NORWICH – In continuing his "Akshar's All-Stars" student recognition program, State Senator Fred Akshar visited Norwich High School on Monday to recognize senior Ellie O'Neil.
O'Neil was surprised by Akshar and her family members in her Economics class Monday, where Akshar explained the "Akshar's All-Stars" program and more specifically, why O'Neil was chosen to be recognized.
"A couple of months ago, the team and I sat down and we wanted to embark on a student recognition program," said Akshar. "We thought it important for us to stay as involved as we possibly can in the public school system, but more importantly, to recognize young people and all the good work they've been doing."
O'Neil is currently Valedictorian of her graduating class, while taking challenging courses, maintaining excellent attendance, and remaining involved in athletics and various clubs. She is Student Body Secretary at NHS, a dancer and teacher at Perkins School or the Arts, and a member of Dollars for Scholars. O'Neil plans on attending medical school after graduation to eventually become a doctor.
Speaking directly to O'Neil, Akshar said, "I am inspired by you, your ability to balance your academics, your athletics, and everything else you do outside. Your mother tells me the busier you get, the better you get, when I asked how you balance your life."
Akshar invited O'Neil to address her classmates following the recognition.
O'Neil said, "We all come from a pretty small community, and it's easy to feel sometimes like that's where you'll stay and you should only dream as big as the county or school district that you're in, but I think it's important to dream bigger than that and shoot higher."
Akshar told the class that he is originally from Afton, and he highlighted the importance of dreaming.
"Working hard and dreaming big is really important," said Akshar. "Dreaming is free, it doesn't cost you anything to dream. I'm here to tell you you can accomplish anything you want in life. Dream about something, work as hard as you can, and you will be wildly successful."
Akshar's stop at NHS was his eighth of the "Akshar's All-Stars" series, and the first of three stops on Monday. He has also recognized students at Maine-Endwell Middle School, Windsor Central School District, Harpursville Central High School, Tioga Central High School, Vestal Middle School,Oxford High School, Delaware Chenango Madison Otsego (DCMO) BOCES and Deposit High School.
Pictured: NHS Principal Kisten Giglio (left), Senator Fred Akshar (right), and family of Ellie O'Neil gather to honor O'Neil (front left) on Monday. (Photo by Senator Akshar's Office)