By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the Columbus Class of 2020 zooms through the Homestead-Miami Speedway for a special graduation celebration later this month, Patrick Valerius will be there ready to cross the finish line.

“Feels good,” he said. “Feels not the way that I would’ve expected, but I’m glad I’m moving onto the next chapter of my life and I’m excited for college.”

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And Patrick had his pick of colleges.

He was accepted to UF, FSU, Fordham, Loyola, the University of Maryland, Penn State, Villanova, and Colgate University.

Today’s “Senior Spotlight” shines bright on this accomplished lacrosse player, who was competing at the varsity level since his freshman year.

Patrick and his teammates won the district title this past year, and he did it all while maintaining great grades.

“Being able to do that while also balancing my schoolwork as a Mas Scholar and taking more rigorous classes like AP classes and participating in the AP Capstone diploma as well as receiving a National Merit Commendation was able to get me the Scholar Athlete Award,” he said.

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Patrick was a Silver Knight nominee in the art category and he created a program that helps the environment.

“I founded the Miami Sustainability Project in my junior year of high school,” he said. “I made changes in the school cafeteria by getting rid of plastics and other harmful environmental products and replacing them with paper products that are biodegradable and using PLA, which is a plastic substitute made from corn. And by doing this I was able to save 4,000 pounds of plastic a year.”

He hopes to see the program expanded to other schools in the future.

For now, though, he has some advice for the rising class of 2021.

“Always try your hardest,” Patrick said. “Always do as much as you can in high school because it’s only such a short amount of time and you’re going to miss it once you’re out of it.”

Patrick will be attending Colgate University in the fall as an “Alumni Memorial Scholar.”

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He plans to major in mathematics and economics and pursue a career in finance.

Lauren Pastrana