Meet Newsday's Extraordinary Seniors

They have planted trees, taught chess and music, and raised awareness about bullying, inclusion and social justice. They have mentored students from faraway lands, plumbed science to improve health care, and become role models of civic engagement, spirit and grit.

These are some of the accomplishments of the 12 graduating students selected as Newsday’s 2022 Extraordinary Seniors. Chosen from among dozens of Long Island high school seniors nominated by their teachers, guidance counselors and principals, these young people represent a cross-section of students in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In that way, they are representative of the extraordinary students across Long Island. 

What this year’s Extraordinary Seniors also have in common is that they have nurtured their passions for the benefit of those around them. In turn, they speak about how they have been nurtured by their communities.

Carman Road School senior Giovanni DiMaggio puts it succinctly: “Knowing my family, teachers and friends want to hear what I have to say motivates me to do my best.”

Read on to meet those who have done their best — and then some. — Rosemary Olander, LI Life Editor

Smithtown High School West's Aaquib Syed holds the personal-distance monitor he helped designed and build. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Empowered by the freedom of technology

By Arlene Goss | Special to Newsday

If he gets his wish, Aaquib Syed will one day get his doctorate and work for a company — perhaps his own — using artificial intelligence to solve important problems in the medical arena, particularly breast cancer.

“The goal is to streamline therapy enough where you don’t have to worry about death anymore,” said Syed, a senior at Smithtown High School West. “That’s really the dream for the future, and I hope to accomplish that someday.”

For the past two years, Syed, 17, has worked at Albert Einstein College of Medicine: Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Response, where he designed a machine-learning model using MRI imaging data to predict chemotherapy response. The work is personal for Syed: His first research mentor died of breast cancer.

His fascination with computer science dates to 2015 — a year before Syed’s family emigrated from Hyderabad, India — when he read about its potential applications.

“It’s just the freedom that computer science gives you to create whatever you want. It’s almost like a virtual universe,” said Syed, who is vice president of the robotics team and ran varsity track for three years.

From a tender age, her son knew what he wanted to be, said his mom, Sadikha Syed. “He’s been a helping child right from the very beginning.”

As lead engineer on the school’s Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam, Syed helped design a personal-distance monitor to aid teaching social distancing to students on the autism spectrum. He will continue to work on it after graduation. In his work, Syed said he would like to forgo patents to freely share anything he develops with other researchers to benefit as many as possible. “I would really prefer open source over anything else,” he said.

In 10th grade, Syed developed a device that measures stress levels in nonverbal students that could be beneficial to both educators and students, said Joanne Figueiredo per reporter, the school’s science research coordinator who has mentored Syed. “Aaquib has shown an incredible ability to innovate,” she said.

WHAT’S NEXT? University of Maryland, majoring in computer science

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “Experiencing all those labs and increasing my research portfolio, and joining different clubs like mock trial, investment and computer science.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “My love for helping the community.”

West Babylon High School's Olivia Price helped build and curate a Little Free Library that offers books promoting acceptance. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

An ability to see people and injustice

By Joe Dziemianowicz | Special to Newsday

‘I want to pursue international relations because I want to help people,” said Olivia Price, 18, a West Babylon High School senior.

She’s been doing that locally for years, while making a lasting mark as a leader who boldly takes on issues she believes in.

For Price that includes diversity. She founded the organization Rainbow Families to promote awareness and acceptance of nontraditional families like her own. Christine Bonczek gave birth to Olivia, and her wife, Monica Price, adopted her as an infant.

In a complementary project, Olivia helped build and curate a Little Free Library, offering books about tolerance, such as Sophia Day’s “We’re More Alike Than Different.”

Installed outside her Babylon home in fall 2020, “the library,” said Price, “was a way to reach out to the community in a nontouch way.”

The high-achiever’s moms marvel at her fearless determination.

“Olivia has never been afraid to express who she is or where she comes from. She’s been enlightening people all her life,” said Price, a retired school counselor who was paralyzed when she was 21 and has used a wheelchair for more than three decades.

“Olivia has the ability to really see people and injustice,” said Bonczek, a physical therapist. “She’s just taken it upon herself to do what she can to address it.”

