SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — South Kingstown High School Valedictorian Devin Lloyd said that even though he’s leaving SKHS with diploma in hand, his education isn’t stopping, and he’s happy about that.
“It feels like a relief, but it’s also like, we’re going to be going to school for another four years,” he said just days before graduating on June 14.
Salutatorian Catherine Rekos said she’s “very, very happy” to be moving on as well.
Lloyd will study biochemistry at Northeastern University, while Rekos is heading to Georgia Institute of Technology to study environmental engineering.
“I always liked science and chemistry,” Lloyd said. “But last year with AP biology I started to figure out more specifically what I like.”
Rekos has always been interested in engineering, she said. But it was an internship at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport that sparked her focus on the environment.
“I learned a lot about what we need to do to protect our oceans, and veered toward environmental engineering,” she said.
This summer Lloyd plans to return to an internship with South Kingstown Summer Strings, an orchestra for children.
“I help the kids tune their instruments and help teach one session at a time, or play along in that session if they need more strings,” he said. His instrument is the violin, which he’s played for nine years. He’s been in the All-State Orchestra, school orchestra and pit orchestra.
“And I also got a gig with GEAR productions – Give Everyone A Role,” with their fall play, he said.
Rekos has worked for four years as a waitress in Charlestown, but plans to take on another job as well this summer with Navitech.
“They’re a naval architecture and engineering company,” she said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s mainly coding and stuff like that.”
Rekos is very active in school sports, and was captain of the cross-country team at South Kingstown. She also was on the outdoor and indoor track teams, and participated in the math team and academic decathlon.
“It was fun, honestly,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t do it, because it’s a lot of studying, but I liked it.”
As for their futures, Lloyd said he wants to get a master’s degree after his undergraduate studies and then go into research. Rekos wants to work with sustainable energy, she said.
Both of the students said they leave South Kingstown with lots of good memories, and it’s hard to pick just one or two.
“But last year AP U.S. history with Mrs. (Andi) Kenyon was a really fun class where we learned a lot. We did a lot of projects like the Great Debate,” Lloyd said.
Every student in the class had to pick a topic or issue and present both sides of it. Then, the class would choose the topic it wanted to debate as a whole. The class chose to debate whether hate speech should be constitutionally protected or not.
“We were both in that debate,” he said.
Looking back on his high school years, Lloyd was quick to credit his parents, both educators, with instilling in him a desire to learn.
“They taught me how important learning is from an early age,” he said. “Doing things like encouraging me to take hard classes and trying to give me an advantage in math by teaching me some concepts way ahead of schedule.”
In her graduation speech, Rekos shared something she learned from her grandfather.
“Take every opportunity you have in life, because you might never get another shot.”