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Music and business drive Colton-Pierrepont valedictorian


MASSENA - Nicholas Avery was understandably a little nervous when told that he would be giving a speech at Colton-Pierrepont Central School.

Public speaking is, after all, one of the most common fears for humans. However, one would expect Mr. Avery to perhaps at least be a bit thrilled knowing that his speech was the result of being named valedictorian of the Class of 2013.

Perhaps the unexpectedness of the honor may have had the South Colton resident thrown off a bit.

“I wasn’t expecting to be valedictorian. Most people would be happy, but I was nervous about giving the speech. I was thinking, ‘What would I say during the speech?’ I was hoping to be at the top of the class, but maybe not valedictorian. I was not looking forward to giving the speech,” Mr. Avery said.

The son of Martin and Robin Avery has been in South Colton essentially his entire life and has been in the Colton-Pierrepon system since he started as a school young boy. His father is the plant superintendent at SUNY Canton, while his mother is a registered nurse at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Mr. Avery participated in many extra-curricular activities during his four years ogfhigh school at Colton-Pierrepont, including having roles in the high school musical productions and playing soccer, lacrosse, and basketball (earning Academic All-Northern Awards.)

His favorite activity outside of the classroom was actually something that wasn’t even a part of the school until his second year in high school.

“Ski Club was probably my favorite. Our school just got the club my sophomore year due to some parents. There was two or three very active parents who pretty much set everything up and wanted to get a club for these students,” Mr. Avery said.

Mr. Avery said his favorite parts of high school were “friends definitely and some teachers.” He explained that he had two favorite teachers and really enjoyed both of their classes for different reasons.

“English 12 with Ms. (Rebecca A.) Henderson-Howie. She made the class what it was. She made it a lot of fun, a good learning experience. She made the class fit everyone’s personality,” Mr. Avery said.

“My favorite subject was probably Jazz Improv. Mr. (Don) Washington was the teacher and it was really fun. (My) biggest influence was Mr. Washington. I had wanted to play an instrument. Mr. Washington came to school when I was 14; he got me into guitar. I fell in love with music at that point.”

The respect between Mr. Avery and Mr. Washington appears mutual as the longtime musician, who has performed all across the globe, has high praise for the recent graduate.

“Nick Avery is immediately a very likable student. He adjusts to situations very quickly. As a student, he is willing to try whatever is asked. He pretty much succeeded in anything he did. Around the building, he was very likable. His sense of humor is very quick and sharp,” Mr. Washington said.

Mr. Washington also credits his former student’s success to the “incredible support structure” from Mr. Avery’s parents. They have raised six other boys, many of whom Mr. Washington has taught.

Mr. Avery will be attending SUNY Potsdam in the fall and hopes to eventually study at the Crane School of Music. He will look to audition for a spot in the school next school year, but for now he is set for the fall.

“Basically my subject or major in SUNY Potsdam would be Business, and my minor would be Music Business, which would include management and stuff like that. I would say I’m excited for college. Even though I’ll be going to school in the north country, even though I’ll be in the same town, I’ll get the different cultural experience. I think you save more money when going to a school close, but get the same cultural experience,” Mr. Avery said.

“I probably won’t stay here after I graduate. If you want to make a decent amount of money, you kind of have to go out. I will probably be going away to get a job in the music industry or in business, but I’ll be coming back to the area definitely.”

With two big passions, music and business, Mr. Avery has a lot to work for and look forward to. “I kind of have this attitude where those tests online tell you what you’re going to be; people have told me I’d make a great boss. I’ve always wanted to run a business. When people tell me I’d make a great boss, that helps,” he said.

With a focused mindset and clear career goals, Mr. Avery will not only have the support from his parents, but also from Mr. Washington.

“Based on conversations with Nick, he’s very interested in improving the economy in the north country. He’s very attuned to business and jobs and the community. He had some very good ideas. He knows how business works. I think it is a natural fit for him,” Mr. Washington said.

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