That same can-do energy has fueled the teen’s academic excellence, Rotary Youth Leader roles and musical-theater star turns.

Whether she’s playing a wicked stepsister in “Into the Woods” or kind Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast,” Price’s attitude beams as bright as a follow spot.

“Olivia brings positivity and great empathy with her presence,” said Mary Ann Cafiero, choral and theater director at West Babylon High School. “She commands a room when she enters it.”

Asked what motivates her, Price summoned a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

“For me,” she said, “it’s true.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Boston University, majoring in international relations

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I’m excited about all of the opportunities in Boston, in general.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “I am a human. I’m allowed to have high and low emotions. That’s what gives us our humanity.”

Long Island Lutheran's Devin Moore conceived an anti-bullying campaign that gives seminars to students. Credit: Linda Rosier

A personal crusade to stop bullying

By Arlene Goss | Special to Newsday

Putting an end to bullying has become a rallying cry for Devin Moore, a senior at Long Island Lutheran Middle & High School in Brookville.

After experiencing racist cyberbullying in eighth grade, Moore in 2018 founded #RaceToSpeakUp, an anti-bullying organization that aims to prevent bullying and empower victims.

“I said, ‘I have to be a part of the positive change that helps others because other youth around the world, unfortunately, are going through bullying,’ ” said Moore, 18, of Bay Shore.

Through #RaceToSpeakUp, Moore learned about Humanity Rising, an organization in which he is an ambassador hosting monthly anti-bullying webinars. He also advocates for a state anti-bullying law that would ensure that schools support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

In October 2021, during National Bullying Prevention Month, Moore added a #RaceToSpeakUp podcast featuring conversations with changemakers who have encountered bullying themselves or through loved ones.

In many instances, people would let the experience negatively define them. Moore did just the opposite, said Kimberly Kuck, LuHi’s director of school counseling.

“I love that he talks about being an upstander, not just a bystander,” she said. “To stand up and say something to stop it, that’s really a powerful message.”

Moore is working on a children’s book about speaking up about bullying. He has also created #BehindThe

Screen, a curriculum he hopes will be implemented in schools to give teachers, parents and students a greater understanding of cyberbullying and help in identifying signs of bullying.

“I know I went through anxiety,” Moore explained. “I went through a little bit of depression. It was hard for me to even see my peers the same. We need a guide for students to unlock this understanding and be open and vulnerable with each other.”

Noting that her son experienced hate and pain, Ursula Moore said, “He’s all about love, love, love. To see this beautiful abundance of love is amazing!”

WHAT’S NEXT? University of Maryland, majoring in psychology and minoring in prelaw

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I look forward to really learning about psychology and mental health because I know that it will definitely aid me in my path continuing to help others.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … "You need to embrace yourself in every way, shape and form."

East Hampton High School's Julianna Lester participates in Revolutionary War-ear historical re-enactments. Credit: Randee Daddona

Unafraid to give others a boost up

By Michael R. Ebert | michael.ebert@newsday.com

Julianna Lester has helped her peers to lick anxiety and depression with everything from inspirational stickers to “positive affirmation lollipops.”

The East Hampton High School senior tackled the tasks as president of the school’s Justice League, which aims to spread smiles through activities such as distributing lollipops with uplifting phrases and recognizing students on a Community Spirit Award Board.

Lester, 17, also created a mental health website to help classmates remain optimistic amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The website, linked to the district’s homepage, features research on mental health topics as well as resources for suicide prevention in English and Spanish.

“When I returned to school in the fall of my junior year, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling,” Lester, 17, said of the site’s importance.

Her other accomplishments include conceiving a local historical tour in conjunction with the Village of East Hampton and participating in local Revolutionary War re-enactments.

The teen is also president of her school’s Century Club, which is open to students accumulating 100 hours of community service, and coordinates events that benefit various charities. In addition, she is involved in an East End-based program i-tri, which fosters healthy lifestyle choices among adolescent girls by training them to complete a youth-distance triathlon.

“Julianna is a young lady with outstanding leadership, intelligence, initiative and maturity,” said her school counselor, Samone Ritz. “I have the utmost confidence she will continue to make great contributions in this world.”

