BURRILLVILLE – They’ve inspired and motivated each other to achieve academically throughout the years, sharing a love for both science and sports, and on Friday, June 8 they will leave the high school side by side, having earned the top two grade point averages in their class.
Elizabeth Ethier is the valedictorian and Nicole Ethier is the salutatorian of the Burrillville High School Class of 2018.
The twin sisters credit one another with their drive to excel. They served as co-captains of both the school’s soccer and basketball teams, and often, as partners on school projects.
“For me, the first nudge into academic success came from my sister’s success,” said Nicole. “At first, I had always felt that she was a step ahead, so I began to push myself harder. Eventually, I was not pushing myself to beat her, but to achieve with her by my side.”
“I feel very lucky to have a twin who is as passionate and driven as me,” said Elizabeth.
The girls took many of the same classes during their time at BHS, focusing primarily on advanced placement science courses.
“Many people believe that this provided an unfair advantage for us, but I think it was exactly the opposite; we are both naturally competitive people and therefore could not help but compete with one another,” said Elizabeth. “Although it was difficult at times, I have always been proud of her and of us.”
The twins say their parents, Steve and Dina Ethier, have joked for years that they would be the top two graduating seniors at the school, but as time went on the girls realized their competitive nature with one another had put the goal within reach.
“I could not have asked for a more supportive sister and we have learned that we work very well together,” Nicole said
Elizabeth, who will end her high school career with a 4.416 GPA, has been a member of the student council, DECA, Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse, and the civics club. In DECA during freshman year, Ethier and her partner placed second in the Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team state-wide competition. She is a member of the National Honor Society and served as the club’s treasurer her senior year.
Elizabeth played varsity soccer and basketball for all four years at the school and lacrosse her freshman year. She was nominated as captain of both the basketball and soccer teams this year, and the soccer team won the Division II State Championship. In basketball, she was nominated as Third Team All Division at the end of her junior basketball season. At the end of her senior season, she was nominated as Third Team All State and All Tournament Team for soccer, and Second Team All Class and First Team All Division for basketball.
She also took part in charitable work, volunteering as a junior staff member at Camp Ker-Anna, a girls overnight summer program in Cumberland, throughout high school. She volunteered with the Unified Basketball team her sophomore year, the Burrillville Youth Girls Basketball Clinic her junior year.
This fall, she will be majoring in behavioral neuroscience at Northeastern University in Boston, and says she is also nterested in attending graduate school
Nicole, who graduates next week with a 4.3 GPA, shares a strikingly similar resume of accolades and activities.
Nicole was a member of the school’s Civics Club for two years, and organizing charities and a memorial for fallen soldiers in town. She was also a member of DECA and VAASA for the first three years of high school, and a member of Student Council and a social chair for class officers for the entirety of high school.
Nicole also performed community service at Camp Ker-Anna, cleaning grounds with her sister and volunteering for overnight programs. She helped to organize a charity where barbers and hairdressers from Burrillville cut hair and send all of the profits to a group against domestic abuse. She also volunteered to work in a haunted house for a church organized charity, and has taken part several other community service efforts.
This year’s salutatorian also played basketball and soccer for all four years of high school, and was captain of both teams this year, winning the division championship for soccer. Nicole was named MVP and All tournament in soccer this year. She also played lacrosse in her freshman year.
Nicole will attend Boston College in the fall, majoring in biology. She said she also plans on completing the premed track and pursuing a career in medicine with the goal of becoming a surgeon.
Elizabeth said her first role model during her time at BHS was Isis VanPutten, the valedictorian of the class of 2015.
“I was a freshman when she was a senior, and she participated in many of the same activities that I did, including soccer and student council,” she said. “We even played the same position for soccer – center midfield.”
“She was always the best at anything she set her mind to, and I could tell that her success came from hard work and determination. I would see her studying before our soccer games or during JV games, and I knew that I wanted to achieve the level of drive and motivation that she undoubtedly had,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth also named AP biology teacher Gennaro Ferraro as a role model.
“He uses his passion to foster interest and excitement in those around him, and his ability to motivate others is inspiring,” she said. “One of my goals for my future and for my career is to find something that I am that passionate about, and to be able to use this passion to inspire others as I had been by him.”
Nicole notes that while the girls’ parents were both extremely supportive of their hard work in school, they did not play a hands on role in their academic careers.
“Our parents never felt the need to question us about doing homework, or whether or not we had been studying,” Nicole said. “I think that the lack of intrusion into my school life gave me more of an encouragement to try for myself.”
The sisters note that sharing their high school experience has been one of the sweetest elements of their success.
“Now, our high school goals and dreams have been achieved, and instead of achieving them by trying to beat each other, we ended it doing it all together,” said Nicole.