BRASHER FALLS - Before she entered kindergarten, Kimberly Oakes was reading books with her mother, father and grandfather.
Prior to first grade, she was solving three- and four-digit addition equations.
That love of learning and work ethic earned her valedictorian of the class of 2012 at St. Lawrence Central High School.
The whole goal was to do the best I could. Ive always had this strong self-motivation in me to keep going, Ms. Oakes said. My work has always been my focus. That pushed me to the top.
Ms. Oakes physics teacher, Darlene M. Bissonette, observed that work ethic.
If she finished her work early, she found something else to do, she said. She will be able to do absolutely anything she sets her mind to. Shes going to do something thats not even developed yet or made.
The smartest students in a class are not always the kindest, Ms. Bissonette said. That wasnt the case with Ms. Oakes, who was always willing to help her classmates work through physics problems.
Shes so modest about it and kind, Ms. Bissonette said. Shes as nice as you can get.
Ms. Oakes, daughter of Michael and Irene Oakes, Brasher Falls, has participated in New York State School Music Association, First Tech Robotics, National Honor Society, Horizons, Whiz Quiz, Spanish Club, Jazz Band and stage crew. She has received social studies and world languages awards from the U.S. Achievement Academy.
She plans to attend Clarkson University, where she will participate in the honors program and major in electrical engineering.
After Clarkson, Ms. Oakes said she hopes to land a job at the New York Power Authority. Staying close to her family is important to her.
You definitely feel a lot safer closer to home, she said.
Ms. Oakes credited her parents, older sister, and younger brother, Matthew, with inspiring her to work hard. She occasionally tutors her brother, 16, who is autistic.
Seeing him grow really helped me grow as well, she said.
Ms. Bissonette noticed Miss Oakes dedication to her brother.
She walks him to his morning class. She picks him up at the end of the day, she said. When she picks him up, his face lights up.
Ms. Oakes mother, Irene, remembered how she would always opt for the electronic encyclopedia instead of games when the family first purchased a computer. Her daughter has treated her 99.91 grade point average with humility, she said.
She doesnt brag that shes better than anybody else, Mrs. Oakes said. She helps anybody out with anything.
Kimberly often helped her brother during the summer so he wouldnt fall behind in his classes, Mrs. Oakes said.
Were very proud of her, Mrs. Oakes said. She takes pride in what she does.