Lester, who has a weighted GPA of 102.81, also has been a stage manager for her school’s musicals and a member of the golf team, pep band, unified basketball team, Key Club, Inclusion Recreation Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and International Thespian Society.

WHAT’S NEXT? University of Connecticut, majoring in chemistry

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “Starting a new adventure … and being able to get further in my journey to try to help my community and make the world a better place.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED: "We have connections to others that enable us to take risks with the knowledge that we’ll be supported by at least one person in the community."

Nassau BOCES Carman Road School's Giovanni DiMaggio communicates using a computerized speech device with a touch screen. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

An unquenchable fascination with what's new

By Joe Dziemianowicz | Special to Newsday

As he graduates this month from Nassau BOCES Carman Road School, Giovanni DiMaggio leaves an indelible imprint. His brilliant charisma, gritty determination and contagious can-do spirit despite enormous hurdles loom extra large.

DiMaggio, 21, is nonverbal and has severe motor disabilities. He uses a wheelchair and depends on adults for his daily needs at school and at home in Franklin Square. To communicate, he relies on a computerized speech device with a touch screen. His teachers help him to formulate complex ideas.

Asked for his tips for future seniors, DiMaggio advised: “Complete the day knowing you did the best you could do. Have fun in life and find happiness in everything you do. Finally, love and appreciate those that love you.”

DiMaggio described his mom and dad as sources of his “greatest inspiration. They have cared for me and my siblings selflessly, all my life. I could not have more wonderful role models.”

Maria DiMaggio, who works as a school aide at Polk Street School in Franklin Square, said her son’s condition is often compared to cerebral palsy. “What impresses me most,” she said, “has always been his determination to work hard despite how difficult things are.”

Cathleen Quinn, a classroom teacher at the school in Massapequa Park, has observed the student’s trademark tenacity — and curiosity. “Gio loves to learn about new things,” she said. “He’s always engaged.” His interests range from nature and animals to robots and artificial intelligence.

Shari Haber, a speech language pathologist, put it succinctly: “Gio is a very special guy.”

The social aspect of school and other group events, along with the give-and-take, holds great appeal for DiMaggio. “Knowing my family, teachers, and friends want to hear what I have to say motivates me to do my best,” he said.

WHAT’S NEXT? The family is considering full-time day programs.

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I love being at school.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “How much my family, teachers and therapists care about me … and how much I missed the human connection to others.”

Huntington High School's Yanira Rivera has offered support and mentoring to students learning English. Credit: Danielle Silverman

America let her focus on education

By Michael R. Ebert | michael.ebert@newsday.com

Yanira Rivera has certainly made the most of her opportunities since gang violence forced her family to leave their native country of El Salvador.

The Huntington High School senior was just a year old when her father was shot and killed in the Central American country in 2005. To build a better life, Rivera’s family — including her mother and her older brother and sister — moved a few years later to Long Island.

“There are many more opportunities here, and it’s a lot safer,” Rivera, 17, said. “I feel like I can actually focus on my education without having to worry about my safety.”

The resilient Rivera has accumulated leadership positions that include serving as president of her school’s New World Club, which assigns mentors to students learning English, and vice president of the United Amigos Club, which offers academic and language support and hosts events to benefit residents in need.

She is also treasurer of the Women’s Empowerment Club and A World of Difference Club, the latter of which promotes programs that help students to better understand the issues of prejudice and bigotry.

“I think it’s important that students don’t feel like just because they’re a certain ethnicity they can’t do something,” Rivera said. “If they put in the effort and they have the determination, they can do it.”

Rivera’s other commitments include being vice president of the Grandfriends Club, which plans activities and collects donations for area senior citizens, and a member of the Social Justice Ambassadors Club. She is also social media coordinator for the Yearbook Club and participates in the unified basketball program and cross country and track and field teams.

“Yanira’s work ethic as a student is exemplary,” said Huntington social studies teacher Erik Bruckbauer. “But it’s her intellectual curiosity and her willingness to assist others that really make her stand out.

