Meet Class of ‘19’s Top 10
Originally published May 13, 2019 https://shsoracle.blogspot.com/2019/05/meet-class-of-19s-top-10.html
The Oracle brings to you an exclusive interview with the Class of 2019’s Top Ten Students: Caroline Kepler (Valedictorian), Simon Levien (Salutatorian), Julia Young, Sarah West, Josh Williams, Derek Campbell, Zoe Merold, Madison Levinson, Rebecca Greenberg, and James Wang. See them reflect on high school in their own words:
*interview conducted on April 18, 2019*
Where are you going to school and what are you majoring in?
Caroline: I haven’t decided where I’m going to school yet, but I will be attending either the College of William and Mary or Wake Forest University. I will be majoring in Neuroscience.
Simon: Unsure yet! I am currently deciding between Harvard University and Stanford University. Not sure about major but I enjoy both molecular biology and writing/journalism/humanities.
Julia: I still have not decided on a college yet, but I’m thinking about majoring in architecture.
Sarah: I am going to Cornell University majoring in biomedical engineering.
Josh: I am currently undecided for what college I will attend. My top three choices, however, are Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, and Northeastern. I plan to major in business and minor in economics, and I also plan to attend graduate school to obtain an MBA.
Derek: I’m currently undecided on which school I will be attending, but my options are currently University of Rochester, RIT, RPI, and Northeastern University. As for my planned major, I see myself in the field of chemical engineering or chemistry.
Zoe: I am going to Virginia Tech, where I will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
Madison: I am going to play lacrosse at Columbia University. The curriculum there is a common core so I don’t pick a major until the end of my sophomore year. However, I may go into psychology or political science. I’ll have to see the opportunities I have there and go with the major that really calls to me.
Rebecca: As of right now, I am deciding between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Technology (RPI) and University of Rochester. I plan to major in Biomedical engineering as well as Business Administration.
James: I plan on attending Johns Hopkins University with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics.
How have you successfully balanced your time between school and extracurricular activities?
Rebecca: I have learned how to balance my time between school and extracurricular activities through trial and error. As a bright-eyed Freshman, I wanted to take the most rigorous classes and attend every extracurricular activity; however, I quickly found out this was not practical. Through my years at Sparta High School, I have learned how to prioritize. Sometimes it’s important to miss that basketball game in order to study for that chem test, and sometimes its just as important to go to that basketball game and maybe not study this time around. Overall, learning how to prioritize and welcoming the idea of sacrifice, is how I successfully balanced my time between school and extracurricular activities.
Caroline: I have successfully balanced my time between school and extracurricular activities by planning out my days ahead of time and attempting to finish assignments on days that I have fewer activities. In addition, I usually bring homework to do on bus rides or downtime before games and I try to finish homework right after practice so I do not have to stay up super late at night.
Simon: Before every school year I did some long-term planning, I made a spreadsheet full of contests/competitions/scholarships/programs I wanted to partake in throughout the school year and kept it updated as I did more research throughout the year. Generally, schoolwork came second to the activities I did outside of school.
Derek: I will be perfectly honest, I have yet to master the skill of proper time management, though I do try to keep track of certain due dates and events in order to prioritize what I should do first, then proceed to complete the tasks set before me on a small goal system (ie. do “x” amount of work or work for “x” amount of time before taking a mental reprieve).
Is there anything you wish you had done differently in high school?
James: In reality, I kind of wish I didn’t spend all of my time throughout high school playing video games. However, I believe it’s important not to regret the time I “wasted” earlier in my life. I was a different person back then, so now I try to make choices that I won’t regret for the person I am today.
Caroline: There isn’t anything that I wish I had done differently in high school because everything I have done to this point has caused me to meet and be close to people who I couldn’t imagine my life without.
Madison: High school is tough and I wish I could have been more mature when I was an underclassmen. However, you shouldn’t live with regret. Every choice you make is for a reason and will teach you very worthwhile lessons.
What is the most important lesson you think you have learned in high school?
Julia: High school has taught me that there is more than just one type of intelligence. Throughout these past four years, I have come to notice the different ways in which all of my classmates have excelled and how everyone’s strengths can work together by bringing varying viewpoints to the table. It’s not all about book smarts.
Josh: Throughout middle school, I was only an average student because I didn’t put any effort into school. For example, I only studied for one test throughout all three years and I did my homework in band (if at all). That being said, I’ve learned that the only way to get to where you want to be is through hard work and effort.
Derek: Probably one of the biggest lessons I learned is “don’t be afraid and/or too stubborn to ask for help”. Your teachers, tutors, and fellow students are there to help you. If you don’t understand something, ask questions, and even if someone can’t give you the answer, the discussion you have with that person could help direct you in the right answer for solving the issue (and this issue can range from homework help to more personal issues).
What advice would you give to incoming seniors and underclassmen?
Caroline: I would tell underclassmen that high school goes by a lot faster than you’d expect and as much as you might believe you can’t wait to be done, leaving is going to harder than you think, so make the most of time that you have.
Sarah: To incoming seniors, the end of senior year is one of the times where you have a lot of freedom and relatively small responsibility. Enjoy the time you have with your friends and use your absences and tardies wisely, but don’t forget that your classes and jobs and responsibilities still exist (it is possible to take advantage of this time without completely falling into senioritis). To underclassmen, work hard, but make your mental health a priority.
Josh: Seniors: Try to get all of your college applications done as soon as possible; start them in the summer. Underclassmen: Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.
Derek: To the underclassmen, I would say “try to hit the ground running”. You don’t have to overwork yourself to the extreme, but don’t slack off you first years of High School; try to get the maximum information out of all your classes to prepare yourself for later, more challenging subjects. To the seniors, I would say to not fall off the boat. Colleges definitely like looking at midyear grades, so keeping those up is important. I would also recommend a challenging schedule, just make sure you are exercising your brain for college readiness. My final recommendation is to make sure you stay on top of college business; talk to your guidance counselor, visit schools, apply for scholarships, et cetera. With that being said, always remember those who were there with you and make the most of your final school years.
Zoe: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. You will end up regretting it. And make sure you are taking care of yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally, throughout high school.
Rebecca: My advice to the incoming seniors and underclassmen is to enjoy every moment of high school. Enjoy the good, the bad, and the ugly, because, within each, there are vital life lessons.
James: Take only the classes that interest you. APs, Class rank, GPA, Extracurriculars, any other numbers — stop it. Don’t impress the colleges. Let them be impressed by you.