‘Perseverance and commitment’ for top graduating students in Class of 2021

As a school year unlike any other nears the end, local school districts have announced the top-achieving students in the Class of 2021.

In Mattituck, this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian share a love for clubs, activities and community service.

Senior Luke Altman will graduate as valedictorian with an unweighted GPA of 97.76. The salutatorian is Weronika Jachimowicz, who has an unweighted GPA of 97.27.

“Both Luke and Weronika have demonstrated the perseverance and commitment needed to earn the prestigious distinction of Class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian,” Superintendent of Schools Jill Gierasch said. “This achievement, especially during these challenging times, is a major accomplishment in their academic careers.”

According to school officials, Luke participated on the varsity wrestling team, varsity cross country and varsity track teams and served as president for the National Honor Society, Student Council and Mathletes.

He received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and plans to study biology in college.

Weronika was a member of the fencing team, ping pong team and winter track team. She was a member of the National Honor Society, high school art portfolio club, and Students Against Destructive Decisions club, co-president of the Unity club and president of the Interact club. In addition, she participated in community service as a volunteer at local libraries. She is planning to major in biology/forensics in college.

Mattituck valedictorian Luke Altman and salutatorian Weronika Jachimowicz.

In Greenport, a student who helped a local inventor develop a ventilator amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been named valedictorian.

Emily McInnis, whose passions include science, math, art and architecture, is planning to attend Dartmouth College in the fall. Her older brother Joe was the Greenport valedictorian last June.

A member of the Shakespeare Club who works at the local library, school officials said Emily is on track to graduate with an AP Capstone Diploma and Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.

Salutatorian Aidan Crowley will graduate with those same honors and plans on studying engineering at college.

He served as Commanding Officer in the school’s NJROTC unit and also captain of the strategy team in Robotics and co Vice President of the club, which has attended the World Championships.

High school principal Gary Kalish said he couldn’t be prouder of both students.

“Not only have they proven themselves as exceptional scholars, but they have also grown to be caring, respectful and talented young people. Not only have they excelled throughout high school, but they have also done so through the challenges of the pandemic. We look forward to what comes next for them after high school,” Mr. Kalish said.

Southold’s valedictorian, Benjamin Ward, was described by district officials as highly motivated and kind.

He’s a member of the varsity tennis and cross-country teams, Environmental Club, and Broadcast Awards nominee with SOHO TV.

Benjamin also served as president of the Quizbowl Team, Student Ambassador Club and frequently contributed to the school newspaper, the Sentinel.

Students may recognize Benjamin as the “voice of Southold,” responsible for delivering morning announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance for the past five years.

“During an uncertain and difficult time, this student’s morning greeting proved to be steadfast and supportive when our community needed it,” Superintendent Dr. Anthony Mauro said.

Benjamin, who is a National Merit Scholarship Letter of Commendation recipient, an AP Scholar Award winner, Scholar Athlete and a member of the National Honor Society, has a cumulative GPA of 99.52 and plans to study International Affairs at college.

Salutatorian Hanna DeSimone is a member of the varsity tennis team, varsity track team and performs in the select orchestra.

She also serves as treasurer in the Interact Club and a senior class officer who appears as an anchor on SOHO TV.

With a GPA of 98.12, Hanna is also a Scholar Athlete and member of the National Honor Society. She is planning to study marketing in the fall.

“Despite a global pandemic, shifting instructional models, and the myriad of health and safety guidelines, these two students have truly risen to the occasion and have proven to be extraordinary,” Dr. Mauro said.

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