Acacia Adams (photo above left) was named valedictorian of the Class of 2021 at Wheatland-Chili High School and Rachel Allen (photo center) and Ian Orloff (photo above right) are co-salutatorians of the class. Photos provided by Wheatland-Chili Central School District

Their dreams will take them in different directions in the years ahead, but one thing will always unite Wheatland-Chili High School graduates Acacia Adams, Rachel Allen and Ian Orloff and that is their hard work in the classroom led them to the top of the Class of 2021 at the school.

Acacia Adams, the daughter of Eva and Cory Adams, will be attending Nazareth College in the fall to study biology.

“After graduating from Nazareth, I want to go to medical school to become a family care physician,” Adams said. “The reason I want to become a doctor is because African-Americans have a low representation in the medical field and I want to be that representative and help people.”

Adams, who also applied to and was accepted at the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, carried a 98 academic average with four Advanced Placement courses to her credit: AP English Literature and Composition, AP Biology, AP Calculus and AP U.S. History. She also took dual enrollment courses in Career and Finance and also Economics through Monroe Community College.

In addition to her studies, Adams was involved in several organizations at school. She was a member of National Honor Society, International Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance. In fact, it was through her involvement in the Gay-Straight Alliance that she became familiar with Nazareth College and the reason that it was her top choice for college. She had been a volunteer at the college in a conference there through her English teacher, Mr. Snyder.

Adams is a hard worker, even outside of the classroom and school setting. While many of her volunteer activities were through National Honor Society, she also is employed by the City of Rochester and works with children at the Edgerton Recreation Center.

A High Honor Roll student all four years of high school, Adams received a New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, The Thomas J. Connor Scholarship, the Valedictorian Award, a President’s Award for Educational Excellence, an Urban League of Rochester Black Scholars Award and the Urban Suburban Principal’s Award.

Her favorite memory of high school is of musician Jarrett Campbell coming to the school for the past two years. Adams said one of the teachers who has made the most impact on her was Mrs. Peets, who taught French at the school.

While this year wasn’t the way she envisioned her senior year, Adams said she has learned a lot about herself and how much resilience she has but she admitted there were downsides as well.
“I really missed my friends and the school community,” she said.

Rachel Allen, one of the co-salutatorians, has also seen the downside to the pandemic up close. Allen, the daughter of Kathy and Scott Allen, wasn’t originally scheduled to be a part of the Class of 2021 but is graduating a year early. She was supposed to have been on a Rotary Exchange Student Program for the 2020-2021 school year in Austria, which was cancelled. Then, she was scheduled to be on the Rotary Exchange Program for 2021-2022, but that now has also been cancelled.

“With that being cancelled, I will take a year off and go to college in the Fall of 2022,” Allen said. “I’ll work this year and save up some more money for college.”

Allen would like to major in either culture or geography and is also interested in photography. She said she will probably look at some out-of-state colleges that are in scenic areas so she can pursue photography.

Holding a 95 average, Allen took three Advanced Placement courses: English Literature and Composition, U.S. History and Biology.

Allen was a member of National Honor Society for one year. She sang in the choir and played clarinet in the band her freshman and sophomore year. She also participated on the varsity swim and varsity softball teams until this year. She played varsity soccer for three years and was the team’s goalie. As a freshman, she was on the team that won a Section V title and went to the state tournament. Last fall, she recorded a 1.318 goals against average with a 77.922 save percentage and four shutouts.

Outside of school, Allen works at DiBella’s Subs in Henrietta. She is a member of Rotary Youth Exchange and has volunteered with the Scottsville Rotary Club and the Avon Rotary Club. She has also helped teach Sunday School at Union Presbyterian Church in Scottsville. She played travel soccer with the Chili Charge team for a few years and refereed youth soccer games.

Allen received the Dominic J. Nicosia Jr. Memorial Scholarship, the Salutatorian Award, a President’s Award for Educational Excellence and a Mike Skivington Memorial Scholarship. She also received the Louise B. Perry Scholarship from Union Presbyterian Church.

Asked about her experiences at school, Allen said her favorite memory is having many friends in high school and playing soccer, even though she missed some school due to an injury her sophomore year. She credits her parents and her teachers for being a huge influence on her.

“I have had a lot of support from teachers in trying to get through this past year and my friends have also been very supportive,” said Allen in talking about what she has learned during a school year dominated by the pandemic. “I had been looking forward to being a Rotary Exchange student because I want to be fluent in another language and experience a different culture. Hopefully, I will have that experience at some point in the future.”

The future plans of Ian Orloff, co-Salutatorian of the Class of 2021 at Wheatland-Chili, involve attending the University of Rochester this fall. Although still undecided on a major, he may look at either history or music. Orloff, the son of Deborah and Mark Orloff, also considered Geneseo State before deciding on UR.

“Both my parents work there,” Orloff said. “It is also a good opportunity because of the wide variety of classes.”

Orloff held a 95 average in the classroom, taking several challenging courses such as Advanced Placement Biology, AP Calculus and AP U.S. History. He also took a dual enrollment course in Spanish through Monroe Community College and most of the Project Lead the Way courses.

A member of National Honor Society for two years, Orloff participated in several other activities at school. He played saxophone in the band and keyboard in the pit band for the school musicals since seventh-grade. He was part of the Masterminds team and is the school’s all-time high scorer and, this year he was the highest scorer in the league and in the Rochester area. He played for the varsity soccer team for four years as a defender, part of a unit that yielded only 15 goals last fall. Orloff played varsity tennis for four years. He was the team’s first singles player this spring and won eight matches.

Outside of school, Orloff has worked at Ikon Ice Cream in the village of Scottsville. He took piano lessons from first grade to eighth-grade. He plays piano, saxophone and guitar, playing saxophone in the Hochstein Youth Wind Symphony, a six-week program, all through high school. He has also played youth soccer through the Scottsville Athletic Association. Although he loves soccer and tennis, his athletic endeavors at college will be at the club and intramural level only.

Orloff is the recipient of several awards, including a New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, the Salutatorian Award, the John Philip Sousa Award, a President’s Award for Educational Excellence, the Sons of the American Revolution Alexander Millener Award, the U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence and a U.S. Army Scholar Athlete Award. He was named a Genesee Region All-League team member for tennis this spring.

His favorite memories of high school are going to Mastermind meets and playing soccer and tennis. Asked about the people who have made an impact on his life and what he has learned over the last year during the pandemic, Orloff didn’t hesitate in his answers.

“My parents have made an impact on me by getting me to try different things,” he said. “I have had a lot of teachers who have influenced me and also my varsity tennis coach, Mr. Chris Peets, who challenged me to do my best and be my best. Over the last 15 months during the pandemic, I have learned that whatever circumstances you encounter, just keep going, keep moving forward.”

©2021 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel


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