Murphy Resident Graduated as 2019 WHS Valedictorian
Murphy resident, Aidan Gardiner, is the Wylie High School class of 2019 valedictorian. There are 590 seniors in this class. He has lived in Murphy since 2004. He attended Boggess Elementary, Murphy Middle School and Wylie High School.
By the end of his junior year, Gardiner was pretty confident that he would be valedictorian. After spring break this year, the ranking was official. He said when it was official, his family took him out to dinner to celebrate. He describes the moment it was official as satisfying. Among other awards, he received the character award, which is awarded by WHS staff, numerous years.
His weighted G.P.A. is 5.68, un-weighted is 3.99. He scored a perfect score on the ACT. He said he prepared for the ACT by taking the sample tests. He described the ACT as being more within his academic wheelhouse than the SAT in that it has more calculator math and the science portion is more data interpretation. He advises others to take the practice tests and study the explanations of each question. He said learning the term ‘trade-offs’ in economics helped him define how he approached class assignments. He would assess the weight of an assignment, then act accordingly. Regarding sacrifices he made to reach this level of academic excellence, he said, “I didn’t get a lot of sleep my junior year.”
Describing how he has changed over the last four years, he said he has become humbler about his opinions. “I am more respectful in arguments and debates.” He credits the teachers at WHS for providing opportunities for discussion which allowed this type of change to take place.
Showing up late to an Advanced Placement (AP) test is one of his favorite high school memories. He said, “Everyone applauded.” He smilingly explained that being tardy is one of his chronic (and well-known) problems.
Advice Gardiner gives to incoming freshman is, “Challenge yourself. It is easier to slow things down if you can’t handle it. But, it’s harder to catch up to, and compete with, others if you start slower. Shoot for the stars and moderate if needed.” He said overall, he has no regrets regarding his high school experience. He did say there were some activities he wished he could have participated in, but there wasn’t enough time.
Science and physics have been his favorite school subjects. He provides an example as to why science reached this level of esteem, “While the rest of the school was relaxing on the last day of school, my teacher, Dr. John Howe, brought an oscilloscope to school and explained how it works. “
Beyond academics, Gardiner has been a member of the cross country and track teams and choir. He also enjoys playing Spikeball.
Gardiner said that two of his teachers at WHS, Leny Philipose (English teacher) and Calley Conner (track and cross-country coach), inspired him. He said that Philipose set him on the right path when she talked about setting goals. Conner taught Gardiner about incremental improvements as it relates to athletics and he encouraged the athletes to apply this thought process to other parts of their life.
He is thankful to his parents for, “always being present.” He said they allowed him to fail and succeed. They taught him that in whatever he is doing to put his full effort into it.
Gardiner has been appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He will attend the academy for four years and become an officer. After that, he will serve in the military for a minimum of five years. He will have the option to become a pilot, but as of now, he is keeping his options open. He said he chose the Academy over other college options because, “When I toured the Air Force Academy, the type of people who attended were very driven, excited about the country and what was going on at their school.”