“She has a passion for learning that makes her a pleasure to have in class, but her value to the school community runs much deeper.”

WHAT’S NEXT? John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in forensic psychology and minoring in cybercrime

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I love learning, so all of the different topics I’ll be learning about in college are making me feel excited.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … "Making sure you’re taking care of yourself, and you're not stressing yourself or making yourself overwhelmed about what's going on in your life, is very important."

Jericho High School's Wesley Wang has studied directing at the New York Film Academy in Manhattan. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Eager for his next gambit

By Joe Dziemianowicz | Special to Newsday

Put Jericho High School student Wesley Wang in front of a chessboard, behind a movie camera or on a 400-meter track, and he’s got the right moves.

The 18-year-old multifield phenom chalks up being a triple threat to “discipline and drive. When I’m passionate about something,” he said, “I go for it.”

Wang is one of the top five runners in his county. He’s an International Chess Federation Master and co-founder of CHESSanity.

Created with his brother, Warren, another chess champ, the nonprofit organization helps kids and adults learn the game and reap its cognitive rewards. “It was a way to give back,” Wang said. “I got so much out of chess.”

That films can make deep impact inspired him to pivot his go-go-go toward cinema. Beyond his local school, he has studied directing at the New York Film Academy in Manhattan and screenwriting remotely at USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles.

Matthew Silva, a Jericho High School film and video production teacher, calls Wang “a virtuoso talent” whose success owes in part to always going the extra mile. “Wesley is next-level dedicated.”

Wang’s films have won prizes and screened at prestigious festivals. Themes range from self-harm (“Faces”) to the price of empowerment (“Mute”) to family dysfunction (“Eve”).

“Wesley is a true leader,” said his father, Winston Wang, a financial adviser who’s appeared in a number of his son’s films. “I am amazed at how he handles so many people on a set.”

Everything that happens before, during and after calling “Action!” and “Cut!” excites the teen. “I just love the idea of creating something that people can respond to,” he said.

His in-the-works short film is “Nothing, Except Everything,” about a high school senior. “It’s so personal,” Wang said. “I think it will resonate with others.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Harvard University, majoring in economics (“I plan to do films outside of school,” Wang said.)

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I’m excited about meeting new people and experiencing the vibrance of a new city.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “Making a movie during COVID is a big challenge.”

Baldwin High School's Olutoyin Green has been playing violin since she was in third grade. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Pandemic fed her impulse to serve

By Kevin J. Redding | Special to Newsday

A deep thinker with compassion and concern for the world since she was young, Olutoyin Green spent much of the pandemic planning for her future and building a better one for others.

“I’ve always felt the need to care for people, to help change things and even the scales to make sure everybody is comfortable, safe and given the opportunities to succeed in society,” said Green, 17. “When COVID hit, I saw disparities everywhere, so I made a list of things that I wanted to try to fix.”

In late 2020, then a junior at Baldwin High School, she started Together United Organization, a youth-empowering effort to address environmental and health care issues. By April 2021, she led TUO’s first event — planting 50 cedar oak trees at Baldwin Park for Earth Day. Her initiative has inspired others, including fellow students, parents and Town of Hempstead officials, to get involved and volunteer. Later that year, she hosted a cooking series on Instagram that focused on providing healthy alternatives to popular holiday dishes. The shows drew thousands of viewers.

Aspiring to be a trauma surgeon who works globally, Green has explored her passions for advocacy and health care through the Spark! Challenge at Northwell Health and similar programs at Weill Cornell Medicine and Adelphi and Hofstra universities. She hopes to one day ensure that medicine is effective for everybody — regardless of economic status or race.

“Olutoyin’s a guiding light,” said Pat Banhazl, a school-to-career coordinator at Baldwin. “She’s a decision-maker, a true leader, humble and always smiling. She’s going to change the world.”

Green, who has played violin since third grade, has been in the school chamber orchestra for four years and is a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. She has excelled as an AP student athlete, the captain of two teams and as a mentor to younger students.

Pamela Green proudly said of her daughter, “When you’re in her presence, you’re just invigorated by her energy.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Syracuse University, majoring in health humanities and political philosophy

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “The opportunity to choose classes.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “The importance of justice and equality. During COVID, I gravitated toward global health and it’s what set me on my path.”

