BRISTOL - As Molly Watstein prepares to graduate, she has her eyes on the skies.
The daughter of Lauren and David Watstein, she is valedictorian of the Bristol Central High School Class of 2017.
She plans to go to Wesleyan University to study astrophysics, then go on to get a Ph.D. and do research for an organization like NASA or SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars.
Watstein said she would have loved to have had the chance to apply to be an astronaut on SpaceX’s planned Mars mission.
“I’m most interested in studying black holes, dark matter, and cosmology, which is the study of how the universe was formed and came to be the way it is,” she said. “Going into the fields of astronomy and astrophysics is a really excellent opportunity to always be learning something new, because we know so little about it.”
She said while in high school she enjoyed a little bit of every subject, “although I’m definitely biased toward the classes that I like the teachers for. I’m definitely not a chemist but AP Chemistry was a blast with Mrs. (Laura) Landro. I’m loving AP Physics this year with Mr. (David) Brewer, and Latin is always great with Mrs. (Kelly) Monahan-DiNoia.”
Watstein said she took Latin for all four years, is a member of the Latin National Honor Society in addition to the National Honor Society, and earned multiple honors on the National and State Latin exams.
Other Advanced Placement courses she took at BCHS include AP Calculus B C, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature, AP Music Theory and AP Statistics.
She has also been busy outside the classroom. She participates in RAMbassadors, a peer mentoring program that pairs seniors and freshmen, and co-hosted the InterAct Club’s Mr. BCHS Pageant this year.
In addition, Watstein plays violin, guitar, and bass guitar, and is a classically trained soprano. “I’m in Madrigal and Bell City, which are two of our specialty choirs here, and I’m in the general choir as well,” she said.
She was chosen for the Connecticut Music Educators Association All State Choir twice and the CMEA Northern Regionals Choir for four years.
Since freshman year she has been involved with the Drama Club and is currently club president. She recently played Wednesday Addams in the club’s recent production of “The Addams Family” musical and last year she played Rizzo in the production of “Grease.”
She has also been a student leader in Unified Theater, a program that brings together young people with and without disabilities, of all backgrounds, to stage productions entirely organized, written, and directed by the students themselves.
“One of the focuses of the program is peers leading peers. We have all types of kids come in, we help write skits, and then we put on a performance or we do a dance with sign language. It’s really nice,” she said.
At BCHS football games, that’s her in the Dennis the Ram mascot costume. Inside the costume, it’s hot and smelly, and visibility is limited, she admitted.
“You can only see straight in front of you, so little kids would come up and want to high five me but I couldn’t see where they were,” she said.
Still, she had fun playing Dennis, and is looking forward to choosing her successor “for the passing of the ram’s head.”
One thing she said she will miss about high school is having sushi with teacher Lea McCabe.
“She was my freshman year History teacher, but she’s more than just a teacher she’s a very close friend,” Watstein said. “She builds the sets for our theater productions, and every opening night she would buy us sushi. It has become our little tradition, so we keep saying to each other that when I graduate we’re going to continue our tradition and have lots of sushi dates.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.