‘Don’t beat yourself up,’ Class of 2023’s top grads offer advice

Marblehead High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian will both miss the ocean when they leave for college in Indiana and Colorado at the end of the summer, but they are looking forward to the next chapters in their lives.

MHS Valedictorian Yasen Colón, right, and Salutatorian Cate Trautman organized a blood drive at school recently. COURTESY PHOTO

Valedictorian Yasen Colón is heading to Purdue University to study aerospace engineering. Salutatorian Cate Trautman is going to University of Colorado Boulder and its engineering honors program.

They’re both excited to have been named the students with the highest GPAs (grade point averages) in the MHS class of 2023 and to speak at graduation on June 9.

“It’s definitely a great honor,” said Colón. “When you spend most of your Friday and Saturday nights working on a project, or tweaking an essay for a couple more points, or studying for a test instead of relaxing or partying, it’s nice to be recognized for those efforts.”

Colón is president of the National Honor Society at MHS and Trautman is vice president.

Marblehead memories
Both students have fond memories of their 13 years in Marblehead schools.

“One of my favorites was being part of the 4X20 meter relay team that qualified and ran at New Balance Nationals this past March,” said Trautman, who was captain of the high school’s indoor and outdoor track teams.

MHS Valedictorian Yasen Colón and Salutatorian Cate Trautman work on a problem in physics. COURTESY PHOTO

Colón says he’ll remember “the hours I’ve spent singing in elementary, middle and high school, both during and after school. I cherish the bus rides to Plymouth to sing a couple songs for another school, the late rehearsals and, of course, the performances where we get to have fun and celebrate our hard work.”

They both say that AP Physics with Mr. David Zalonowski was their favorite class in high school.

Don’t miss out on the now

Colón has advice for younger students. “Stay in the moment. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking about the future, about what comes next, especially in high school. If you get too far ahead of yourself, you start missing out on what’s happening in the present. The more I look back at my life, the more I realize this truth.”

Trautman added, “Don’t beat yourselves up if things don’t go as expected.”

Colón, who is a student pilot at Beverly Airport, is looking forward to flying at Purdue’s airport. Trautman is excited to hike and ski in the Rockies.

From the Atlantic to a cornfield, mountains

But what will they miss about Marblehead?

“I’ll miss my family,” Trautman said. “I have a big extended family, all in town. And definitely my dog, Khaya. Not having the ocean is going to be weird.”
Colón agreed. “I’m going to school in the middle of a corn field! I wanted the change of scenery but I’ve always lived next to the ocean. I’m definitely going to miss it.”

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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