Lena Wood, Scarborough High School’s Class of 2021 Valedictorian. Courtesy photo David Wood

SCARBOROUGH — Valedictorian of Scarborough High School’s Class of 2021 Lena Wood, said she saw the past four years as an opportunity to explore different opportunities and find her passions.

Planning to study neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University this fall, Wood has achieved a variety of awards and recognitions in both athletics and academic outlets, she said.

Some noteworthy highlights were her involvement in track and cross country, where she was captain of the cross country team senior year, she said. In the academic decathlon, Wood’s team won the state competition her sophomore, junior and senior years, Wood being the second overall individual in her junior and senior years.

Also a member of the math team, Wood said that the team was first in the league all four years of her high school career, and the team was first in state her senior year.

“I got regional honorable mentions every year and was 13th overall individually in the state this year,” she said.

She said that the math team offered a opportunity for Wood to do what she enjoys, learning.

“Sophomore year I was chosen to be on the Maine team at ARML, a national math competition,” Wood said in an email. “It was cancelled my junior and senior years due to COVID. Although I would have qualified based on my ranking in the state. It was very gratifying to have done well enough in math team to have that opportunity, but more importantly, the experience itself was amazing. It was so much fun to spend a weekend doing math and spending time with a group of students who are so curious and passionate and intelligent. I grew a lot socially and academically during that trip, and really felt comfortable and like I fit in.”

In Wood’s freshman and sophomore year, she won a state Pi memorization contest, she said. After reciting 681 digits her sophomore year, she won free Portland Pie Co. pizza for a year and had the chance to throw the first pitch at a Sea Dogs game.

An independent learner, Wood said that the pandemic’s impact on her classes didn’t prove to be a negative experience.

“I actually kind of enjoyed studying more on my own at my own pace,” she said. “I had more time to pursue my interests.”

During high school, Wood learned how to balance fun with responsibility, she said.

“I feel like I’ve learned more how to balance things and enjoy the process a bit more,” she said. “When I was a freshman I was focused on being perfect in school and I was always studying and trying to get everything perfect. Now I’m more having fun, running and doing activities and finding the things I love and realizing it’s OK to spend time on different things and find a balance and enjoy myself.”

Even though she has regrets, Wood said she would not go back and change anything if she had the opportunity.

“I feel like having those little regrets and mistakes is part of the learning process and the journey, so I wouldn’t want to not have those bad experiences because I feel like they give more meaning to the entire thing,” Wood said.

Wood aspires to continue band in college, having played alto, tenor and baritone saxophone throughout high school, she said. She has attended both the Maine all-state and district honors band events.

In her spare time, Wood enjoys origami, which she has been practicing for 10 years, she said.

As she approaches college, Wood said she is excited to collaborate with top-of-the-line academics.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to learn with these amazingly talented students and professors and researchers, but also being in an environment like that is pretty nerve-wracking, a lot of pressure,” Wood said.

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