WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Meet Jenna Martinez and Roxanne Wilcox, the valedictorian and salutatorian for James Caldwell High School Class of 2017.
Valedictorian Martinez is currently deciding between the business schools at Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania. Wilcox, the Class of 2017 salutatorian, is heading to the University of California, Davis to study chemical engineering.
During her time at the high school, Martinez co-founded and served as co-president of the Culture Club, was co-secretary of the Engineering Club alongside Wilcox and was also in the Math Club, Key Club and National Honor Society. She was also very involved in the music program. Outside school, she has volunteered with the Montclair Art Museum.
To incoming freshmen, Martinez said to “take school seriously, but don’t let it stress you out.”
“I know I get very anxious about grades and, in retrospect, I think I just need to chill out and take a moment for myself every now and then because there’s much more to high school than academics,” said Martinez, who also encouraged freshmen to take advantage of clubs, sports and time with friends.
During Wilcox’s four years at James Caldwell, she participated in cross-country for three years, indoor and outdoor track for all four years and varsity horseback riding. She was a member of the Culture Club, Key Club and Math Club in addition to being a co-secretary to the Engineering Club alongside Martinez. Like Martinez, she also was very involved in the music program.
To incoming freshmen, Wilcox said, “When an opportunity comes up, take it.”
“Even if it’s ‘Oh, my friends are outside my house right now and they want to go get ice cream,’ go with them,” she said. “Your lab reports and homework can wait. Take advantage of the immediate and have fun.”
Martinez’s favorite high school experience was going on tour each year with the James Caldwell music department. As the spring sports season comes to a close, Wilcox said she would miss being on the James Caldwell girls track and field team the most.
In the final weeks before graduation, both girls said they are looking forward to their senior prom.
Martinez said she is already working on a way to reflect on her own experiences while also being motivational in her speech. Both girls said they look forward to the opportunity to publicly thank all the people who helped them get to where they are today, including their parents, teachers and peers.
“Without my friends, I think my high school experience would have been completely different, and not in a good way,” she said. “People always say it’s the people you’re surrounding yourself with that impact your experiences—they’re the ones that make your life what it is—so, I’m very thankful for them and all the laughter and kindness that they’ve shown.”
Wilcox, who is in the same circle of friends as Martinez, echoed her sentiments about the community they have created within James Caldwell High School and looks forward to formally addressing those peers at the graduation ceremony on June 22.