With her graduating class’s highest grade point average, the valedictorian this year at St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel is senior Skylar Johnson.

“It took a lot of hard work and late nights studying,” she said of her class ranking. “You have to be willing to take an extra hour to study or to do an extra assignment.”

Skylar will address her fellow graduates of the Pallottine Sisters-sponsored school on May 24. She is not giving any hints what she is speaking about: “I have several drafts and it (her speech) is a work in progress.”

A native of Columbia and a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ellicott City, Skylar said she chose to attend Pallotti because “I wanted a co-ed Catholic school, and (Pallotti) has a small, family-like environment that I like.”

She said Pallotti provides “an open environment where everyone understands the Catholic faith and is willing to have an open conversation about faith.”

During her tenure at Pallotti, Skylar was active in the school’s Union of Catholic Apostolate. The apostlate, based on the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti, is a student group that works to promote faith and charity among its members through service projects, retreats and other activities.

“My faith has always been very important to me, and I find a lot of comfort in my faith,” she said.

An avid softball player, Skylar was a member of Pallotti’s varsity squad and also participates in a softball club outside of school. She also ran cross country for her school.

She participated in several school musicals – including Oliver!, The Little Shop of Horrors, and the premiere of an original musical, Blink – and she served as the manager of the boy’s wrestling team.

“I wasn’t doing a sport at the time, and I like to keep busy,” she said, explaining her decision to manage the team. Her tenure as manager, she said, “was interesting and I learned a lot” about the sport. “I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but I know a lot about wrestling.”

Skylar is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. She plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall with an undeclared major. “It’s kind of up in the air,” she said of her future plans.