VARDEN—The Western Wayne School District Board of Directors recognized the outstanding efforts of two seniors at Monday's business meeting.

Rhianna Cook of Lake Ariel, and Annie Skirpan, daughter of Greg and Cathy Skirpan of Lake Ariel, were both honored for their superlative student records.

Cook, having returned to the district from attending school in Philadelphia for a time, maintained a rigorous schedule senior year to graduate on time.

“Coming back up here,” said Cook. “I didn't know if I was going to be able to graduate in time. But I had our vice principal, our principal and our counselors to show me that I was going to be able to do that. Now I am upholding an eight-period schedule and also seven credit-recovery classes.”

Throughout all this effort, she earned and maintained a place on the Distinguished Honor Roll.

An avid artist, Cook is a member of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS).

She is also part of the CATS (Community Attitude Towards Success) Club.

Active in the community, Cook volunteers in the school's athletic concession stands as part of the Varsity Club, mentors new students transitioning to the district, and tutors her peers as well.

She is also a member of the Church of Christian Compassion in Philadelphia where she is an active part of the Youth Choir and Ministry, the Bible study team and assists with the food pantry.

After graduation, Cook plans to attend Kutztown University to study Communications.

Noting she is in Child First Services, Cook expressed her gratitude for her tutor and everyone she lives with, stating, “...they have all been an inspiration to me All of you have been an inspiration to me. And, of course, Ms. Fiorella has been there for me, more like a mother, and I greatly appreciate it.”

Cook also thanked the district and administration for recognizing her and for all the help she received along her journey in Western Wayne School District.

Skirpan's academic rigor involved enrollment in five advanced placement (AP) courses including US History, English Language and Composition, World History, Biology with a lab and American Government.

Her academic achievement garnered her a place on the National Honor Society (NHS) for three years and the First Honor Roll for eight.

Extracurricularly, Skirpan has also been a member of the NAHS for three years, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Tobacco Free Youth, the school newspaper and marching band, all for one year.

A three-year member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club, Skirpan achieved state qualification in 2019 for Advertising.

Athletically, Skirpan has also found success on the indoor track team,, the track and field team, and the cross country team.

“I've been in cross country since Seventh Grade and qualified for states twice,” said Skirpan. “I was a member of the Lackawanna League All Star Team, all four years and was team captain two of those years.”

Discussing her experiences in track and field, Skripan explained, “I was on the All Star Team and captain for two years. My relay team actually medaled at states the last two years...and then last year we got third.

“And also, my teammates and I were given the opportunity to travel to North Carolina and run nationals which was really crazy. I was one of the only runners in the area to have this great experience.”

In her community, Skirpan has been a member of 4-H for two years and volunteered at the Scranton Marathon for five years.

She also volunteered her time at the Robert D. Wilson Elementary School at three annual Discovery Days and four yearly Read Across America events.

After graduation, Skirpan plans to attend the College of Charleston School of Business to major in Marketing and minor in Psychology.

“I'd like to thank the board, Dr. Barrett, my parents, my teachers, my coaches and the administration,” said Skirpan.

Western Wayne High School Principal Paul Gregorski congratulated both seniors and all the other students recognized Monday night (to be discussed in a future story).

Speaking specifically to Cook, he said, “Congratualtions Rhianna, you've been an inspiration to several of our students here...I really appreciate all of your efforts. As you can see, we have outstanding individuals and Rhianna is absolutely an amazing young lady.”

Board President, Bernice Fiorella likewise complimented those recognized, stating, “I am just so thrilled to be a part of Western Wayne School District...It's a true pleasure to be on this side and to fight for what our students need. And I am so grateful and I am so blessed.”

Speaking to Cook, Fiorealla added, “You have impacted my life and you have blessed me...I am so honored to know you. It's not easy to overcome challenges, and you have done it amazingly.”

Speaking to the group, the president stated, “We're all going to have struggles in our life. How we overcome them, says so much. So congratulations to all of you, because you've all dedicated yourself. You've worked hard to get where you are and so you all deserve a round of applause.”