ISLIP TOWN

Meet this year's valedictorians and salutatorians

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The Suffolk County News asked local valedictorian and salutatorians about what has been most impactful to their senior year, one that has been carried out with the most unique setting and parameters, as well as what they’d like to accomplish by the age of 30 and to submit a picture that perfectly captured their high school experience.

 

Bayport-Blue Point High School

Lindsay Lessing, valedictorian

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

GPA: 103.2

Middlebury College

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite teacher, but one of the teachers that has had the most impact on me has been my high school U.S. history teacher, Mr. Limperatos. One of the most important things that Mr. Limperatos has taught me is that the work and effort I put into school should not just be for a grade, but to benefit myself in the long run. He helped me realize that if I dedicate my time and effort into something, results will follow.

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: Our ability to adapt to changes. In the middle of what many consider to be the most important and challenging academic year of high school, our entire world was shifted. School was moved online and we were forced to adapt. Coming into our senior year, we knew things would be different, but we took what we were given and made the most out of it, even as the changes kept coming.

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: By the age of 30, I want to be part of a team that is working to make a difference in driving scientific discoveries. Whether it be in biomedical breakthroughs or focusing on sending people into space, I hope to help advance our knowledge of science and the world around us.

Cecily Chua, salutatorian

102.69

George Washington University

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: My favorite teacher is my 10th-grade AP Biology teacher, Mr. Roach. He showed me how the science we were learning in class applied to real life and helped me realize that I could accomplish more than I had thought possible. By connecting the class to real-world issues and making the work rewarding, Mr. Roach has inspired me to continue studying science.

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: The BBP Class of 2021 is tenacious. We have always worked towards our goals or have adapted them to reflect who we are as we have grown, and this became even more evident during the pandemic.  

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: By the time I am 30, I am hopeful that I will have continued to pursue, either professionally and/or personally, the causes that I am passionate about such as social justice, food insecurity, and environmental conservation.

Connetquot High School

Isabella Ibraham, valedictorian

GPA: 104.69

Stevens Institute of Technology

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: My favorite teacher is Mrs. Nunez because she taught me how to be a well-rounded student.  I always preferred math and science classes, but thanks to her I learned to appreciate reading and writing.

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: Something that makes my graduating class unique is their ability to be themselves and express their true interests.  I know so many people in the class who have found their passions and identities, and they have not been afraid to show off these qualities.

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: By the age of 30 I would like to make an impact on the world by improving the lives of as many people as possible.  One way I wish to do that is by becoming a pediatrician.  Therefore, I can impact the lives of the children I am treating.

Hayley Rodriguez, salutatorian

GPA: 102.52

SUNY Binghamton

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: My favorite teacher was Mrs. Rapone.  She taught me a lot about not over-planning and learning how to adapt.

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: I think inclusiveness makes our graduating class, and generation as a whole, quite unique.  I have always found my peers at Connetquot to be very open-minded and accepting of others.

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: By age 30 I hope to be impacting the world through my work in the medical field.  As an aspiring PA, I hope to be aiding my community and providing care to those that are in need.  I would also like to be able to conduct research and assist in improving the field of medicine.

Sayville High School

Christina Guiffre, valedictorian

GPA: 107.64

Stony Brook University

Q: Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: From my years at elementary school, middle school, and finally my time at Sayville High School, I have been guided by wonderful teachers. Every teacher I have had the opportunity to learn from has aided my development as a student and as an individual. Though it is difficult to narrow down a favorite, one teacher who resonates with me when asked this question is my AP Seminar teacher Mrs. Sohl. Taken as a sophomore, this class provided me with research, writing, and presentation skills which have allowed me to grow as a student. However, the most important learning experiences I had as Mrs. Sohl’s student occurred outside of class. When I would visit the classroom during my lunch period, Mrs. Sohl always welcomed me and listened to anything I had to share. With celebrating accomplishments and encouraging me through challenging times, Mrs. Sohl taught me about confidence. Despite my achievements, I never quite believed in myself and this not only damaged me, but also the relationships I had with others. With that, I believe that becoming more sure of myself, my abilities, and who I am has brought me where I am today, and because of this Mrs. Sohl has become one of my favorite teachers.

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: As a class, we have been confronted with a dynamic year and we have been able to adapt. From the new way of learning, to personal obstacles, this year has certainly had a unique impact on each and every individual in my graduating class. Despite this, I do not believe that our class should forever be known as the class that overcame a pandemic, but rather as a class with courage and strength. 

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: As I began to gain exposure to different courses in school, I recognized how deeply intrigued I was by life science. Additionally, my involvement in community service has developed my passion for helping others. These interests have since combined to form my interest in entering the medical field. In doing so, I hope that by the age of 30 I can improve the lives of those in need and save lives. 

Tyler Schaefer, salutatorian

Photo Cred: Susan Knappe

GPA: 107.38

Northeastern University

Q: Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: I’ve had many excellent teachers over the past 12 years going through the Sayville school system. One of these teachers is Mr. Vogel. I’ve taken three of Mr. Vogel’s technology classes over the last four years, and I’ve learned so much from each one. The most important thing Mr. Vogel has taught me is how to approach a problem using multiple perspectives. Leading up to Mr. Vogel’s class, I’ve only taken classes in the core subjects, which generally have a straightforward approach to answering a question or equation. However, learning what to do when the answer isn’t as simple as finding X has allowed me to change the way I think. 

Q: What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

A: What makes my class unique is our mentality. We always work hard and remain respectful in all situations. This attitude is what I attribute to our ability to excel in a multitude of areas. Whether it’s academics, sports, art, music, and many more, my class has been able to set the bar high for Sayville High School. 

Q: What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30?

A: As a computer science/technology guy, I’m hoping by age 30 I will be able to create some form of technology or program that makes someone’s quality of life better. This can be as simple as programming the best time to dim the lights in a room or as complex as helping code a neural implant that can theoretically help paralyzed people walk again and allow brains to function at a higher level.

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