, and intends to stay in the Capital Region upon graduation from college—a plan he feels confident will come to fruition, given the 90+ percent of computer science programmers who leave college and immediately enter the workforce.

Rodriguez credits Mr. Brahler, a former teacher at the high school, for recommending the Early College High School program, “I wouldn’t have known about it at all.”

The salutatorian, who carries a GPA of 95.43, was surprised to learn of his rank as second in the class, given the difficult college-level course load he carried since enrolling in the Early College High School program. What he's looking forward to after high school? “Mostly getting out there and doing what I want to do academically and professionally.”


Mackenzie SmithMackenzie Smith – Honorable Mention

Just 0.33 points behind Javier Rodriguez with a GPA of 95.12 is honorable mention Mackenzie Smith. The lifelong Cohoesier plans to attend her first choice school, the University of Rochester, and major in neuroscience. Smith was a student in science research with Mr. Kloczko and it was during her junior year—while conducting research into empathy and the workings of the brain, that she chose a future path in neuroscience.

Smith is a member of the National Honor Society, character education club, marching band and concert band. She was also in several of the school plays. In addition, she is a three-season track athlete, running distance in cross-country, indoor and outdoor track for much of her high school career.

“The brain is the most complex organ,” said Smith. “I want to contribute to research of the brain in some way. Science research honed my interest and I’m really looking forward to studying it further.”


The Cohoes High School graduation is at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Hudson Valley Community College.