April 19, 2018
School & Youth
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  • HEADSHOT, Henry Roberts
    HEADSHOT, Henry Roberts

Broadneck Salutatorian Sets Sights On Space

Gracie Fairfax
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June 27, 2017

Broadneck High School salutatorian Henry Roberts didn’t think he’d finish high school in the No. 2 spot, despite holding that rank since his sophomore year. Part of him hoped he would end up in third.

“Obviously, it’s a great honor to be No. 2 and to be salutatorian and to speak in front of an entire class, but at the same time, I was also terrified of doing that, so a little part of me was hoping that maybe I’d slide into third,” Roberts said. “But it was great, I’m very happy.”

While Roberts believes he worked harder than most teens in high school, he thinks his ability to plan his classes helped to land him the title of salutatorian of his class of roughly 500 students.

“I saw my sister go through high school, and I saw points where her GPA dipped a little because she took maybe an honors class instead of an AP,” Roberts said. “I saw a more optimal route to getting a higher GPA through her experience, so I would say that I planned my years better more than I worked harder than everyone.”

In addition to his planning abilities, Roberts credits his parents, teachers and coaches for their influence on him both personally and academically.

“They are probably the No. 1 reason that I had good grades in high school and had good experiences,” Roberts said of his parents.

Beyond supporting him in his high school endeavors, Roberts’s parents were an inspiration that led him to choose aerospace engineering as his intended major at Virginia Tech. Both of his parents used to work for NASA, and his father, who now owns his own company, is a rocket scientist and a Virginia Tech alumnus.

Since his father attended Virginia Tech and he has visited the campus many times, Roberts already feels at home on campus. In addition to the school’s strong engineering program, he looks forward to the sports, the social life and the food.

“They’ve got the No. 1 [college] food in the nation – that’s a big plus,” Roberts said.

As he leaves high school behind and looks forward to college, Roberts looks back fondly on his memories, one highlight being the four years he spent playing soccer — one year on junior varsity and three years on varsity. He also served as an officer and as a treasurer of the Interact Club — a community service extracurricular. Other commitments included the National Honor Society and the Math Honor Society.

While he has always thrived academically, high school taught Roberts how to be more outgoing.

“Going into high school, I was a little more hesitant talking to others, but now I feel a lot more confident in myself and I know that I’ve grown through what I’ve learned from older teachers and coaches,” Roberts said.

One particular coach who influenced his life was his JV coach Brandon Rowe.

“Henry is a talented soccer player, an exceptional student and a gentleman. He is humble and confident, has a great sense of humor, and is well respected by his friends and school faculty. As a freshman on the JV soccer team, Henry was one of our most skilled players and leading goal scorer, but also one of the hardest workers on the field,” Rowe said. “I really enjoyed coaching Henry because I trusted him; he was extremely smart, showed great character, worked hard and displayed leadership everyday with his calm, composed demeanor. Broadneck was lucky to have a student-athlete of Henry's caliber. … I'm extremely proud to say I was his coach.”

Although from the outside, Roberts seemed to have high school down to a science, he still faced many of the challenges the majority of high school students can relate to.

“[My] greatest challenge would probably be getting up every morning,” Roberts said. “The brutal 7:17 mornings were not easy, especially as senior year progressed.”

Before setting his mind in the sky as he studies aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech, Roberts plans to spend his summer catching up with friends and playing casual sports.

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