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Bethpage graduate bikes her way to MIT

From left, Valedictorian Chelsea Levy, Salutatorian Daniel Zirkel

From left, Valedictorian Chelsea Levy, Salutatorian Daniel Zirkel and Student Council President Elaina Kuhlke. Levy is one of two Bethpage graduates who will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Zirkel will be attending Princeton; Kuhlke is going to the Fashion Institute of Technology. (June 22, 2012) Credit: Fran Berkman

As is the case with most high school students, Holly Josephs’ path to graduation was filled with obstacles and rough terrain.

The reason why this Bethpage High School graduate made it look so easy is because she was coasting on her bike most of the way through.

Josephs, along with 10 other teens, was a part of a 55-day bike tour from Seaside, Ore., on the Pacific coast, to Coney Island during the summer of 2010. The team biked an average of 70 miles each day through deserts, mountains and cities, and Josephs said the reason for the trip was “adventure.”

While she found fun and adventure on her cross-country jaunt, it was another bike trip that would greatly influence her future. Josephs and three friends biked from New York to Boston during the summer of 2011. On that trip, Josephs visited the ultra-prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and decided to apply; she was eventually accepted.

“It seems like it’s going to be really fun and really hard too,” Josephs said.

In addition to her academic success, Josephs also teaches Kempo and Jujitsu to young children, and she has an internship with Sustainable Long Island, at which she helps to promote food equity and water conservation on Long Island.

“She’s a good kid,” said Karen Josephs, Holly’s mother, who was quick to add: “I would say that even if I wasn’t her parent.”

Josephs is one of two in the Bethpage Class of 2012 who is headed to MIT, the other is valedictorian Chelsea Levy, who offered words of encouragement to her classmates during her succinct address at Bethpage’s 57th annual commencement ceremony which was held in the auditorium Friday night rather than the rainy football field.

“I won’t wish you good luck because I don’t believe luck has anything to do with it, but I do wish you the utmost success,” Levy told her classmates.

Bethpage Principal Michael Spence was not only proud of his two MIT-bound graduates, calling it a “ridiculous” accomplishment for the two young women, but the entire 262-member Class of 2012.

“It’s been an amazing class, that we are especially proud of,” Spence said. “They have not only excelled academically, but have performed exceptionally well athletically and most importantly in reaching out to their community to help those less fortunate than themselves.”

For their efforts, the Bethpage Class of 2012 qualified for and was offered $7.7 million in merit scholarships from colleges and universities. In addition, the Bethpage community provided more than $60,000 in local scholarships.

While there was no shortage of praise for the Class of 2012 at the commencement ceremony, perhaps the most memorable characterization came from Salutatorian Daniel Zirkel, during his address.

“The graduating Class of 2012 has plenty of characters .?.?. ahem .?.?. I mean .?.?. character,” Zirkel said.

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