While facing their classmates, Caroline Czarkowska and Kensley Sutton enjoyed offering words of encouragement for hundreds of students wondering what’s coming in the future.
Czarkowska and Sutton earned the honor of valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively for Clinton High School’s Class of 2016.
“It’s a new time in your life,” Czarkowska said. “We can remember high school. Now, you can do what you want and go for your dream.”
Czarkowska said she felt great about her major accomplishment, hard work and was very excited about it. Sutton had the same feelings when she spoke to her peers about a journey that began in preschool, made possible through several individuals.
“I talked about all of the support they’ve given us,” Sutton said while giving thanks.
Like Czarkowska, she talked about the future too.
“We talked a little bit about the future and how everything is changing,” Sutton said. “We’re not going to be in school together in August like we used to be. It’s going to be different.”
As the child of immigrant parents from Poland, Czarkowska moved to Clinton in the sixth grade after living several years in Wallace. She is the daughter of Dariusz Czarkowski and Barbara Czarkowska. Her father came to the America to work for Murphy Brown, a hog production facility.
At CHS, Czarkowska played tennis, was a member several organizations such as Student Government Ambassadors (SGA), Spanish Club and National Honors Society.
“I had many great friends and had a good time at Clinton High School,” Czarkowska said.
In addition to CHS activities, Czarkowska added more to her plate by taking up piano and volunteering at Immaculate Conception Church, by assisting with Sunday school studies on Sunday.
“You have to organize your time and it’s not very easy,” she said. “But you can’t stress about it and you have to have some time to yourself.”
In the fall, Czarkowska and Sutton will be miles away from home. Czarkowska is attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to major in Spanish and international affairs. As a future career, Czarkowska would like to be a translator or a diplomat. The idea came about from her different experiences with languages such as Spanish and Polish.
“My parents taught me Polish, but once I got into school, I spoke English,” Czarkowska said.
She believes the Clinton community and CHS prepared her for college.
“Throughout high school, you learn about hard work,”Czarkowska said. “In college, you’re going to have to study a little more. And you’ll probably learn your interest overtime. You start thinking about what you like to do.”
Sutton plans to study business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I think pursuing business at a university like (UNC-Chapel Hill) is going to open a lot of doors for me,” Sutton said. “I hope that once I get there, I’ll see the many opportunities that I have and something that speaks to what I want to do.”
As the child of Ken and Kim Sutton, Sutton grew up in Clinton and was involved in several activities.
“I really like the community aspect of Clinton and how everyone has been here to support me throughout all of my years,” Sutton said. “It’s really nice going into a restaurant and being able to find someone you know immediately there.”
Sutton currently holds the Miss Clinton High School title and participated in several organizations. Some of then included the SGA, Key Club and Beta Club, where she served as president. She was also active on the CHS tennis team.
“Clinton High School has been really good to me and I’ve enjoyed all of my time there,” she said
Sutton was very busy at CHS, but still manged to maintain one the highest GPAs in the school. She danced at The Performing Arts School for many years, participated with Girls Scout and went on many mission trips.
“Academics has been really important to me so I always focused on getting good grades,” Sutton said. “But staying active was definitely another thing I wanted to do. I found a way to balance it all, managed my time and organized myself. It worked out very nicely.”
For the future UNC student, it’s important to stay involved in activities while pursuing education.
“Everything works on a different kind of aspect,” Sutton said. “It kind of strengthens you in different ways through leadership skills and things like that. I think those are things everyone needs in the future when they’re getting out into the workforce. Being a part of clubs can prepare you for that. It’s really helpful to be involved.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.