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Extraordinary seniors making a real difference

Sarah Lyne, Anneliese Riesterer and Erin Von Elm,

Sarah Lyne, Anneliese Riesterer and Erin Von Elm, all seniors at Kellenberg High School, in one of the high school's courtyards, May 22, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Challenges are part of life. So are highs and lows, unfortunate happenstance and silver linings.

The 2014 class of Extraordinary Seniors has had brushes with all of the above, and in the process made deliberate and thoughtful choices for themselves that often intentionally resulted in a greater, more beneficial impact on others.

"Humble, passionate, ambitious and compassionate; his potential is truly unlimited."

That's how Candy Bodner, a guidance counselor at Jericho High School, described Tae Hoon Kim, who has spent much of his five years in this country helping others in appreciation for the opportunities that life in America affords.

His fellow Extraordinary Seniors possess the same qualities. They were selected from dozens of letters submitted by guidance counselors and principals across Nassau and Suffolk counties.

By definition and deed they are extraordinary for:

***Mastering written and spoken English by combining the rhymes of Dr. Seuss with the eloquent and lasting oratory of the "I Have A Dream" speech and "The Gettysburg Address," in less than four years;

***Bursting free of their own Long Island bubble and traveling thousands of miles from home to live with strangers in India, where stark and dismaying exposure to abject poverty sparked a vow to rise above complacency;

***Standing up to the diagnosis of a brain tumor or malformation by leaning on two other classmates who could support and encourage you because they were literally having the same experience and knew exactly what you were going through;

***Maintaining the bridge between generations by creating a patent-pending software program that helped keep open the lines of communication with a beloved grandmother by personalizing it with photos, music and other information to lift the effects of a paralyzing stroke;

***Living the "each one teach one" doctrine by sharing a love of the drums with at-risk and disadvantaged youths through free music lessons, with homework help thrown in, and teaching hockey to children and adults with Down syndrome.

Newsday congratulates this year's Extraordinary Seniors:

Ryley Conway

Eswar Dommaraju

Julia Eberhard

Kwasi Enin

Reed Ginsberg

Matthew Giovanniello

Tae Hoon Kim

Sarah Lyne

Anneliese Riesterer

Sodasia Thompson

Erin Von Elm

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