High school academics can be very competitive for driven students. These seniors challenge themselves, contribute to clubs, and donate time to their communities. They earn scholarships to top universities. Some even earn the honor of being named valedictorian or salutatorian. How these students stack up against their peers helps colleges contextualize applicants. Here’s a look at the East End seniors who have catapulted themselves to the top of the Class of 2020:
East Hampton School District
Samantha Prince and Wells Woolcott are valedictorian and salutatorian of East Hampton Union Free School District’s Class of 2020.
Prince, who will attend Yale University, was involved in many different extracurricular activities, including ballet, playing the clarinet, science research, Student Association Club, was a Class of 2020 officer, and more, yet at the same time was able to produce outstanding academic results.
“She has perfected her time management skills over the years and is truly one of the most successfully-involved students I have ever worked with,” her counselor Lynne Yardley Brown said.
Prince is an Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma recipient, received the high honors award from the Long Island Science Congress, and was selected to participate in the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair for her research work on antibiotic resistance.
She holds positions as co-class president, Student Association president, National Honor Society president, and Symphonic Band secretary.
As a ballet dancer, she has performed in lead roles with professional partners in several local performances, and was selected to take part in summer intensive ballet programs at the University of Alabama and SUNY Purchase College.
Prince was an All-County clarinet player and this year was selected to the All-County band by the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education.
This past summer, Prince took part in a medical internship in Argentina. The program, Projects Abroad, provided her the opportunity to observe doctors and nurses on their rounds. She also attended medical lectures and workshops and participated in community outreaches in rural communities. Prince said it was a rewarding experience. She “scrubbed in” and observed surgeries and also provided presentations in Spanish on health and nutrition to community members.
This year Prince also interned as a research assistant for Peter Emerson, a former White House aide who is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate. Prince is working with Emerson on a local initiative focused on vaping awareness, specifically targeting the electronic cigarette Juul. She is part of a group of students that visited surrounding school districts and created call-to-action forums highlighting the dangers of vaping.
Woolcott is also co-class president, a National Merit Scholar, and Academic Team president who will be attending the University of Virginia.
“He is truly an amazing young man,” his counselor Samone Ritz said.
Woolcott put in over 600 community service hours, and was the first student in school history to be selected for a National Association for Music Education All-National ensemble.
Sag Harbor School District
Ruby Yassen and Chase Allardice are valedictorian and salutatorian of Sag Harbor Union Free School District’s Class of 2020.
Both pursued International Baccalaureate diplomas — given after completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme’s two-year educational curriculum for 16-to-19-year-olds that provides an internationally-accepted qualification for entry into higher education and is recognized by many universities worldwide. The academic program has been both challenging and rewarding, the students said, especially the independent assessments and extended essays for each class.
During the stay-at-home period, Yassen completed her IB Visual Arts Assessment, which was a virtual exhibition. She said it was a lot of work, but it kept her creative and busy. She will major in English at University of California, Los Angeles, and hopes to eventually minor in film.
“I chose this school because I wanted a change from high school, so its size was very appealing to me,” she said. “Also, I love California. UCLA has the perfect balance of school spirit and strong academics I was looking for.”
Allardice said two favorites assignments were his musical investigative project, which focused on jazz icon Miles Davis’s influence on modern music, and his history project about President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration initiative to engage jazz musicians to help cool Cold War tensions. He too has been keeping up with his studies and recording and writing new music.
Allardice will study music with an unsolicited scholarship at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“I feel it will provide me with the best musical education and opportunity that I can find,” he said.
Both students attended school in Sag Harbor since kindergarten, and while they are looking forward to college, they said moving on will be bittersweet.
Hampton Bays School District
Skye McMorris and Lily Candelaria are valedictorian and salutatorian of Hampton Bays Union Free School District’s Class of 2020.
McMorris boasts numerous accomplishments throughout her high school career. Along with being named an AP Scholar and National Merit Commended Student, she earned an All-County academic award for volleyball, was named a regional winner in the VFW Voice of Democracy writing contest for the past two years, and earned the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award, which recognizes and rewards individuals who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities. McMorris was a member of her school’s Key Club, jazz band, Future Business Leaders of America Club, Interact Club, Science Olympiad team, and varsity volleyball team. She also participated in her school’s theater program.
As a student in the school’s Science Research Program for the past four years, McMorris decided to continue on that track by majoring in biochemistry in college, with the goal of joining a research lab and studying genetic disorders.
To underclassmen, she offered the following advice for success: “Work as hard as possible and be passionate about the work that you are doing.”
Candelaria earned the designations of National Hispanic Scholar and AP Scholar with Honor. She was also well-rounded in her extracurricular pursuits, as she was a member of her school’s Key Club, Interact Club, Science Olympiad team, and National and Science honor societies. As an athlete, she participated on her school’s varsity volleyball, basketball, and softball teams and earned multiple postseason awards during the course of her high school career.
In the fall, Candelaria will attend New York University to study biology, with plans to follow a pre-med track. She will also play softball while in college.
She offered the following advice to underclassmen: “Get involved in activities outside of school, because it’s a healthy outlet, and always work hard, no matter how difficult it gets.”
