Connor Ingham (photo above left) and William Gocher (photo above right) are Wheatland-Chili’s valedictorian and salutatorian. Photos provided by Wheatland-Chili Central School District

Their paths at Wheatland-Chili High School were similar but will diverge, not in the woods as the Robert Frost poem says, but as Class of 2022 graduates Connor Ingham and William Gocher head off to their futures.

Ingham was named the W-C valedictorian and Gocher was the salutatorian.

Ingham, the son of Michelle and Jeffrey Ingham of Wheatland, plans to attend Alfred State this fall and study surveying and geomatics engineering. He also looked at Rochester Institute of Technology for civil engineering.

“They did not have the surveying part of the major that I was looking at,” Ingham said. “My older brother Corey had the same major and is working in it fulltime right now. I have always been interested in science and math and I love the outdoors so I thought this would be a good fit and bring both together.”

Ingham carried a 98.9 academic average. He took four Advanced Placement courses: U.S. History, English Literature and Composition, Calculus and Biology. He also earned dual credit for Spanish (two years) and Economics through Monroe Community College. He took four courses through Project Lead The Way: Digital Engineering, Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering and Design and Drawing Production.

In addition to his academic coursework, Ingham was involved in several school clubs and activities. He played alto saxophone in the jazz band and the concert band. He was a member of Masterminds and National Honor Society, which he served as Vice President this year. He was a three-sport varsity athlete in cross country running, swimming and tennis. He ran on the cross country team for four years. A captain last fall, he finished 58th with a time of 24 minutes, 35.9 seconds at the Section V Class D2 Championship. He was on the swim team for four years with his best times this year of 1:16.11 in the 100 freestyle, 3:18.91 in the 200 free, 8:57.18 in the 500 free and 1:29.85 in the backstroke along with swimming on the 200 free and 400 free relays. He completed four years on the varsity tennis team this spring, winning 15 matches as part of the second doubles team.

As busy as he was in school, Ingham was also active outside the school. He volunteered with the American Legion Smith Warren Post 367 in Scottsville, with the youth group at Union Presbyterian Church and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 372 where he earned the Eagle Scout rank. He was a swim instructor and lifeguard for Wheatland Recreation. He works on the family farm that he established with his brother Corey this year; Ingham Farm grows hay and alfalfa.

Ingham has received numerous honors. He was on the High Honor Roll all four years of high school and was the Scholar Athlete recipient for cross country, swimming and tennis. He was named a delegate to Boys State in 2021. He received the American Chemical Society Award, the Notre Dame Junior of the Year Award, a Monroe Professional Engineering Society Scholarship, the Etta Fraser Miller Fund Scholarship and the Greater Wheatland Chamber of Commerce Award, the New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, the Thomas J. Connor Scholarship, Wheatland Historical Association Scholarship, a President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the U.S. Army Scholar Athlete Award.

Among the people who have inspired him, he counts as his biggest mentor his brother Corey.

“He really got me into surveying and helped me get an internship with Ravi Engineering and has also helped me get hands-on experience at Alfred,” Ingham said. “There have also been many teachers who have influenced me but one of the biggest is Mr. Glass, my history teacher and cross country coach. In class or on the cross country team, he pushed me to always put forth my best effort and achieve things, even if at first, they seemed hard.”

Among his favorite memories are being part of his after-school activities.

“Being part of the cross country team, the other sports teams and other groups at school was wonderful,” he said. “Being at a small school like this was a privilege.”

Gocher, the son of Donna and Jon Gocher of Chili, has enrolled at Monroe Community College in its applied tech program, which is a one-year certification, so that he can go into precision machining.

“I haven’t taken any classes related to it in school, however, Wheatland-Chili and Churchville-Chili have a combined First Robotics team and I became open to the field and got my foot in the door in the field through that,” Gocher said. “It’s been in the back of my mind ever since. The other reason I am drawn to it is eventually my dream career would be as a mechanical engineer. I have a cousin in precision machine and he said it is a lot of what a mechanical engineer does, read blueprints and design parts.”

Gocher had an academic average of 97. He took three AP courses: U.S. History, Biology and Music Theory. He also earned credit for three Project Lead the Way courses: Design and Drawing Production, Digital Engineering and Principles of Engineering.

Among his school activities, Gocher was a member of National Honor Society for two years, serving as its secretary as a senior, and played clarinet in the concert band. He played bass in the jazz band all through Middle School and High School and played bass in the school musical’s pit band. He was on the varsity swim team as a freshman and played tennis from his freshman through junior year. He was involved in the International Club until his junior year.

Outside of school, Gocher played travel soccer as a freshman and sophomore. He worked at Cracker Barrel last summer. He plays in a band with a couple of his friends. Because he likes modifying and taking things apart to understand how they work, he does a lot of repairs for other people, including teachers and friends at school.

Gocher received scholarship awards from Rochester Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a junior. He has also received numerous academic department awards at school, a New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, a President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence.

The people he admires the most are his grandparents, particularly his two grandfathers.

“They both started with nothing and were able to raise a family and own a business,” he said. “They seized opportunities that they were given and I admire their resilience and they have inspired me to work hard.”

His favorite high school memory is the senior trip to Virginia Beach.

“It was just such a fun time,” he said.

©2022 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel

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