BRISTOL BOROUGH >> “Work hard in silence; let your success be your noise.”

Kayla Marie Ruiz, Bristol High School Class of 2018, was aware of her competition, but she never obsessed about rivals.

Kayla possesses an admirable drive to be challenged, a tough and demanding inner critic and a truly optimistic perspective. She is ambitious, unique and driven and she earned the distinct honor of being the Bristol High School valedictorian at commencement.

This small town Bristol Borough girl was acknowledged by 6ABC in their Best of Class event.

For more than 30 years, 6ABC has coordinated The Best of the Class Event, a free daylong celebration of academic achievement inviting the high school valedictorians from Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Northern Delaware to celebrate, this year in the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. The program aired on 6ABC on Saturday, June 9.

Back in September, Kayla was a most serious, purpose-driven student, ranked in the top of her class, as well as an accomplished, adept athlete. She successfully filled the front line as offensive centre forward on the BHS field hockey team. “I went from ninth grade knowing nothing about field hockey to playing one of the most important positions.”

At that time, she had begun exploring colleges in PA. “I want to stay in-state” and she was “leaning toward Chemistry major”. She remained positive and always looked forward.

This spring, as the BHS Track & Field Captain, Kayla passed the baton at the Penn Relays and last month, she and her dedicated team earned 3rd place medals for their 4x100 relay at the PIAA District Competition at Coatesville Area HS, running 53.02, their season best.

“I ran a few 400s and Mr. Jones wanted me to do 800s but they weren’t really my race.”

Kayla truly valued Mr. Jones as her coach. “He can be very strict but does it for our own good. He challenged us and is so passionate about Bristol.”

Retired Bristol Borough policeman Corporal James W. Jones has been the BHS Track & Field head coach for 20 years. He is quite proud of his athlete.

“So many adjectives I could use for Kayla,” said Jones. “She was the heart of that relay! She was always there and worked hard at practice. Couldn’t have asked for a better athlete! Great young lady and I know she’ll go far.”

She had begun intense physical activities with cheer dance and lyrical dance lessons at the Stepping Stone Dance Studio in the historic Grundy Commons building. “Ms. Dana was enthusiastic every day!”

Kayla has exhibited mental toughness, endurance, and an unbeatable work ethic. She selected the most rigorous courses and remained stellar in the classroom, earning a cutting edge over the competition.

Math was always a favorite! “It comes easily to me and there is only one answer for it,” says Kayla.

But she probably didn’t spend every waking minute of her time reading chapters, doing homework, and putting together study guides. Extracurricular commitments helped her boost her grades while she honed her time management skills.

Kayla volunteers yearly at the Puerto Rican Day festival; “It’s a family event!” and oftentimes helps her Aunt Carmen Ruiz with the minutes for the Puerto Rican Cultural Association meetings at the Bristol Borough Hall. She is dedicated to its preservation and promotion.

The 47th Annual Puerto Rican Day Festival of Bristol will be held on Saturday, July 28th, 2018.

Kayla is also a member of the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Group Los Jibaritos de la Isla. “We go around the Bucks County area and dance at events.”

She helped prepare the Borough for the Small Business Revolution team, assisted the children at the Holiday ‘Breakfast with Santa’ and the ‘Shop with A Cop’ events, arranged food baskets to distribute at Thanksgiving, volunteered at the Borough’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and parade, and helped during the Hall of Fame dinner.

As a member of the BHS Drama Club quality theatrical experience, she appeared in the high school performances of the musical comedy, “Once Upon a Mattress”.

She was also one of the dozen students involved in the Garden and Green Technology Club summer camp in 2015, made possible with a $5,000 grant from SCA, a global hygiene-products company.

They filled the courtyard at Bristol High with raised beds, arbors, a fountain, a pond, and vegetables of every variety. “I feel that it’s important to give back to the community because the community makes you who you are and they give to you, so it’s only fair that you give back to them.”

Her life after classes was literally filled with school activities, sports, and community service.

Only when one’s body is strong can one perform at the highest level!

