After 152 years, Albany High has a Black valedictorian | WNYT.com

After 152 years, Albany High has a Black valedictorian

Dan Levy
Created: March 28, 2021 11:36 PM

ALBANY - I'ts not just anyone who can say they've made history in high school. Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield is one of them.

"I think one of the things about me is if you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to do it,"Otitigbe-Dangerfield says.

With a near perfect GPA, Onovu is graduating at the top of her class at Albany High School, becoming the first Black valedictorian in school history, a history that dates back to Reconstruction just after the Civil War in 1868, 152 yeas ago.

"I think that just being able to be valedictorian is an amazing accomplishment," she states, "I'm very privileged to be in that position but to have some historical meaning behind it, to have a position where in 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 says she's always had the innate desire to go outside the scope of learning that is being offered (in the school district). Beyond her academic achievements, she's also President of the robotics team, President of Key Club, and Editor-in-Chief of the school's on-line newspaper.

In addition, she sings in the Select Choir, plays violin and piano in the Jazz Improve Band, and plays soccer. She also makes time on weekends to work at a nursing home.

Onovu says all of the activities constantly serve to broaden her horizons and make her the most holistic person she can be.

"She is definitely a treasure," asserts Ellen Hurley Green, who became Onovu's guidance counselor in middle school. "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."

The scholarly dynamo has been accepted at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and Georgia Tech to name a few.

"She's a role model for girls," Hurley Green reiterates, "a role model for students of color too, and I think those things are something that we always have to hang on to."

Just like Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first vice president of color earlier this year, Onovu also believes it's nice to be first at something, but it's more important not to be the last.


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