As her book-length list of activities would indicate, Sarah Bond enjoys living life to the fullest.
Bond was this year’s Student Council president at Watkins Glen High School, and also her freshman class president. She has competed in volleyball and basketball. She’s belonged to the National Honor Society, art club, music club, foreign language club and the Interact service club.
She was involved in her school play. She devised the theme for her senior prom on May 14 — "a masquerade ball a la Phantom of the Opera," she noted. She took part in Model United Nations and was selected to attend Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in January.
Whew! And that’s not all: Somehow, despite this heap of commitments, Bond has found ample time to study — enough, in fact, that she has earned the distinction of valedictorian for her June 25 graduation.
Just how has Bond managed to take on such a load? On the one hand, "probably the reason I’m doing so much is I don’t like to say no," she said.
However, she added, "Everything I’m involved in, I love doing. So if you do love it, you make time for it." It also helps that Bond possesses a fierce inner drive: "If I have a goal, I persevere."
Bond, who turned 18 on May 6, added that good schedule-juggling is a must — "making sure that the big events don’t fall on the same day, deciding when things are going to be too much." Even so, she admitted that she’s occasionally gone to bed at 3 a.m. — on school nights.
"I’m used to being sleep-deprived," she remarked cheerfully, although she said she’s managed to avoid burning out or stressing out over the pressures of staying on top.
"The thing that helps me is having a very supportive family. They say it doesn’t matter if you’re first in your class or 50th, as long as you do the best you can do," she said.
Her commitment to excellence has naturally led Bond toward several leadership roles. "I definitely think I like things done in a certain way, and that lends itself to leadership," she explained.
In fact, as a sophomore Bond was the youth representative on Schuyler Catholic Community’s parish pastoral council. She served as the council’s secretary — a role normally reserved for an adult — and occasionally lent her voice to discussions. On the topic of getting more people to attend Mass, she shared her personal experience by noting that despite being baptized Catholic, she — like many others — fell out of the practice despite enjoying church.
"Usually they don’t mean to stop coming regularly. It just happens," she said.
Bond went through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults three years ago and has since been regularly involved at the Schuyler cluster, taking part in youth group as well.
"I’m very happy to get back on track," she said, adding that she loves her parish setting: "In a community of believers, you feel a lot less alone. It makes life more enjoyable to have something to believe in, and a concrete place to go for that."
Bond was among several hundred diocesan youths to receive this year’s Hands of Christ Award, given annually to high-school seniors who have displayed outstanding service in their school, church and community. She recalled that during the Hands of Christ service she attended on March 26 at Ithaca’s St. Catherine of Siena Church, "they made a big point that this (award) means that you carry God with you, and you do his work with your hands. That is a very good thing to be told."
Next up is the University of Rochester, where Bond will attend this fall on the prestigious Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Scholarship. "I’m very, very excited," she said. "I love the feel of being on a college campus — the youth, everything’s changing, innovation. I just like to learn anything and everything."
She will major in either biomedical engineering or biochemistry. And, although creative writing is being classified as her minor, literary pursuits are what stokes her deepest passions.
"My dream has always been to write," she said. "I like reading all the time — books that are uplifting, that help people realize some purpose in life, that help things get better — revolutionary books. In my greatest dreams and aspirations, those are the kind of things I want to write."
For all her lofty achievements, Bond also makes sure to engage in typical teenager stuff: "My favorite TV show is "Glee." I watch it every week. Me and my friends usually find an afternoon to go see a movie, or go down the (Seneca Lake) pier and talk."
Looking ahead, she can see herself either taking the world by storm or living a comparatively simple life right in Watkins Glen.
"On one level, I would love to go everywhere and I’d like to live in a city. But I’m definitely a small-town girl. I could see raising a family here," she said, noting that numerous family members live in the area.
No matter where she ends up, Bond plans to go through life with a consistently positive attitude.
"Ultimately, I’m seeing that every day you wake up and can decide to have a good day or a bad day — it’s your decision," she said. "I want to have a good day because you’ll be a lot more happy."