Rachel Liebig and Sarah Jo Godnick have been friends since they were three years old. Through the years they’ve played sports, done homework and spent time socially together. Now, they’ll graduate side by side, ranked number one and number two in their class at Hartford Central School.
Liebig will walk as the second member of her family to be valedictorian; her older sister Bethany claimed the same title several years ago.
Both Liebig and Godnick, the class’s salutatorian, are completely immersed in their school community. Both have been on the volleyball and softball teams, the yearbook club and math league.
Godnick is also the president of the outings club and the secretary of her class. They both do their share of volunteering, as well.
“They’re both phenomenal kids. Sarah and Rachel are both strong academically, and they’re both extremely active in the schools,” their social studies teacher, Sean Farley, said. He couldn’t come up with enough affirmative adjectives to describe both the girls, and especially Godnick, whom he’s had more recently in class.
“Sarah is a great student; she’s pleasant, she works well with everyone and she asks questions,” he said. She’s going to go far with whatever she does.”
In turn, Godnick said she doesn’t “despise” school the way many of her peers do.
“Schoolwork is important to me, and I enjoy learning,” she said.
Farley thinks the two have done so well because they come from a strong home and are so involved.
“It’s family support and expectation, and I think it’s personal drive. It’s that little extra that I want to be the best, and it’s internal pride,” Farley said. “It’s school, it’s community and it’s extracurriculars.”
Liebig, too, attributes her success to the way she was raised.
“I’ve always had parents pushing me to do my best,” she said.
Her math teacher, Jessica Lourie, with whom she has worked closely, described her as the most hard-working student she has ever met.
“She goes to every means to make sure she always understands everything before she leaves. She’s extremely well-rounded, and that makes her very successful,” Lourie said.
The two are both pursuing nursing degrees when they go to college in the fall. Godnick will attend Nazareth College in Rochester, while Liebig will go to Russell Sage in Troy. Liebig was able to get some exposure to this career through her time with New Visions health program.
Both say they’ve enjoyed what Hartford has to offer, especially its small size.
“I like the size of Hartford; you can always go to your teachers. Your teachers always enjoy your company, and you always enjoy theirs,” Liebig said.
Lourie said the two achieve for themselves, not for others.
“They’re not concerned with competing with other kids, just with how they’re doing as individuals.”
Another teacher, Tricia Stewart, said the same is true outside of the classroom.
“Sarah’s not as vocal as some of the other kids, and Rachel too, but I think they’re the quiet leaders of their teams,” she said.
And Liebig echoed this idea.
“You always have to strive to do your best, and as long as you do strive to do your best, whatever comes will be OK,” she said.