Willsboro Fans from the South Pacific to Willsboro watched Sunday night, Dec. 18, as Willsboro native Sophie Clarke endured physical and strategic challenges to become champion of the hit television show “Survivor” and win $1 million.
Town of Willsboro residents sat on the edge of their seats until the moment their hometown star was proclaimed the 23rd “Survivor” winner.
On her personal bio on the show’s website, Sophie wrote she is “skeptical of lionization of any one person,” but the people who watched her grow both in school and through the television screen are calling her a local hero.
From Albany, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) said she followed Clarke’s progress on the show through her family members in Willsboro, and called Clarke a local hero.
“I always thought from the very beginning that Sophie would win,” Sayward said. “She is strong, smart, and driven. It didn't surprise me at all that she won. It’s wonderful.”
At Clarke’s alma mater, Willsboro Central School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said students and faculty were all talking about “Survivor” Monday morning.
“Sophie’s success has united our school,” Broadwell said. “The whole school was buzzing this morning, students and teachers all excited for Sophie’s success.”
Clarke’s former teacher said he saw her potential from a young age and she followed through with this challenge.
“I’m proud of her,” Wally Vanderhoff, math teacher and former dean of students at Willsboro Central School said.
Vanderhoff said he has known Clarke since she was in the fifth grade and said she had always strived and succeeded at being the best at everything, from being valedictorian to captain of the soccer team.
“She’s an outstanding young woman,” Vanderhoff said. “She was always thinking in great depth to challenge herself, her classmates and even her teachers. She always wanted to know more.”