NORTH SMITHFIELD – Abigail Votta is the valedictorian, and Megan Skinner is the salutatorian, in the North Smithfield High School Class of 2020.
Votta is the youngest daughter of Jim and Peg Votta. She is the recipient of the Harvard Book award and is a member of the North Smithfield National Honor Society.
According to a press release announcing the school’s two highest achievers this week, Votta is active in her school community, co-founding the Environmental Change Organization, which aims to encourage North Smithfield residents to become more environmentally aware. She has been a member of the Math Team since her Freshman year, travelled to Washington, DC for the We the People National Competition, and currently serves as music liaison to the NSHS Student Council.
During her sophomore year, Votta won the Write Your Way to Hamilton Essay contest, and travelled to New York with nine other Rhode Island students to see Hamilton on Broadway. This year, her documentary, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg v. Societal Injustice,” created with her classmates Kate and Kristianna Lapeierre, won first place in Rhode Island, and will compete with other students across the country in Washington, DC at the National History Day event.
Pointing to the Shakespearean quote, “Though she be little, she be fierce,” school officials noted that at 4’11.5, the top student in this year’s crop of graduates has abilities, interests, and passions that far exceed her height.
Among those passion is music, and Votta has been a perennial selection as a French hornist for the RI All-State Band, the Southern New England Honor Band, RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and RI Philharmonic Youth Symphonic Wind Ensemble. During her junior year, she was selected to perform in Pennsylvania as part of the All-Eastern Concert Band and Florida with the All-National Concert Band, one of very few Rhode Island students to be selected for each. She has also been an active member of the RI Philharmonic Youth Horn Ensemble for the last four years. Following her junior year, she was chosen to perform in the RIMEA Honors Recital Concert, both as a soloist and as part of her horn quartet. She is the principal French horn player in her school’s Symphonic Band, of which she is vice president, and performs on trumpet in her school’s jazz band. She also joined chorus during her senior year as a member of the Chamber Choir.
Votta is also active in the athletic community. She has played Varsity Girls’ Tennis for four years, finishing her senior season as 2nd Singles. After her 11th grade season, she was named the best 4th Singles player of Division 2 in Rhode Island. During her senior year, she was named captain of the 18-player team. She was also a member of the softball and outdoor track teams.
Votta will be pursuing a major in political science at American University in Washington, DC. Her dream is to follow in the footsteps of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and become a lawyer, where she will “use her privilege and her strong belief in equality to improve the lives of others.”
Salutatorian Skinner is the daughter of Rob and Sheryl Skinner. She has served as the NSHS Student Council president since her junior year. She has been a member of the NSHS Dance Team since 7th grade and continues to be a leader on the team.
According to school officials, Skinner has been highly involved and highly impactful in the school community throughout high school. As a freshman, she participated in the NSHS We the People Program, competing nationally in Washington, D.C. and later returning to judge dress rehearsals and the state competition. Also as a freshman, she co-founded the school’s FIRST Robotics team and led them to multiple regional awards as vice president in her sophomore year and president in her Junior and Senior years. In her sophomore year, she joined the Herodotus Society, where she served as president in her junior and senior years. In her junior year, she was inducted to the National Honor Society, where she received the Brown University Book Award, and co-founded the NSHS Foosball Team. She has been a member of the chorus all four years. Skinner also worked as a math tutor all four years and in the summer she is a counselor at Camp Phoenix.
Skinner also has significant involvement with the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Program. The NSHS faculty nominated her to be the school’s ambassador to the HOBY RI Leadership Seminar at the end of her sophomore year. The following month, she attended HOBY’s World Leadership Congress as the only ambassador representing Rhode Island. She has stayed active with the organization as a junior facilitator at the 2019 seminar, organizing local events, and logging over 100 community service hours within one year to earn the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the HOBY Leadership for Service Award. She also received the HOBY Academic All-Star Award as a senior. In addition, she was recognized by the College Board as an AP Scholar with Honor in her junior year.
Skinner has studied various styles of dance for 13 years at the Jasper School of Dance and has been a member of the Jasper Ensemble, the studio’s competitive troupe, for seven years.
Skinner will attend Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and will pursue a degree in international politics.