Considering all the accomplishments Sparks senior Gabby Durante has already achieved during her four years of high school, it could be easy to think that she might be one of the victims of hitting her wall of greatness. But anyone around her doesn’t believe that for a second.
More importantly, neither does Durante. The Sparks High salutatorian has big plans with her life.
“I’ve always wanted to strive to be the best and be very successful,” Durante said. “Helping people along the way is just a bonus. I love doing it and it just comes naturally.”
Durante likes being involved, participating in anything from student government to prom committee to volunteering to help the elderly or children.
As recently as Thursday night, Durante and fellow student-athletes hosted a beauty pageant for guys called Mr. SHS in order to raise money to buy books for other schools. The students also go out and read to children.
Due to her community service, playing varsity volleyball and softball and her 4.0 grade-point average (4.97 weighted), Durante was recently named one of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s top 10 student-athletes in northern Nevada. The awards ceremony was Wednesday night at the Silver Legacy. All 10 winners received $1,500 scholarships from Farmers Insurance and Lifetouch Photography.
“At first I didn’t think it was such a big deal. I didn’t think it was so big,” Durante said. “Once I was there and seeing all the people, it seemed like it was pretty big and pretty important. I had so much fun. I loved my table. I knew some of the other recipients. They put in as much work as I have if not more and it was just great to see everyone being recognized for what they’ve done.”
Durante will attend Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. next year, where she plans on playing soccer and softball. She said she felt a comfort level at the school due to the coach and knowing several Sparks High grads have gone to Lassen and they could help her out.
For her two years at the community college, Durante plans on getting her core classes out of the way and trying to figure out what area she wants to pursue, although her mindset right now is something involving psychology or therapy.
She hopes after two years at Lassen, she can transfer to a school where she can continue to play softball. If not, she will still transfer and continue her major.
Durante might not have become the person she is today without the influence of Ms. Cox, a teacher at Sparks Middle School.
In eighth grade, Durante was placed in a lower level English class due to a low placement test score.
“She pushed me really, really hard to go above and beyond anything that I could do,” Durante said. “She not only got me to love writing, but the fact she pushed me and got me up to that honors class, made me realize someone was there to push me and keep me going.”
While her time is winding down in the halls at Sparks High, Durante will still be able to enjoy watching her two adopted brothers, who are 9 years old, grow up. She loves being the aunt of her 10-year-old niece. And she will always be able to treasure her high school memories.
Durante still thinks back to when she was entering high school and was a full of nerves, but a group of seniors from her Spanish class took her under their wing and she never worried again. She also loved the senior nights during her sports seasons where she could finally see all her hard work pay off.
“My experience specifically at Sparks High School, I feel is different than other high schools. Sparks isn’t just a school. To me it’s like a second home,” Durante said. “I’m here 24/7. I’m sure if you walk in the office and you’re looking for me, someone could tell you where I’m at. It’s like a home. It’s not ‘oh that’s my teacher.’ It’s more like ‘oh that’s my brother.’ When I need somebody to talk to, I can talk to him. It’s just a really comforting environment where I feel any student can feel welcome.”