Syosset High School's Caroline Hsu has give free lessons to students through Musical Relief. Credit: Linda Rosier

Through music, she shares her gifts

By Kevin J. Redding | Special to Newsday

Although she was born unable to hear certain pitches, Caroline Hsu’s musical passion has been loud and clear since she was a child.

Hsu began using hearing aids when she was 1 and was in speech therapy from birth to kindergarten. Auditory issues that can make ear training a challenge haven’t stopped Hsu, who at 4 years old first banged on the keys of the Yamaha U1 her older sister played. “The piano is quite loud,” laughed Hsu, 18. “So it [my impairment] hasn’t impeded on my music.”

Years of lessons and practice channeled her early enthusiasm, leading Hsu to become one of the most accomplished high school musicians in the nation.

The Syosset High School senior has spent the past seven years studying piano at The Juilliard Pre-College, a program in Manhattan; has performed nationally and internationally; and was named a YoungArts national finalist in 2021, one of five pianists recognized in the competition.

She’s also passionate about helping others discover the arts. Every weekend during the pandemic, she has given free lessons to students ages 8 through 19 through Musical Relief, a Syosset nonprofit.

“Music helps students become better thinkers, more creative, more analytical and more organized,” said Hsu, 18, whose other achievements include debating at Model Congress, being editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, taking 15 AP courses and maintaining a 100 GPA. “Every day I ask myself, ‘Caroline, are you going to make it?,’ but if it’s something I like, I’ll find a way to make it work.”

Brett Klopp, her junior-year AP history teacher, marveled at her engagement and drive despite remote and socially distanced learning. “She was just a standout. It seemed as if the screens and plexiglass shields and masks were not even there. All the losses from last year were not apparent with her.”

Her mom, Joyce Yang, said after having beautiful live music in the house for 14 years, “I’m very happy for her and know that the journey has just started.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Harvard University, studying government and economics

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “Being able to branch out into a new environment and be in such close proximity to museums, cultural centers and exploring my interest in politics.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “The world needs good music and happy vibes … and to not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”

Greenport High School's Luca Rallis created a political consulting firm that has worked for candidates for state office. Credit: Randee Daddona

A political junkie even before he could vote

By Joe Dziemianowicz | Special to Newsday

Luca Rallis, a Greenport High School senior, has a deep passion for politics. So deep he’s got his own company to prove it.

In September 2021, Rallis co-founded High Peak Consulting Group, a small firm that specializes in communications strategies that drive results and impact for campaigns.

“I’ve been volunteering for causes and campaigns that I cared about for years,” said Rallis, who turns 18 in July and has never let being too young to vote stop him from immersing himself in politics.

In 2020, he was deputy campaign manager for Skyler Johnson’s State Senate primary run and field operations head for State Assembly candidates Michael Marcantonio and Joe Sackman in the general election. The three campaigns were unsuccessful, but proved to be invaluable experiences.

By Rallis’ account, High Peak, co-founded by Hunter Gross, is doing well. The teen said he expects it to be able to fund his college education.

Rallis’ entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t surprise his mother, Amelia Harsh Krause, an artist. “I always knew he’d get into some sort of business,” she said. “When he was around 8 years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a filing cabinet.”

You can file Rallis’ interests under V, for varied. He’s actively participated in Boy Scouts, the Navy Junior ROTC, the concert and marching bands, and the school newspaper.

All the while, he has maintained an impressive academic record, said guidance coordinator Brandi Hopkins, who marvels at the senior’s approach to the world around him. “Luca is deeply invested in serving the community and making a difference.”

Politics is a sphere defined by winning and losing. Rallis has learned an invaluable lesson from that. “Even when your end goal eludes you,” he said, “a loss can actually lead to great things.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Stony Brook University, majoring in political science, aiming to apply for the five-year master’s program in public policy

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “I can’t wait to take classes in subjects that will help me in my work in the future.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “How to improve my time management and communication skills.”

