Samantha Potter failed one of her first tests in high school. Completely. It was a freshman year math class and coming out of the exam she already knew she had done poorly.

“I think I got the lowest grade in the class to be honest,” she said.

When she got back her low score, she immediately went in the next morning to talk to her teacher to see what she did wrong and how to improve. To Samantha, failure was just an opportunity.

“Everybody fails,” the high school valedictorian said in an interview this week. “It’s how you bounce back from that.”

She went on receive a high A in the class, and four years later is graduating in the number one spot of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Class of 2015.

Next fall, Samantha will leave the Island to enroll at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., but she begins cadet training as early as June 23. She will study there for four years before leaving to possibly attend graduate school and then serve for five more years in the U.S. Air Force.

Her path to the academy began in the eighth grade when she was exploring options for a career in service and came upon the Air Force Academy. She cites both her parents as large influences on her life and her decisions, but her mother, a former Marine, was the one who told her that if she was going to join the Armed Forces, she had to join the Air Force. Reaching that goal became a driving force for Samantha over the next few years.

Samantha has also anchored the girls' tennis team at the number one singles position. — Mark Alan Lovewell

But Samantha has always had a strong drive in her. In addition to her academic pursuits, she was on the tennis team as an all-star player since freshman year and also competes outside of school.

“If I’m not in school,” she said, “I’m probably on a tennis court.”

Her tennis practice doesn’t end until around four in the afternoon, not including any extra practice time she might have to do for extracurricular tennis commitments. But Samantha still found time to play the oboe and clarinet in the school’s orchestra (and the flute, but just “for fun”), not finishing her homework until usually around 11 at night.

Despite her packed schedule though, she still enjoys taking a few moments every now and then for books, music and video games. Her reading list looks like a syllabus for another AP course, packed with classics like Anna Karenina and Catch-22. Her music tastes heavily favor hard rock bands like Breaking Benjamin. And her favorite video game? Assassin’s Creed, of course, for its highly historical background, history being one of her best subjects in school.

Yet her scholastic interests are as broad as her extracurricular ones. Samantha has taken nine advanced placement classes during her time in high school in subjects ranging from biology to English to calculus.

“I love academics,” she said. “I don’t really know if I even really have a ‘favorite subject.’ Being there and learning new things is just so great.”

But notwithstanding her numerous accomplishments throughout her years of high school, Samantha is still quick to point out the help she has received from friends, teachers and classmates.

“We’re all so supportive here,” she said. “I know it sounds fake, but everyone’s like family, honestly.”

Teachers and peers have continued to make an impact on her. She is no stranger to getting help on homework from other students, as she in turn helps them. She went to her AP English teacher, David Wilson, for guidance in crafting her valedictorian speech.

“The teachers and the school have really given so much to me,” said Samantha. “They were the ones that helped me get here.”

Above all, though, she possesses a drive for excellence that has pushed her though many difficult situations.

“Part of me just wouldn’t be okay with not doing my best,” said Samantha. “Whether that’s on the court, or in the classroom, or with my music.”

She hopes to continue that drive as she prepares for college, even though she is still unsure of her intended major. She is enthusiastic and willing to entertain new possibilities about the future, which despite the organization of the Air Force Academy remains largely unknown.

“I’m excited to go,” said Samantha. “I want to see what’s next.”