New York senior named first Black valedictorian in her school’s 152-year history

Ama Nunoo March 31, 2021
Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield makes Albany High School history as its first Black Valedictorian. Photo: WNYT

An Albany High School senior has become the first Black valedictorian in the school’s 152-year history. The school was established during Reconstruction shortly after the Civil War in 1868. Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield has just penned her name in the school’s history with a near-perfect GPA.

Onovu, who is graduating top of her class, has been accepted into various schools including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and Georgia Tech.

The high school senior is happy to be chosen as the valedictorian. She believes now more than ever that many Black students will follow suit because she has broken the jinx and given them every reason to visualize themselves in that same position.

“I think that just being able to be valedictorian is an amazing accomplishment.

“I’m very privileged to be in that position but to have some historical meaning behind it, to have a position wherein my school there’s a lot of students who look like me, now I’ll have an opportunity to live by that mantra –if you can see it you can be it,” Onovu told WNYT.

Onovu does not only excel in her studies, but she is also an all-rounder in extracurricular activities. On weekends, she at a nursing home. She is the president of the robotics team, president of the Key Club, and the editor-in-chief of the school’s online newspaper. Onovu can sing as well. She is a member of the Select Choir, plays violin and piano in the Jazz Improve Band, and is also a soccer player.

One may wonder where she gets the energy and time to do all that she does. Onovu said her motivation comes from naysayers. According to her, involving herself in all these activities makes her a very well-rounded person.

“I think one of the things about me is if you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it, “she said.

Her guidance counselor since middle school, Ellen Hurley Green, is in awe of her and admits that in her three decades of working in the Albany school district, she is yet to meet another like her. “She is definitely a treasure. I’ve been in the district for 30 years and honestly I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone with so much poise, so much grace, and so much humility, along with so much sparkle in everything she does.”

Hurley Green admits Onovu is Black excellence personified and a great role model for girls. “She’s a role model for girls, a role model for students of color too, and I think those things are something that we always have to hang on to.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 31, 2021


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