Though students in the Burrell High School class of 2021 faced their fair share of challenges with the pandemic, they made it to graduation on June 10.
Two students in particular — Ian Oswalt and Reid Watkins — achieved much success in their senior year.
"Both Reid and Ian are two great kids," said Dr. John Boylan, principal at Burrell High School. "They both possess a tireless work ethic, and most importantly, they are very humble and so courteous."
Oswalt was a champion wrestler and reached state finals all four years of his career. With an impressive 166-24 record, he won four straight district titles and even won the Ronald Garrison Outstanding Senior WPIAL Wrestling award for his skill.
"I’ve been with the wrestling program since I was 8 or 9 years old," said Oswalt. " I’ve always wanted to be on the high school wrestling team, so coming up through the program and finally being done with it is really cool."
In addition to wrestling, Oswalt also shined in the classroom. He was a member of the National Honor Society and maintained a 4.21 GPA his senior year.
He will continue to follow his passion for wrestling at Brown University, where he hopes to major in the science and medical field. Eventually, he'd like to work in natural medicine and discover treatments for mental illnesses.
Watkins is another bright student, and she was the Vice President of the National Honor Society. In this leadership role, she successfully planned events to better the community, such as cleaning up Veterans Park and sending elementary students inspirational messages.
"It required a lot of time and effort, but being an officer came with a lot of beneficial life lessons," said Watkins.
Though Watkins was new to the district her freshman year, she quickly felt welcome thanks to the friendly teachers and students.
In addition to her role in the National Honor Society, Watkins was also a member of student government, the track team, and Interact Club, an organization focused on community service.
Now that she's moving on from Burrell, Watkins will be headed to the University of Pittsburgh to major in biology. After that, she hopes to attend dental school and become a dentist.
"Reid will make the University of Pittsburgh an even better place," said Dr. Boylan. "Ian is ready to be a model scholar-athlete at Brown University. They were leaders of the BHS Class of 2021 and so well respected by their teachers and peers."