Hannibal High School Announces its Valedictorian, Salutatorian

Lena Turaj: Valedictorian

Hannibal High School senior Lena Turaj propelled herself to the top of this year’s graduating class with hard work and an internal drive to excel.

Turaj, the daughter of Katarzyna Gonciarz and Daniel Turaj, said she has used a fear of failure as a motivator in her life. “I think that my success comes from the fear of failure and wanting to always reach for something better,” Turaj said. “I think it helps drive me to be a better student.”

That mentality earned her the title of valedictorian of Hannibal’s senior class, and there is no doubt she will take it with her to her next chapter at SUNY Brockport. Turaj plans on majoring in neuroscience and will also play soccer for the Golden Eagles. Ultimately, she would like to attend medical school and become a pediatric neurologist.

As Turaj reflected on her time at Hannibal, she noted she was grateful to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities and organizations. She was a three-sport athlete, playing soccer and both indoor and outdoor track and field. Additionally, Turaj was a member of varsity club, band, theater, and Section III SAAC.

“The school district has provided me with an immense amount of opportunities that have allowed me to develop into the student and person I am today,” Turaj said. “I have had support from all areas that allow me to branch out and better myself.”

Turaj encouraged her classmates to embrace opportunities and branch out as well.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things, it allows you to find what you really love to do, and sometimes you gotta fake it till you make it,” she said.


Chloe Joyce: Salutatorian

For Hannibal High School salutatorian Chloe Joyce, adversity has translated into opportunity, disability has become ability, and ordinary has become extraordinary thanks to an attitude of perseverance.

Although Chloe — daughter of Brian and Cari Joyce — was born with scoliosis and is unable to walk, she has not let that affect her goals as she has excelled academically and musically to earn the title of class salutatorian.

“If I had not persevered through all of the times that it got hard, I would have been nowhere near where I am today,” Joyce said as she also credited her family for her success. “They are my biggest supporters and fans and they have always encouraged me to work hard, be courageous and kind.”

Joyce took more than a dozen college credit courses during her high school years, setting herself up for success at the next level. In the fall, she will attend SUNY Oswego to study communications and psychology. She noted those fields will yield plenty of career opportunities for her in the future.

While Joyce was eager to look ahead, she also took some time to reflect on her high school years. She was involved in band, served as a class officer and was a member of National Honor Society. Those experiences, she said, have impacted her life.

“Hannibal has shaped me in so many ways,” Joyce said. “One of the biggest lessons that I learned from them is to not be afraid to try new things and to step outside of my comfort zone. I want to be known as the girl who tried new things and did not give up even though it would have been easier to do so.”