Top of the class

Meet this year’s vals and sals

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Suffolk County News asked this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians about impactful moments in their school lives and their future.

BAYPORT-BLUE POINT

Annelise Schreiber, valedictorian

GPA 102.2407 (weighted) 98.1296 (unweighted)

Boston University, mathematics and computer science

What impact would you like to make on the world by the age of 30?

You can never know for sure when you will accomplish certain goals—that being said, by the time that I am 30, I hope that I will have taken a good crack at leaving a worthwhile impact on my community. Throughout the next decade or so, I hope to gain the knowledge and resources necessary in order to influence my community in a positive way. Whether it be through the application of what I’ve learned in college, or just through the provision of my time to local causes, I hope that I can help people out however possible.

What teacher had the most influence on you and why?

Throughout my time in the BBP School District, I have been fortunate enough to have had multiple teachers over the years that have left positive impacts on me—and I will be forever grateful for them. However, I believe that the teacher that has influenced me the most was my fourth/fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Ventimiglia. Finding out that I would have her a second time was probably one of the most exciting moments for elementary-school-me (that’s how enamored I was with her). I can say without a doubt that she had changed my view on a lot of things for the better, due to how I grew as a person in her class. I was an extremely reserved kid, and communicating had definitely not been a strong suit of mine. However, the environment that she had cultivated and how she supported us as a teacher helped facilitate a more prominent love for learning in my life. I was able to break out of my shell more and be more passionate about the things that interested me. I will forever appreciate the time I spent in her class and wish nothing but the best for her.

What makes your graduating class unique?

In regard to what makes my graduating class so unique, there are a couple of things that come to mind. However, the trait that I believe truly makes my peers stand out from the rest is the pure resilience that we have exhibited throughout all the obstacles that we’ve had thrown at us over the years. Our community has unfortunately been through a lot these past few years due to COVID and other tragedies, yet we have bounced back every time. Kids in my class have been through it all, yet it hasn’t stopped us from engaging in rigorous academics, a multitude of clubs/sports, and contributing to our community in various different ways. My peers are not afraid to tackle any problem head-on, and we as a collective are not fearful of discussing issues that typically have a lot of stigma surrounding them—i.e. mental health issues, equality issues, etc. We genuinely want the best for each other and our community, and I think that is what makes our class so special.

Amanda Feldmann, salutatorian 

GPA: 101.6135 (weighted) 97.7115 (unweighted)

Syracuse University, forensic science, possibly adding neuroscience as well

What impact would you like to make on the world by the age of 30?

By the age of 30, I hope to impact my community in some way through the field of science, specifically forensic science or neuroscience.  I plan to explore both areas further in college, and then decide which one I would like to focus on.  If I choose forensic science, I would hope to help bring closure to families who have been affected by a crime.  If I choose neuroscience, I would like to help gain a better understanding of how the brain works and try to find new ways to treat neural damage.

What teacher had the most influence on you and why?

The teacher who has influenced me the most is my eighth-grade earth science teacher, Mr. Franke.  Before eighth grade, I never enjoyed going to my science classes and had little interest in the subject of science in general.  However, Mr. Franke always made class fun and interesting.  He incorporated a lot of hands-on learning, which is how I learn best, so I excelled in his class.  He also was the first teacher to truly feel approachable, and I felt comfortable asking him questions in class.  Thanks to him, science is now my favorite subject; I will be pursuing it in college, and I am no longer intimidated by my teachers, but willing to form connections with them.

What makes your graduating class unique?

What makes my graduating class unique is that we are proactive when it comes to issues about which we are passionate.  There have been countless times that something has come up that my class has disliked, and we have not hesitated to reach out to the appropriate people and see what can be done about it.  For example, this year we feel as though there has been an issue with the mental health of the students at our school.  Instead of simply talking about how awful it is, a majority of the seniors came together to create a group that would address this.  Due to the actions my class has taken, our school now has an organization that creates an open discussion with students about mental health and what kids can do to help themselves or to find help from others.

CONNETQUOT

Stephanie Chen, valedictorian

GPA: 103.99

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, computer science

What would you like your impact on your community to be by age 30?

By age 30, I hope to utilize technology to solve global issues, such as reducing poverty.

 Who is the teacher who has influenced you the most? Why? 

Mrs. Nunez has influenced me the most because she helped me build my confidence in writing.

 What do you think makes your graduating class unique? 

My graduating class is unique because of our diversity in our talents and how we use them to make a difference.

Evan Mistler, Salutatorian

GPA: 103.4

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, chemical engineering

What would you like your impact on your community to be by age 30?

By age 30, I hope to be a part of the creation of a new piece of technology that will positively change the lives of millions of people.

Who is the teacher who has influenced you the most? Why? 

My favorite teacher is Mr. Drinkwater, my chorus teacher. The most important things I have learned from him is to put my heart into everything I do and to respect each other.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique? 

I think my graduating class is extremely resilient. After two years of atypical learning, we were able to rebound and achieve greatness.

Sayville

Gene Weng, valedictorian

GPA: 107.6

Johns Hopkins University, molecular and cellular biology

What would you like your impact on your community to be by the age of 30?

I plan to help my community by becoming a scientific research mentor for future high school students interested in science.


Who is the teacher who has influenced you the most? Why?

The teacher who has influenced me the most was my AP Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Melissa Dreyer. I learned essential critical-thinking and study skills through her course. Also, Mrs. Dreyer gave me both the background and the confidence to pursue a career in science.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

I think my graduating class is unique because we have learned how to stay connected in many different ways. Through the lockdown, hybrid learning and quarantines, we learned how to persevere and reach out to others in difficult times.

Chad Moccio, salutatorian

GPA: 107.043

 Villanova University, statistics


What would you like your impact on your community to be by the age of 30?

By the age of 30, I hope that I will be fortunate enough to give back to my community through fundraising and local charities, especially ones through the school district because I will remember working hard to raise money during my time here in Sayville. 

Who is the teacher who has influenced you the most? Why?

My geometry and statistics teacher, Mr. Bannon, has influenced me the most because he was always such a positive person to see throughout the day and introduced me to a subject that I really enjoy.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

Our graduating class has been through an extremely abnormal high school, and experience with the pandemic, and we all can agree that it flew by. Because of this, I think we have newfound appreciation for every privilege and opportunity since we have seen firsthand how quickly things can be taken away.

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