WMHS Co-Valedictorians: A Study of Similarities and Differences

Meet Francesca Malvarosa and Laura Standley.

Francesca Malvarosa is headed to Boston College. She hopes to double major in finance and Italian and minor in Spanish, then go to law school.

Laura Standley is going to MIT to study mechanical engineering – “for now, at least.”

Both have played varsity tennis at the high school for four years.

They also share another common denominator:  they’re the WMHS Class of 2012’s co-valedictorians.

Francesca got interested in the law in the third grade, at the Reeves Elementary School, she told Woburn Patch Wednesday, when the school superintendent took several students, including her, on a field trip to the courthouse here. She remembers seeing a female judge.

In high school, she volunteered at the State House. She started as a summer tour guide, once or twice a week. Now she interns in the office of Rep. James Dwyer. A lot of people she met there have a law degree, she said.

Francesca might want to practice international law – that’s how her interest in language ties in, she pointed out – or maybe business law.

This year she took four Advanced Placement courses and two honors classes – and left herself a class period for extra help with calculus.

Among her academic awards, she’s particularly proud of the Bausch and Lomb Scholarship she received for excellence in science.  She received it as a junior. “Never a fantastic science student,” in her words, she said she really has to work at that subject.

She also wrote an essay that won her a McKeown Award, sponsored by the Woburn-based Cummings Foundation. Thirty-nine of her peers also wrote essays.

She’s also proud of her Superintendent’s Award. The review committee took the top 10 students’ resumes, she said, and looked “at everything,” including community service.

Outside of school, Francesca will volunteer for the sixth summer in the Woburn Public Library’s Children’s Room. 

She’s taken dance lessons for 15 years, expects to teach ballet at the Y again this summer for the third year.

Time management is “something hopefully I’ve perfected,” she said.

She’s also volunteered with the Jimmy Fund Picnic for five years. She started to go to the picnic as a 7-year-old guest because, she explained, her sister, Giuliana, attended the picnic when she got treatment when she was 8.

That experience taught Francesca, the younger daughter of Stan Malvarosa, a florist at Malvy’s and Marianne Malvarosa, a hairdresser, “how to be optimistic.”

Laura Standley always “liked making things” – and “making them look nice when they work.”

“I always liked math and science,” she said. “They always came easy.” Both her father, Peter, and an aunt attended MIT. Her dad is a materials scientist, she said; her aunt, a geophysicist.  Her mother, Mindy, holds a degree in electrical engineering.

 Besides five advanced placement courses, she’s taking an art course this year.

Laura illustrated a recently-published book and took an honorable mention for a self-portrait in last year’s Boston Globe Scholastic Art show.  

She illustrated a children’s book written by her rabbi at her temple in Burlington, 40 small illustrations and the front and back cover. Her name “pops up on Amazon” with the book, she said, proudly. She’s also active in the temple’s youth group, this year as its president.

Co-president of the high school Anime Club, Standley painted a mural on the wall at the Senior Center that faces the office of veterans’ agent Larry Guiseppe.

A member of the WMHS Math and Science teams, Laura built a guitar for a science team event, using the school shop for the first time.

After keeping busy during her high school summers -- she attending a three-week science camp during two summers -- she  wants to take this summer off to “look over” some math and science and work on her art.

Ironically, the co-valedictorians also share several traits with salutatorian Soo Lim (Eunice) Park. They all played on the high school tennis team, Standley said. She is focused on art; Francesca, on music and Eunice on band.

Malvarosa already has her valedictory speech written. Standley was working on her speech, she told Patch Wednesday.

They’ll deliver them at graduation Sunday – weather permitting.


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