Riverhead School District
Christina Yakaboski and Zachary White are valedictorian and salutatorian of Riverhead Central School District’s Class of 2020.
Yakaboski achieved a number of academic accomplishments throughout her school career. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction and earned the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Award for high honors in mathematical, verbal, and spatial ability. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Foreign Language Honor Society for her Latin studies. She also belonged to the Math Club and Mentathletes, and participated in Athletes Helping Athletes. When not studying, she could be found on the track, as she was captain of the cross-country, and spring and winter track teams. She also earned multiple postseason awards, including All-County and All-Academic honors for winter track, and holds school records for the sprint medley relay, distance medley relay, and 4×400-meter relay.
Yakaboski plans to study political science or law in the fall. She cites sports involvement as a path to success and advises underclassmen to “learn new things and do things outside of academics.”
White is an AP Scholar with Distinction and earned Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s eponymous medal for outstanding academic achievement in mathematics and science. He was a member of his school’s National Honor Society, National Foreign Language Honor Society (Latin studies), Key Club, Math Club, and Robotics Club. He is also a musician and played alto saxophone in his school’s pep band and wind ensemble. In addition, he achieved his Eagle Scout award from the Boy Scouts of America.
White plans to study engineering or a related STEM-based field in the fall. His advice for success is in keeping with his dedicated attitude.
“If you work hard and don’t give up, you can accomplish great things,” White said. “Perseverance is as important as studying and working hard because some classes can be especially challenging.”
Bridgehampton School District
Madeline Grabb and Jaden Campbell are valedictorian and salutatorian of Bridgehampton School District’s Class of 2020.
Grabb’s high school résumé includes taking numerous college level, AP, and honors courses. She was a member of the school’s robotics team and the National Honor Society, and took advantage of many educational opportunities while a student. This included being a member of Guild Hall of East Hampton Inc.’s Teen Arts Council, editing college essays for her peers, serving as a volunteer for The Hampton Ballet Theatre School and Maureen’s Haven at Temple Adas Israel, receiving the Daughters of American Revolution Good Citizen Award, and serving as a panelist for the East End Youth Leadership Conference and knitting hundreds of preemie caps for neonatal units across the country. Grabb lives by her motto: “If something interests you, spend time finding out why.”
She expressed gratefulness to her family and teachers for their compassion and engagement, and will attend Stanford University.
Campbell also took numerous college level, AP, and honors courses in her high school career. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, marimba ensemble, Drama Club, and varsity cheer team. She participated in various volunteer opportunities including blood drives, beach cleanups, and musical performances at a local retirement home.
Campbell was consistently named to the school’s High Honor Roll, is a scholar-athlete, and finds if you fully commit to both sports and academics, there is a way to achieve a successful balance.
Campbell said to future graduates: “Create the future you want for yourself.”
She will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Westhampton Beach School District
Kay Horak and Kathleen Kelly are valedictorian and salutatorian of Westhampton Beach Union Free School District’s Class of 2020.
Horak achieved a number of academic accomplishments during her tenure at Westhampton Beach High School. She is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, a National AP Scholar, and a recipient of the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Social Justice Award, presented to those who demonstrate commitment to understanding and addressing difficult social issues, leadership and dedication to community action, and strong grades and rigorous courses taken in the humanities and social sciences. She was also president of her school’s Key Club and a member of the National Honor Society, drama department, quiz bowl team, and jazz and pep bands, for which she played trombone. Outside of school, she volunteered at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Horak plans to study environmental science and policy in the fall. Her key to success is to “know your limits and take on a curriculum that you know you will enjoy and do well in.”
Kelly is a National AP Scholar, a National Merit Commended Scholar, a member of the National Honor Society, and was co-president of her school’s Interact/Rotary Club and a student trustee for the Hurricane Educational Foundation. She also ran varsity track at school and is a member of the Westhampton Beach Junior Ambulance.
Kelly intends to study finance or computer science in the fall. She attributes her success to seeking out friends she was able to work well with, and never being afraid to ask questions.
Mattituck School District
Jessica Scheer is valedictorian, and Kelsey Bundrick and Shelby Dufton co-salutatorians of Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District Class of 2020.
All three are members of the varsity tennis team.
Scheer was a member of the National Honor Society, high school theater and North Fork Community Theater, and varsity track team who will student study biological sciences at Cornell University.
Bundrick is a church volunteer, and was a varsity tennis player and member of the school newspaper. Bundrick will study chemistry at Liberty University.
Dufton was a member of Select Chorus, Mathletes, and high school musical and play department who will study music at Dartmouth College.
Southold School District
Walter Brigham IV and Rhian Tramontana are valedictorian and salutatorian of Southold Union Free School District Class of 2020.
Brigham was a member of the National Honor Society, jazz band, and varsity tennis, basketball, and soccer teams who will study physics and mathematics at Binghamton University.
Tramontana was the National Honor Society president and a member of the chamber orchestra, was a school newspaper journalist, member of the varsity volleyball team, and middle school volleyball manager who will study international relations at Batten Honors College at Virginia Wesleyan University.
Southampton and Ross school districts do not recognize a valedictorian and salutatorian.