By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
Adriana Purcell has developed great interests in a lot of subjects since becoming a student at Pope John XXIII Regional High School.
Out of all of them, the rising senior has gained a great appreciation for history. Within that subject area, there is one particular piece of information she feels can help her become the Queen of the Fair on Saturday night when she represents Hardyston Township as Miss Hardyston in the 2017 Queen of the Fair pageant at the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Frankford.
“I really love every subject, but history is definitely one of my favorites, and I have to read a book for Mrs. Burt’s class this year that’s all about the presidents and how a lot of them used history to get the upper hand in governing,” Purcell said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “So, I would love to interact with the people of Sussex County and get to know their history. I want to not only see the young kids who want to hold the scepter and tiara, but also interact with the middle-aged and older adults. It would be great to experience because I would like to one day come back here, help these people and make the county a better place in the future.”
Purcell, 17, would love to be named the Queen of the Fair — and be the first one from Pope John to earn the title since 2013 graduate Monica Abdul-Chani was named it in 2013 while representing Fredon Township as Miss Fredon. Purcell comes into the event two months after being named Miss Hardyston.
Purcell was still surprised she was chosen to represent Hardyston at the fair because she had spent a great amount of her time at Pope John over the last three years.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Purcell, who will compete in the pageant against 19 other girls from the county. “I didn’t go to my high school in my town (Wallkill Valley Regional High School), but this showed that I was able to make a great impression on my town and I did the right things at Pope John in order to get myself recognized both in my school and in my town.”
One way Purcell made a great impression on Hardyston was working for the township as a clerk. During her time, she was tasked with a filing project in which she had to sort through tax documents and files dating back to the 1920s and organize them.
“It was pretty interesting,” Purcell said. “Even though I don’t know the geographical history that well, just seeing how far we have come as a town and how we have maintained our community has been great for me to see.”
Another way she has impressed those in her town and at Pope John is what she has done academically and in the community.
In school, she has maintained a 4.3 GPA and above since freshman year. She is also the music director for the Theatre Program, a Eucharistic minister and lead musical cantor for Honors Chorus, the founder and chapter president of its Future Business Leaders of America, the treasurer of Key Club, a delegate in Student Council and a three-year captain of field hockey team.
Purcell said she was the most proud of starting the Future Business Leaders of America club and being a three-year captain for field hockey because of how tall those tasks have been.
“Getting (the Future Businees Leaders of America) club started in Pope John was a lot of work,” Purcell said. “Having to find a faculty adviser, get members, write and present a mission statement was tough, but it prepared me for responsibilities that may come my way in the future.
“In field hockey, that has shaped me as a leader,” Purcell continued. “I’ve had officer positions in other clubs, but it is not the same as keeping together a whole team of girls. I’ve always had to find ways to do what is best for the team.”
In the community, Purcell has logged over 400 volunteer service hours. She is a volunteer and coordination leader for Hardyston Township Community Garden plus a volunteer for Pass it Along in Sparta. She also took a mission trip to New Orleans to build gardens to feed the hungry in 9th Ward.
No matter what she has done, Purcell has followed a saying that she learned back in middle school.
“Our motto was ‘Good, better, best, never let it rest,’” Purcell said. “It really helped me personally because it makes me want to continue to improve myself and the next generation of people in my town, my school and the county.”
And, if she is named the Queen of the Fair on Saturday, Purcell will not only etch her name into the pageant’s prestigious list of queens, but will also begin the groundwork for her to make her mark on Sussex County.
“To be able to have this title and that type of impact will help make our county a much better place,” Purcell said. “This could be a great start.”