RIPLEY - Ripley Central School announces Zachary Mota is the valedictorian and Samantha Gardner is the salutatorian of the Class of 2012.
Mota is the son of Teresa Testrake of Ripley and Manuel Mota of Heathrow, Fla. Mota leads his senior class with a cumulative average of 94.768. Mota is a past recipient of the Alfred University School of Engineering Award and the Bausch and Lomb Science Award.
Mota is a busy young man, involved in activities in and out of Ripley Central School. At school Mota has participated in golf, Yearbook, Student Council and a mentor in the CASS (Creating a Safe School) Program. He is also a member of the National Honor Society. Outside of school, Mota has been very involved in Boy Scouts. In ninth and 10th grade, Mota was a senior patrol leader. The last two years he has been a junior assistant scoutmaster. In 2010 and 2011 he worked as a lifeguard and merit badge instructor at Boy Scout Camp Merz.
Mota has another interest that probably few people know about. He likes theater and has been involved in the backstage operations of many local, area performances. He has been a lights and sounds manager and spotlight operator for the North East Community Players as well as at the Roadhouse Theater in Erie and the Erie Playhouse.
Mota has participated in the 3-1-3 Program at SUNY Fredonia this past school year and done very well. At college in the morning he takes English and social studies courses and returns in the afternoon for his math and science courses as well as physical education, handbells and concert chorale. Mota's love for science has him planning on attending Ithaca College and majoring in biology.
Gardner is the daughter of Kellie and Charles Gardner of Ripley. She ranks second in her class with a cumulative average of 90.291. Gardner is a past recipient of the Fredrick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony Humanities and Social Sciences Award.
Gardner is probably most well-known for her singing of the national anthem at numerous athletic events and ceremonies. Besides her singing activities, Gardner is quite active at Ripley Central School. She is currently the president of Student Council, a member of Key Club and the National Honor Society. She has participated in golf for three years and volleyball for four years. She kept statistics for boys volleyball for two seasons and girls basketball this past season. Gardner has also spent the last four years helping out in Mrs. Weakley's second grade during her study halls and has absolutely loved her time there.
When not in school, Gardner has participated in food and clothes drives. In the past, she had summer employment at the Chautauqua Institution and the Straw Hat in North East. She currently works part-time at K-Mart in Harborcreek and Webb's in Mayville.
Gardner's future plans are to attend Jamestown Community College for two years and then transfer to Buffalo State College to get a bachelor's degree in special education and a master's degree in mathematics. She would like to teach high school math someday.