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Ledyard senior dances, sings, plays tennis and sees politics in her future

Ledyard — "And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance," sings Lee Ann Womack in her iconic country song "I Hope You Dance."

Well, that's a motto 17-year-old Rachel Kane has certainly taken to heart. She's danced and a whole lot more.

Later this month Rachel Kane will graduate from Ledyard High School, leaving behind a legacy that's hard to miss. She was captain of the tennis team, a member of the Select Singers Choir, president of Amnesty International, and an accomplished dancer at The Hartford Stage, just to name a few of her accomplishments. And on top of all that, she'll also be graduating a Ledyard Scholar because of her high academic achievement.

It's a lot to be involved in and required many late nights but Kane wouldn't prefer to have it any other way.

"I think the motivation originally going into high school was to load your resume for college but then I really started to enjoy the things I was doing," she said of her many activities. "I just find myself happier when I'm busier, and if there's ways I can help other people, then I'm having fun."

"You just have to go for things, you never know if you don't try," she added.

Kane credits her drive, dedication and desire to try new things to her mother, Sharon, who she said is her inspiration. She said her mom taught her "everything about standing up for what you know."

And that's something she certainly hasn't been afraid to do, even at a young age.

At just 11 years old, Kane, who is hearing-impaired, went to the state Capitol and delivered a passionate testimony before the General Assembly, advocating for a House bill that would aid in the education of deaf and hearing-impaired students by requiring schools across the state to receive a proper plan, support and devices for hearing assistance.

That legislation ended up passing, and the governor even invited her to the bill-signing and gave her the first pen he used to sign his name on it.

Although she downplays just how big a feat it was helping to get a piece of legislation passed, Kane did say the experience taught her a valuable lesson.

"It taught me that I have a voice even at such a young age, and that I should keep using it," she said.

Kane is showing no signs of slowing down in sharing that voice. In fact, the desire to continue to share her voice and help people was a driving factor in her decision about what she wanted to do after she graduated.

In the fall, Kane will be attending Marist College in New York, where she will study political science in the honors program. After she earns her degree there, she hopes to earn a master's degree at an Ivy League school and then go on to a career in politics, either working on a campaign or running for office herself.

"I'm just interested in how people think and in talking to people," Kane said of her passion for politics. "I'd just like to have a voice and be able to do something about what I see wrong in the country."

For those who know her, it's not difficult to see a potential Kane campaign in the future.

Leon Palmieri, an English teacher at Ledyard High School who has had Kane in his class during her freshman and junior years, described her as someone kind, intelligent, driven and humble, adding she's someone he sees doing great things both for herself and the public in general.

"She's a young lady who is very forward-thinking in her demeanor and everything about her," Palmieri said, adding that Kane is not one to seek credit. "She's constantly thinking of ways to change the world for the better."

"She's just looking to do the right thing," he added.


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