Conversations with local vals and sals

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The Islip Bulletin reached out to local school districts and asked questions of their valedictorians and salutatorians about their time in high school and what they are passionate about.

Islip

Valedictorian Tim Mak

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Mak: My weighted GPA is 106.19. Throughout my next chapter in education, I plan on pursuing my undergraduate at Syracuse University, majoring in both finance and accounting, potentially acquiring a minor in supply chain management as well. After my undergraduate, I have been offered a conditional spot in Syracuse’s six-year B.A./J.D. program, so I will be studying law with the hopes of practicing business law after graduation, specializing in mergers and acquisitions.

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Mak: Throughout high school, Ms. Tsounis has influenced me the most. Her teaching practices have shaped my current style of work, whether it’s studying, learning, or just doing homework. The importance of organization and a strong work ethic was engraved into us from Day One, and I have to thank Ms. Tsounis for that.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Mak: I am passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes going to the gym or playing sports to keep your body in routine shape, challenging your mind to strengthen mental acuity, having fun to balance out work, and to obtain financial freedom. Distractions often cloud your judgment and steer away from such goals, but sometimes sacrifices must be made to stay on track. By prioritizing these values, one can have a long and enjoyable life.

Salutatorian Anthony Lopez

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Lopez: GPA: 105.13 Princeton University, chemical and biological engineering, recipient of The Gates Foundation Scholarship

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Lopez: My chemistry teacher, Mr. Sheehy, who has never failed to offer assistance when I need it most. Whether it’s helping with chemistry problems or simply being someone I can talk to, I could not be more grateful for his presence. I promise to make him proud as a chemical engineer.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Lopez: Having helped permanent residents study for their citizenship exam. For two years I volunteered at PRONTO, making study guides each week for every lesson after class. For my students, citizenship was their last obstacle in achieving the American dream. My job was to help them take their final steps towards the finish line. They taught me just as much as I taught them. I hope to help more immigrants in my future.

Bay Shore

Valedictorian Matthew Brewer

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Brewer: GPA: 104.4, College: University of Virginia. Major: Statistics

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Brewer: Mr. Carr, one of my high school math teachers, is someone who has influenced me the most. His passion for mathematics is beyond that of anyone I have ever met. Mr. Carr is one of the first teachers who showed me how to be passionate about the work I do and always strive to perfect the material I learn each day.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Brewer: I am incredibly proud about being named Bay Shore’s valedictorian. I have worked extremely hard in high school and put in a lot of work that may often go unnoticed. Earning this honor has made me proud of all the effort I put in.

Salutatorian Georgina Haspel

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Haspel: 104.17 (weighted), Davidson College, psychology major, dance minor

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Haspel: The teacher that influenced me most was Mr. MacDougal, who I was privileged to have as my English teacher for two years. He is a brilliant teacher and outstanding person. I learned so much from him, and his support and encouragement helped me to believe in myself.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Haspel: I am very proud of my growth in dance over the past several years.

East Islip 

Valedictorian Chiara Mosca

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Mosca: 110.56 GPA; Hamilton College with a major in psychology and a minor in biochemistry on the pre-med track

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Mosca: Mrs. Ingram, my AP Psychology teacher, has had the greatest impact on me throughout high school. Her enthusiastic attitude and unwavering energy toward the material have instilled in me not only a desire to succeed in the class, but also a fascination to further explore this social science in my future academic endeavors. Her passion for the subject is contagious. It is because of her class that I rediscovered my love for learning. The fear of failure that consumed my academics was replaced by a newfound sense of excitement and enjoyment. She constantly takes the time to listen to her students’ feedback and was always there to listen, whether I was stressing about a test or anxious about an upcoming event. I am forever grateful for the amount of time and effort she puts into not only teaching but also forming bonds with her students. I owe it to her that I plan on majoring in psychology this fall and am eternally thankful for all that she has taught me.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Mosca: I am incredibly proud of my perfect 5 on the 2021 AP Research examination—a distinction that only 1.56 percent of test-takers receive. My 96-page-long paper explored the relationship between perfectionism and academic procrastination in a high school setting. Previous research indicates that there is a direct correlation between these two variables at the collegiate level; however, I could not find any studies that pertained to high school students. With the support and unparalleled encouragement of my AP Research teacher, Ms. Ingoglia, I was able to fill this gap in the pre-existing literature. It feels rewarding to receive such an incredible honor for not only my score, but to also address a topic that is so pertinent to adolescents, namely how high-schoolers cope with growing academic pressures. This research was also fulfilling in suggesting areas for future studies that might mitigate these cognitive distortions.

Salutatorian Miranda Stockton

Islip Bulletin: What is your GPA and future plans?

Stockton: 107.71/ biology major at Binghamton

Islip Bulletin: Who is the teacher that influenced you the most and why?

Stockton: My AP calculus teacher, Mr. Apicella, has influenced me the most. He has truly taught me what it means to push myself and never give up. He is the most genuine, yet funny, teacher I have ever had. We share the same sense of humor. For the past two years that I have had him as a teacher, he has always been my role model and someone I look up to. There hasn’t been a day where he did not put a smile on my face. Even by just being in the same room as him would make anyone smile. He has been nothing but encouraging and uplifting. Somehow, he managed to make learning the hardest math that the school offers fun—so fun that it was easy to forget he was your teacher and not a classmate. He was always there for me, and I am so appreciative of that.

Islip Bulletin: What is something that you are incredibly proud or passionate about?

Stockton:  I have always had a passion for science. Science has always been one of my strongest and favorite subjects, even all the way back in elementary school. However, my love for science really became clear in seventh grade when we performed dissections in class. I love how science is more of hands-on learning. While I am interested in all aspects of science, my favorite is biology. I find it extremely fascinating to study all life forms. Biology focuses on the complexity of living things and how they interact with each other and the environment. While many may not find it as interesting as me, I think it is important that everyone has a basic understanding of their own body and the environment that they live in. I am so grateful I have the ability to further my study of biology in college.

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