Rotary honors Seniors of May

Courtesy photo Alicia Sadowski (Keystone), Brynn Vayda (Oberlin), and Alex Walsh (Oberlin) are the Oberlin Rotary’s students of the month for May. There are pictured with Rotarian Jim Heib.

The Oberlin Rotary Club honors high school seniors each month during the school year. These young people are recognized for character and positive attitudes. They have contributed time and energy by helping the school and community and are excellent role models for the students at Oberlin High School and the Lorain County JVS.

The seniors for May are Brynn Vayda and Alexandra Walsh of Oberlin High School. The students were honored at a weekly noon luncheon of the Oberlin Rotary Club at the Oberlin Inn.

Vayda has been involved with the Oberlin choral music program since eighth grade. She sang with the Phoenix Chorale all four years and is one of the founding members of the school’s a cappella and chamber choir, Up From the Ashes. As a senior was president of both groups and served as the alto section leader. This year the Chorale received a top rating at the district contest, which qualified the choir to go to the state contest, something OHS had not done in more than 25 years.

Vayda also took part in Drama Club every year at OHS. She was involved with each production and this year was club vice president, assistant director of the fall play, “The Idiot Box,” and director of the spring play, “Six Characters in Search of an Author.”

In November, Vayda traveled to Northern India with her father, creating a video curriculum to educate women and qualify them to become nurses. Last year, Vayda was a participant in the Global Youth Institute World Food Prize essay contest. Her essay focused on learning about the food security issues in India.

Vayda will attend Mount Vernon Nazarene University, majoring in education and minoring in drama. She has received the Virginia F. Lail Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Daniel Gordon Sammons Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

Walsh loves creative writing and has written almost every day since she was a child. Her favorite type of writing is poetry: “I find that it provides a powerful way for me to communicate big, abstract ideas in a concrete way. I try to focus on topics that are important to me, such as feminism and environmental issues, but I also write a fair amount of math poetry.”

Her work appears in several publications, including The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and Intersections — Poetry with Mathematics. To further her writing, she has attended two creative writing camps over the last two summers (at Kenyon College and Iowa University), and has worked independently with Bruce Weigl, a poetry professor at Lorain County Community College.

Walsh has also played the piano for 13 years. In 10th grade, she began studying with Haewon Song, a professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Walsh began playing sports at a young age, beginning with soccer and softball at five and adding tennis two years later. She played soccer for all four years of high school and varsity softball for her first two years of high school, then switched to tennis.

Walsh has always been passionate about animal rights. She became a vegetarian at age five and a vegan at 13. In 10th grade, Walsh started creating graphic designs and printing shirts to promote awareness of animal cruelty. She donates all profits to PETA and ASPCA.

The bulk of community service for Walsh has come through her work as a math mentor and tutor. She was a STEM mentor at Prospect Elementary with other high school girls working one-on-one with elementary school girls to get them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math.

She has also been a mentor for the Du Bois Project, which targets kids who struggle with math and aims to help them enjoy it through fun activities and learning techniques. Walsh worked at the Du Bois Math Soccer Camp at Langston Middle School with groups of eighth grade students and at the Boys and Girls Club. In addition to her work with the Du Bois Project, she tutors middle school and high school students in math.

Walsh is a recipient of 10 Regional Gold Keys and four National Medals from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for work in poetry, flash fiction, and humor. She received first class honors with distinction (the highest possible) from the Carnegie Hall-Royal Conservatory National Achievement Program for both advanced piano performance and music theory. Walsh has also been named a National Merit Scholar and is the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award.

Walsh will attend Brown University in the fall, where she plans to study mathematics and creative writing. She has received a National Merit Scholarship for $2,500.