Editor’s note: This is the 10th story in our 20th annual Standout Grads series about special graduates from the class of 2019. The series will appear on the front page every day through June 12.
Amy Salzer is not the typical embodiment of a high school leader.
She’s quiet and reserved, not someone who immediately stands out from the crowd, her teachers say.
But she’s also hard-working, reliable and kind. And its those qualities that make her an outstanding leader on the yearbook staff — albeit a quiet one, said Megan Thomas, yearbook adviser.
“That’s why I think it’s so cool: Unless you are literally sitting here watching her, you wouldn’t even notice half the things she’s done,” Thomas said. “She’s not the person standing up barking orders, but she makes sure everything gets done and other students have support.”
Amy joined the yearbook staff her junior year at the recommendation of one of her friends, she said. Though she didn’t think she would be a good fit for the class because she’s “not that much of a leadership person,” she gave it a try.
Yearbook allowed her to apply her passion for art in new ways, she said, moving her from her preferred medium of charcoal into a world of photography and digital design.
It also brought her out of her shell, she said.
“The first year I was extremely quiet. I didn’t really talk to anyone,” Amy said. The co-editors that year latched on to Amy, though, and “forced me to put myself out there. So I realized that was okay.”
As she shirked her shyness, Amy began to open up in class an as an artist. She said she saw her art change to and reflect her personality more than it had before.
You have free articles remaining.
Her art teacher, T.J. Frey, saw a similar transformation. Frey said Amy’s art became more “edgy” from her first art class to senior year. Amy’s witty sense of humor started to shine through in her artwork, Frey said.
“She will choose projects and subject matter that sometimes completely throw me off compared to the picture I’ve painted of her just form her behaviors in class,” Frey said. “It was fun for me to get to know her a little bit better every time she was in class.”
In addition to growing as an artist, Amy quickly picked up on the writing and design skills needed to create yearbook pages, Thomas said. After a year of making “great pages and always meeting her deadlines,” Amy was a clear candidate for co-editor, Thomas said.
Any said she never expected to be offered such a high-level leadership position, and she almost turned it down. But at Thomas’ convincing, Amy eventually “stepped up” to take on the role, Thomas said.
“She leads with such kindness and grace,” Thomas said. “She’s a quiet leader, but people listen to her. And she’s stepped out of her comfort zone to do this.”
In hindsight, Amy considers her decision to sign on as co-editor as her greatest accomplishment in high school, she said.
Thomas commended Amy for her willingness to take on high-pressure assignments, like prom, which happens just days before the yearbook publishing deadline. She also is highly supportive of the other staffers, regularly checking in to make sure they have what they need to succeed on their pages and meet deadline, Thomas said.
Though she finds disciplining her fellow students to be a challenge, Amy said she leads by “nudging people in the right direction” on their own assignments.
“She walks over and asks, ‘Hey, what can I help you with?’ ” Thomas said. “It’s cool to see a leader like that. I haven’t seen that in a very long time (at the high school level).”
Amy shows other students that even an average student can become an outstanding leader, Thomas said. “You don’t have to be a popular kid or a jock or an extrovert. You just have to want to accomplish the task and do it well.”