"Do or Do Not. There is no try."
This quote will sound very familiar to all the Star Wars fans out there, but for the rest here is some background. This is what Jedi Master Yoda once told a young Jedi in training named Luke Skywalker. This is also the message that Foxborough Regional Charter School Valedictorian Allyson R. Rudd shared with her 29 classmates during last week's graduation ceremony.
The FRCS Class of 2012 will forever hold a special place in the school's history because they are the first class to graduate on the Central Street campus. This class has another claim to fame because it is the only class to graduate in the new state-of-the-art gym where each graduate received the gift of a lightsaber from their Class Council Secretary, who is academically ranked #1.
"Class of 2012, I give you a light saber," announced Rudd at the conclusion of her Valedictory Speech. To make sure her classmates will always remember their historic night and the countless memories they share as a group, she wrote by hand Yoda's quote and "FRCS Class of 2012" on each lightsaber.
Rudd is unique in that she not only has a passion for community service, but part of her passion is motivating other young people to also serve or as she puts it, "To fulfill their own community service."
Rudd moved to Foxboro when she was 5 years old and has been an FRCS student since kindergarten. She reflects that during her 13 years as part of this "close-knit community that is like family" she has learned "how to use emotion to communicate with others."
Part of this training came from her involvement and eventual leadership in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Rudd joined RYLA as a sophomore and was a member of a group of 9-10 students. Each group was called a family. She became a family leader her junior year and this past year as a senior she served as Student Director.
Rudd is also grateful to longtime Foxboro Rotary Club member and Past President Lew Gordon for all his support as a liaison.
"He serves by bridging the gap between the adults in the Rotary Club and Interact," Rudd explained.
Interact is Rotary International's service club for young people ages 14-18. The motto of Interact is, "Lead, Connect! Serve." Rudd is a founding member in Foxboro, was vice president and served as Interact president this past year.
During the last three years of RYLA participation, Rudd has helped her fellow members achieve the following club goals: to make new friends, improve their community, develop leadership skills and make a difference in the world.
She appreciates the role that Rotary has played in her life, "There are great leaders in Rotary. The Rotary Club helped me find a passion for community service and motivated me to help other kids my own age do community service."
Early in her high school career, Rudd adopted Mahatma Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world." For the last four years she has lived it. For example, she has excelled in her rigorous academic schedule particularly her favorite subjects of Advanced Placement Literature and History.
"I love studying things that happened in the past. I like finding the connection between the past and modern history," Rudd said.
This National Honor Society member adds that she is grateful for "very supportive teachers who always push me."
A huge New England Revolution fan, she played on the school's co-ed varsity soccer team serving as captain her junior and senior years.
"The experience of being on a team brings kids together," she said. "Sports connect the school community."
Rudd also writes for the school's literary magazine, Paragon. This avid reader recognizes that her junior year AP English class helped make her a critical thinker and writer.
Outside of school, Rudd is a swim instructor for babies and young children at the Holiday Inn in Taunton. During the summer she is a camp counselor at Oak Hill Country Day Camp.
Exercise, nutrition and the arts are extremely important to this well-rounded student who enjoys running, taking Zumba classes at the Y, charcoal drawing, painting with watercolors, reading original poetry/short stories at the school's coffee house and cooking.
Just this past April, Rudd achieved her Black Belt in Kenpo Jujitsu Martial Arts from the Red Dragon Martial Arts Academy at Foxfield Plaza. She currently serves as an instructor at the academy for younger students and participates in demonstrations/community events such as the Relay for Life in Mansfield.
Heading to Seton Hall
Rudd will be a freshman at Seton Hall University this fall in the John C. Whitehead School, where she will major in Diplomacy and International Relations. From the moment she stepped foot on the New Jersey campus that is only 14 miles from New York City she said she "knew it was where I wanted to go to college."
This comes as no surprise because the Whitehead School was founded in conjunction with the United Nations and the school's motto is: "Being a servant leader is one who serves to lead."
She also plans to minor in business, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. She has a solid foundation in Spanish, since she has had to study the language and culture every year since kindergarten. Rudd recently began studying Mandarin using Rosetta Stone and looks forward to pursuing it more next year.
Her ultimate goal is to be an international attorney. This past year Rudd completed a paralegal internship with local attorney Thomas J. Marks. She also contacted Massachusetts State Rep. Jay Barrows who connected her with Green Schools founder and organizer Robin Organ of Mansfield. Rudd served as a student ambassador and presenter for Green Schools to fulfill the experiential part of her senior independent enrichment.
Rudd truly appreciates the support she has received from her family. She is the oldest of three children and the daughter of Lori and Jeffrey Rudd.
"My parents are very supportive and always encourage me to give things my best shot," she reflects.
Rudd's brother Dan is a junior and her sister Caroline is in the seventh grade at her beloved FRCS. Her mother Lori is one of the school's founding members and as Chair of the Board of Trustees proudly presented her daughter with the Trustee Scholarship for Academic Excellence at this year's historic graduation exercises. This scholarship is presented every year to the student with the highest grade point average.
Whether reciting Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Woman," in Mandarin at the State House or presenting her Senior Independent Study on what is diplomacy in 2012 to her peers and teachers, Allyson Rudd is a leader who serves. She is also a teller of corny jokes (ask her about the melon that is not allowed to get married).
Now, Rudd will always be the girl who delivered her Valedictory Speech with a Yoda doll on the podium and gave each of her classmates a lightsaber at graduation.
"This is to remember the journey of high school and to lead you forward in future adventures. Just as Luke's lightsaber was a symbol of his heritage and destiny, your lightsaber also represents where you have been and where you are going. Think of all the teachers, parents, and friends who helped you along the way - the lightsaber represents their support guiding you to this moment today. It also serves as a beacon of your future - step out to live it well. Keep in mind the wisdom of Yoda on achieving goals and overcoming fears. You are leaving FRCS well-prepared. Good luck in your future endeavors. May the Force be with you."