Plainedge High School's Kyle Kavully created a podcast for talking about social justice issues. Credit: Linda Rosier

A new voice on compelling issues

By Joe Dziemianowicz | Special to Newsday

All the world’s a stage, and Plainedge High School student Kyle Kavully uses every platform to push for self-expression and social justice.

Just listen to “10 One Five,” the podcast the 18-year-old from Bethpage co-founded in September 2021 to boost awareness about racial bias, religious and cultural appropriation, mental health and other issues.

“I felt a need to be an advocate for racial minorities, especially being one in a predominantly white neighborhood,” said Kavully, who believes in shaking up the status quo. The podcast name (10-15) is a nod to the code police departments have used for civil disturbance.

“Kyle’s not afraid to take on a big challenge when he recognizes the need for change,” said guidance counselor and drama club adviser Michael Cipriano. “When he speaks, people listen.  . . . He’s charming. He’s authentic.”

Those signal characteristics have proved to be assets for Kavully’s other interests. He’s stepped up as peer coach for special-education students, starred in musicals (“Catch Me If You Can,” most recently) and performed on a competitive dance team (“I love the fluidity of contemporary dance and the fierceness of hip-hop,” he said.)

On a global level, his research project about race in America won a fourth-place prize in the social and behavioral science category at this year’s International Science and Engineering Fair.

Pursuits vary, but one thing stays the same. “Once Kyle commits to something, he always completes it,” said his mother, Janice Kavully, a physician assistant. “That’s his way.”

Committing halfway doesn't cut it, according to the teen. “Seeing something all the way through is important,” Kavully said. “You get to see the end product of what you’ve put your heart into.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Brown University, majoring in political science on a prelaw track

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “The open curriculum allowing me to take classes outside political science.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “How to use my voice for my beliefs.”

George W. Hewlett High School's Emma Tsoglin was asked to write a play for schoolwide production. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Steeped in love of learning and culture

By Arlene Goss | Special to Newsday

Growing up with working parents, Emma Tsoglin, 18, of Hewlett, says she spent countless days with her mother’s parents, who live nearby and imparted their love of learning and culture to her.

“I think for a lot of people with parents who emigrated from different countries, there’s a big emphasis on education,” Tsoglin said.

Noting her mother is from Ukraine and her dad is from Belarus, Tsoglin called the situation in Ukraine, “heartbreaking.”

“My mom is from Odesa and that whole region has a history of being destroyed in war,” she said.

While in 10th grade at George W. Hewlett High School, Tsoglin took part in the Euro Challenge, presenting research about Italy’s debt and high rate of unemployed youth. In the Fed Challenge as a junior, she wrote about the income gap between men and women; as a senior, she scripted a podcast about cryptocurrency and the environment.

Over the summer in 2019 and 2021, Tsoglin worked as a day-camp counselor with children of divorced parents and children with intellectual disabilities at The Marion & Aaron Gural JCC in Cedarhurst. “Some of the kids did need a little bit more encouragement," she said. "I understand that. I sometimes am very introverted.”

Tsoglin volunteered last summer and in her senior year at SUNY Downstate Medical Center Neuroscience Lab, identifying inhibitor neurons that dampen electrical signals in bat brains to ultimately extrapolate the findings to humans.

In an ambitious senior year, Tsoglin also competed in fencing, conducted a study about vulnerability in high school students and wrote “(Don’t) Tell Anyone I Have This,” a play exploring people and possessions that was presented schoolwide. “It was really rewarding,” Tsoglin said. “It was an honor to be asked to write it: really unexpected.”

It was the first time a student’s play was presented schoolwide, notes Dawn DeMaio, who taught Tsoglin both English and theater, and enlisted her to write it. “I have found Emma to be a remarkable writer and dramatist who has an extraordinary gift for language and storytelling,” said DeMaio.

Concurring that her daughter is a talented writer, Dr. Alexandra Tsoglin said, “We’re very, very proud of her. She’s a very hard worker.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Princeton University, leaning toward sciences

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO: “Having room to explore a variety of different subjects to figure out what I’m passionate about.”

DURING THE PANDEMIC I LEARNED … “Everyone’s trying to figure out a way to work together and make everything function, in spite of so many unknowns.”