Center Grove High School Class of 2017: The process, memories is what counts most to Varney

A central theme has been established for the valedictorian speech Ashley Varney plans to deliver inside the Center Grove High School gymnasium Sunday.

It’s about the road traveled and how friends — cliche as it might sound — can indeed be forever.

“I really want it to be something special and memorable. It’s mostly going to focus on the love and relationships that have turned me into the person I have become,” said Varney, whose 4.847 grade-point average places her at the top of the Class of 2017.

“It’s not about what I have achieved academically, but what I have achieved in terms of friendships.”

Varney started working on her speech early in May and is crafting it to be no more than five minutes in length. Based on the other goals she’s set for herself, odds are Varney will hit 300 seconds on the button.

The eldest of Bruce and Christy Varney’s four children, Ashley will be attending Purdue University and majoring in biochemistry. Her career goal is to work as a pharmacist at Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis.

She praises those closest to her for assisting in her development in all facets of life.

Varney goes out of her way to mention Center Grove teachers such as David Lawson, who taught Varney how to write, and science teacher Andrew Kominowski for influencing her career path. She also praises Penny Poynter, a retired teacher from North Grove Elementary School.

This is a small sampling of the people who helped guide her decisions, Varney said.

“My mom started reading to me when I was a baby. As soon as she brought me home from the hospital. I think that’s where it all began,” she said. “And there’s all my best friends. I want to make sure with my speech that I properly honor what my friends and family have done for me.”

At Center Grove, Varney is a student leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She’s also part of Spanish Honor Society and was part of the school’s Robotics Team for a couple years.

Away from Center Grove High School, she is a member of the Circle City Tap Company, where Varney serves as choreography captain. Thus, it is her responsibility to remember all the parts to all of the dances in order to help those who may have missed a practice.

Like school, dance requires discipline and time management skills, traits Varney feels she inherited naturally.

“I’ve always had a strong work ethic, and I’ve, this is going to sound bad, but I think I’m naturally gifted. Honestly, (the No. 1 rank in her class) is not all it’s cracked up to be,” Varney said. “When people find out that you’re (ranked) first there’s a stigma that comes with it like you’re stuck up. You’re snobbish.

“I hate that because people don’t take the time to get to know you.”

Ashley Varney wants to make the people who know her and have helped her in her achievements part of her speech, and she hopes touches their hearts the way they have touched hers.

“I came into high school feeling like I wanted to be valedictorian. I felt I had to prove myself, for the most part,” Varner said. “But now it is not nearly as important as the relationships that I’ve cultivated with my friends and family.”

Ashley Varney pullout


Name: Ashley Varney

Age: 17

Parents: Bruce and Christy Varney

Resides: Greenwood

College: Purdue University

Major: Biochemistry

Career goal: Either be a pharmacist or chemical engineer at Eli Lilly

If you go

What: Center Grove High School’s 2017 commencement exercises

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Center Grove High School gymnasium, 2717 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood


Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at