Palmyra salutatorian Livingstone sticks to recipe for success

Jayme Livingstone, Palmyra High School’s Class of 2020 Salutatorian, is a renaissance woman: she’s a scholar student, star softball player and professional baker who is currently learning her third language. She will study international business at the University of Delaware. (Photo provided)

If Jayme Livingstone had decided to spend the month of June having a pity party, few could probably blame her.

On Oct. 12, the Palmyra High School senior was chasing a loose ball on the offensive end during a soccer game at Holy Cross when she collided with a defender. She suffered a complete ACL tear and lateral meniscus tear in her left leg.

A year earlier, Livingstone also suffered a season-ending injury, fracturing her right tibia. But this year’s injury was also very likely going to rob her of the senior season of her primary sport, softball. The COVID-19 pandemic officially wiped away her chances of returning.

“My six-month clearance date was May 15,” she said. “It was really crushing, because there was a small piece of hope to get back for a little bit. It was devastating all around.”

Despite losing out on her final softball season, Livingstone, who reached the 100-hit milestone as a junior, hardly had an unproductive spring. 

She began to learn a new language (her third). She stepped up operations at her at-home bake shop, including delivering more than five dozen cookies to the staff at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. And Livingstone saw her hard work in the classroom culminate by graduating as Palmyra High School’s Class of 2020 salutatorian.

“I was really, really excited and honored when my principal informed me,” said Livingtone, who first found out about the honor a month ago. “I was sitting third in the class for most of the four years. So it was a really big moment, I feel like my hard work really paid off.”

Livingstone will continue her education at the University of Delaware, where she will study international business in the school’s World Scholars Program. Next spring, Livingstone will study abroad in Italy as a part of the curriculum.

It’s part of the reason that, with downtime this spring, she downloaded Duolingo and began teaching herself Italian. Livingstone had already taken several years of Spanish in Palmyra’s school system and studied German at Palmyra High, where she was a member of the German Honor Society.

“I like to think of myself as a really good student,” Livingstone said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I had to learn how to balance sports and school. Once I found that good balance and time management it was really easy for me to make sure I had time allotted to study, to make sure I was really paying attention in class, things like that. I love Palmyra High School and all of the teachers there, everything about it. So I definitely think that studying and paying attention was more fun for me than a chore.”

Among the teachers and educators that impacted Livingstone’s high school career were her AP calculus teacher, Alex Torrance, her student council advisor, Kim Martino, and her “insanely good” history teacher and softball coach, Ken Miller.

“He’s the one who taught me my sophomore year that we are 100 percent responsible for our work,” Livingstone said. “He didn’t really give us leeway. If we were late, we were late. And I think that accountability really made an impact on me in the beginning of my high school experience.”

When she considered all that was lost this spring, Livingstone still said softball was the biggest loss, with or without her ability to return from injury.

“There’s a family aspect of being together every single day — I miss those girls so much,” she said. “I miss my coaches, I miss my other captains. I miss Julianna Mackafee. She had 93 hits. This was going to be her year, she was going to have an insanely good season. I felt for her. Even if I couldn’t play, I wanted to keep the book and support my teammates.”

Livingstone used the time away from the diamond to dive into her other passion: baking. A Food Network addict growing up, Livingstone would watch the creations built on TV and then try her own in her family’s kitchen.

Posted by Livingstone's Homemade Desserts on Saturday, May 9, 2020

“When I was bored I’d throw a bunch of things in a bowl and see what came out of it,” she said. “I think as I got older my cooking definitely matured and I got it down to a science.”

The hobby turned into a business two winters ago — she made and sold 40-50 cookie trays last Christmas — and Livingstone’s Homemade Desserts churned out dozens of cakes and cookies for Easter and Mother’s Day this spring to help supplement Livingstone’s loss of hours at her job at Whistler’s Inn during the pandemic.

While most high school seniors might bemoan their spring semesters without a prom and senior trip, among other things, Livingstone is one who, when life gives her lemons, finds a way to make delicious lemon cookies.

“You’re in control of your perspective,” she said. “There are a lot of things that we missed out on and a lot of things that we lost, but we learned, I think, everyone had to grow up real fast in a short amount of time. And I think that maturity and independence, having to wake up and you don’t have teachers telling you what to do, you have to do everything yourself, and that’s kind of how it is in the real world. So I think that’s a lesson we all learned and I think we all benefited from that independence.”