WTHS valedictorian sets sights on future

George Gerber to make environmental impact at Dartmouth College

WTHS valedictorian George Gerber delivers his speech at the commencement ceremony on June 13. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

George Gerber joined elite company on June 13. Not only is he part of the Washington Township High School’s massive alumni base, he was the class of 2019’s valedictorian.

Gerber, 18, old attended Washington Township High School by way of Bunker Hill Middle School and Birches Elementary School. The next school he will attend is Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to study mathematics and environmental studies.

As a junior in high school, Gerber took part in the GripTape Learning Challenge where he was given a mini grant of $500 to do an independent research study. He chose to do research on the environment and how sustainability can be achieved at the local level. To do this, he reached out to the environmental studies chair at Dartmouth College.

“The fact that he was willing to meet with me, a kid from Southern New Jersey, I wasn’t admitted or in his classes, I was really thankful for that,” he said.

Between that personal connection and close-knit culture of the aforementioned Ivy League school, the decision to choose Dartmouth was easy to make for Gerber. There are just over 4,000 undergraduate students at Dartmouth.

“There’s a lot of resources, a commitment to undergrad education that I really liked. That’s how I learn, working alongside my professor not just hearing them lecture for an hour,” he said. “I couldn’t find that anywhere else.”

As a high-schooler Gerber was involved with the stage crew and production teams for the fall plays and spring musicals. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing and reading – his favorite series is J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter.” He prefers his coffee iced with a splash of almond milk, his go-to food is a sofritas burrito from Chipotle.

Gerber is quite dedicated to protecting the environment, so much so that he became a vegan two years ago after watching a few documentaries and doing some research of his own.

“I dove right into it,” he said. “I like to look at stuff through an environmental lens, figure out what I’m doing and how to improve. I don’t want to do anything that damages the earth – I try to live in a way that’s low impact.”

Some of his fondest memories came from his time working stage crew for the musical, noting his friends were part of the production crew or in the cast. This is something he hopes to continue extracurricularly while at Dartmouth.

With the rank of valedictorian comes a speech at commencement. Gerber said he was a little nervous, but was excited for the opportunity.

“It was really fun, when you get to the podium, look out and see all the people – I’m very grateful for the moment to speak,” he described. “I was happy to do it, it was a cool moment.”

During his speech, he passed on some life advice from his favorite author, J.K. Rowling. He used her quote, “It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you’ve lived so cautiously you may as not lived at all. In which case, you’ve failed by default.”

As Gerber looks to start a new chapter of his life he will continue to use that Rowling quote as a benchmark.