Head of the class, in more ways than one; Valedictorian Bazikian named state Scholar-Athlete
When Lydia Bazikian was informed by Weehawken High School athletic director Richard Terpak that she was the recipient of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete award, Bazikian was more than simply stunned. "I really thought that Mr. Terpak made a mistake," Bazikian said. "I didn't expect it at all. I mean, I play the sport (volleyball), but I don't consider myself to be a great athlete. I was totally shocked by it." Bazikian was one of 245 students who received the honor from the NJSIAA at the annual awards luncheon held at the Pines Manor in Edison Sunday. To be considered for the Scholar-Athlete award from the state's high school athletic governing body, a student must have participated in a varsity sport for more than one year while maintaining a grade point average of better than 3.0. Each school that has an eligible candidate is allowed to select one student, but not all schools have an eligible candidate. The grades have never been a problem for Bazikian, who is ranked No. 1 in the senior class at Weehawken and is expected to be the class valedictorian at commencement exercises next month. But Bazikian has never thought of herself as a great volleyball player. However, her determination to make it back to the nets last season was also a determining factor in her receiving the award. After participating in volleyball as a sophomore, Bazikian had to sit out her junior season because of a bad case of tendinitis in her knee. "I really didn't want to miss any time from playing," Bazikian said. "But the knee was so bad that I couldn't play. Considering it was my senior year, I really wanted to come back to play this year. I felt like I was getting a second chance to play and I was hoping that I didn't have to back out because of the knee. Being able to come back made it all more enjoyable. I just wanted it to last." Although there were several candidates to receive the award in representing Weehawken, Terpak said that he had no qualms in selecting Bazikian. "Lydia Bazikian is every parent's picture perfect child," Terpak said. "She's just a really great kid and a sweet kid. She's a religious person and that takes courage in today's day and age. She doesn't force her beliefs on anyone, but she's definitely one to stand up for her convictions." Terpak added, "Her coach, Annette Nunziato, said that she felt that Lydia made a solid contribution to the volleyball team and was a solid player throughout the course of the season. We did have some competition for the award, but we chose Lydia." Another student-athlete who received plenty of consideration was senior Ingred Wilson, who played volleyball and softball. Wilson is headed to Cornell in the fall. However, it is very rare when the school's valedictorian is also a solid athlete. "It's a tribute to Lydia's parents, because they have raised a special child," Terpak said. "They were very proud to see her receive the honor." "It's one of the first awards I've ever received," said Bazikian, who is bound to receive many more over the course of her final two months of high school. "What makes this one special is that it came totally out of the blue. It wasn't something I expected." Bazikian has two younger brothers, Obed and Daniel, who participate in sports. For now, she reigns supreme in the Bazikian household. "But they're better athletes than me," Lydia said. "Trust me on that one." Bazikian will head to Rutgers' Douglass College in the fall. This marked the 10th straight year that Weehawken has had a student worthy of receiving the top honors from the NJSIAA. "It's a tribute to the faculty and the coaches who work with the student-athletes," Terpak said. "Our students know that they're here for academics first and place a value on getting an education. They obviously realize the importance of education."