Kayla exhibits some outstanding qualities that have made her parents, her teachers and her coaches very proud of her. She is a well-mannered and diligent student who is willing to share her appreciable talents and admirable qualities with others.

Her role models?

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” - Albert Einstein

Kayla has had to overcome adversity just like many others and it added to the unique character that she has become today. She spoke of her parents using words like love, affection, caring, honesty, integrity, responsibility and many endearing terms that made them good parents who taught, not in words but in action. She thanked them for overcoming their own obstacles and always being there for her.

Her father, Rafael Archangel Ruiz is a machine operator at Delaware Valley Scrap Company on Beaver Dam Road. “He works so hard. I appreciate his sense of humor and he is so friendly and kind to everyone. I try to be a positive person like that.”

Her mother, Luz Selenia Mercado works as a distribution specialist at Office Depot OfficeMax. Both of her parents were born and educated in Puerto Rico and they met in Bristol through a family member.

Her brother Rafael Ruiz, Jr. and her sister, Erika Ruiz were also Bristol HS students.

“My mother is my role model because she is an amazing woman. She encouraged me every day to work hard and she is always supportive of me and my decisions. She wants me to enjoy what I do.”

Kayla likes to make “sweets, especially cookies”. Her mom makes great empanadas. “They’re like Italian calzones; they’re fried shells with meat inside, sometimes ground beef or chicken.”

She has made her parents proud.

Kayla always earned Distinguished Honors and Commended Student of the Month recognitions and she was an active Student Council member at Warren-Snyder. She recalls decorating the “haunted hallway” one Halloween to entertain “and scare” the younger students.

She has been granted scholarships from the Bristol Lions and the Bristol Rotary and the National Honor Society. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.

Kayla will be packing and leaving late this summer for Ursinus College to major in Bio-Chemistry in the interdisciplinary Biochemistry and Molecular Biology [BCMB] Program. “I am not interested in touching human organs. I will study and do the research.”

She has always had a natural curiosity or inquisitiveness about the world around herself.

When Kayla was a young student at Warren Snyder-John Girotti Elementary School, the Heritage Conservancy kicked off its first ever BioBlitz, an ecological survey during which teams worked together to discover and document as many species of plant and animal life as possible to better understand the ecosystem at the 33-acre Bristol Marsh Preserve in May 2013. “I wanted to go on this trip to be outside and to see different creatures and living organisms and also, aquatic insects.”

Ursinus College, consistently ranked in the top tier of National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report is located in Collegeville, PA. No more walking home after school.

“I feel so good. I feel happy and proud. But I will really miss her, yes”, her dad shared tearfully, “I’m gonna miss her every single day.”

One of her favorite memories is the Silver Bay, NY “Writer’s Voice” trip for the 10th grade Interdisciplinary Studies Class students, sponsored by the Advisory & Oversight Committee [AOC], which supports under the umbrella of the 21st Century Grant. This excursion encouraged the students to develop their writing skills with instruction and guidance from a published writer.

“We wrote poems and learned creative writing techniques and there were team bonding activities. We realized we were not all struggling on our own.” She realized then that friends she had from kindergarten had the very same challenges. “We all wanted to go back!”

Kayla graciously congratulated her entire Bristol High School Class of 2018! Valedictorians are much more than just good grades. She is thoughtful, kind, and genuinely nice to be around and obviously very proud of the 64 young men and women who were awarded over $800,000 in scholarships and grants, and the three who have chosen to serve in a branch of the armed forces.

Comparing high school to a maze, so many paths were available, this class valedictorian reflected upon the uncertainty many students faced as they progressed through their school careers.

“We’ve reached the end of one chapter of our lives, and prepare to open another,” stated Kayla.

These students, promising students of today and aspiring leaders of tomorrow, are the future of our country.

“This class when challenged is resilient enough to push through, and determined to prove to everyone just what they can do! I am proud to call myself a Warrior; once a Warrior, always a Warrior.”

The future has been distributed. Knock ‘em ALIVE Bristol Warriors!

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