For Nassau County’s 107 high school salutatorians and valedictorians, September will mark the start of new challenges at institutions like Harvard, Yale, Northwestern and even Long Island’s own Stony Brook University.
First, though, it’s a time to celebrate and reflect on their accomplishments.
And that’s what they did at the annual breakfast held by the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents held Friday at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
“The reality is we have the best of the best. These are students who have persevered not, one year, two years, but their entire academic career,” said Phyllis Harrington, the superintendent of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District and the event’s organizer. “This is one of the highlights, not only of the month, but of our entire year.”
Mary Leah Milnes, the Locust Valley School District valedictorian, earned a 104.1 grade point average, but said high grades weren’t her only focus.
“I never tried to worry about my grade point average because I thought it was very important to balance academics with sports and clubs and my social life,” she said.
Milnes, who will be attending Vanderbilt in the fall, played volleyball and softball, ran track and plays the viola.
For Scott Gladstone, Roslyn’s salutatorian, it was all about learning. Last summer, for instance, he studied the conditions that contribute to the spread of breast cancer. His research revealed that breast cancer needs more aggressive treatment when the number of blood vessels is higher.
Gladstone, who is graduating with a 99.1 GPA, will be studying biophysical chemistry at Dartmouth and intends to pursue a career in genetics.
Being named valedictorian of Roslyn Union Free School District, is “a big recognition,” said Natalie Miller, who will be an engineering major at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. “It’s like all the hard work finally paid off.”
Above, Andra M. Smith, valedictorian of Hempstead High School, accepts her award during an annual breakfast held by the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.