Top of their class at East Meadow

Following years of dedication to academics, extracurricular activities and the community, East Meadow High School valedictorian Zainab Nathani and salutatorian Nirali Mandavawala, and W.T. Clarke High School valedictorian Justin Melkun and salutatorian Ryan Seerattan, reflect upon their educational accomplishments in the East Meadow School District.  
Zainab, who finishes her academic career with a 109.521 GPA, excelled in her course load of Advanced Placement, honors and college-level classes, in addition to her involvement in school organizations. She was a news editor for the school newspaper, the Jet Gazette, and a member of the Environmental Club, Key Club, Math and Science Research teams, and every honor society offered at her school. In addition, she volunteers as a youth group leader at her mosque, mentoring younger children.

Along with graduating at the top of her class, Zainab is a recipient of the President Volunteer Service Award, the Distinguished Key Club Lieutenant Governor Award, the Senator Kemp Hannon Youth Leadership Award, and the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award. She also won a National Merit Scholarship and a New York Higher Education Services Corporation Scholarship for Academic Excellence. In addition, she is a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership alumna and school representative.

In the fall, Zainab, who aspires to become a doctor, will study medicine at Brooklyn College. She credits her AP Biology teacher, Dr. Joseph Emmitt, for having a major impact on her future.

“Learning from Dr. Emmitt’s AP Biology class influenced me to pursue a career in medicine,” she said. “I never thought I’d like the class or material, but because of his teaching style, I truly enjoyed it.”  

With an equally challenging course load and heavy involvement in school organizations and community activities, East Meadow High School salutatorian Nirali Mandavawala will be graduating with a 108.526 GPA.

Nirali was involved in the Math and Science Research teams, was a member of every honor society at her school, belonged to the Key Club and played varsity tennis. She also teaches piano to younger musicians.

In addition to her achievements in the classroom, Nirali received the New York State Board of Regents Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Stony Brook University Presidential Scholarship.  

Reminiscing about her time in the district, Nirali will miss her friends and teachers the most.

“I’ve been together with my friends since the seventh or eighth grade,” she said. “Not seeing them every day is going to be a difficult adjustment. I’m also going to miss the constant guidance from my teachers, especially my English teacher, Ms. Sideri. She was passionate and always went the extra mile for us.”

In the fall, Nirali will attend the Honors College at Stony Brook University, where she will major in biology.   

Graduating with a 109.843 GPA, W.T. Clarke High School valedictorian Justin Melkun achieved this honorable designation by exploring all opportunities during his high school years. He enrolled in multiple Advanced Placement, college-level and honor courses, served in an array of school organizations and clubs, was involved in sports and volunteered within the community.

Beyond the classroom, Justin was a member of Mathletes, DECA, the Science Research team, and the Mathematics, English and Foreign Language honor societies. He also played alto saxophone in the marching band and jazz ensemble. On the field, he was a running back and safety for the school’s football team and ran winter and spring track. In his scientific studies, he conducted a research project about the ocean’s dead zone to rehabilitate vegetation from which future generations would benefit.       

In reflecting on his time at Clarke, Justin remembers the great experiences he had while playing organized sports with his friends. “I’ve grown up with these kids, and I’m going to miss getting together with them to play sports,” he said.

The top-ranked senior will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall, where he plans to major in engineering. “I have a love for both math and science, and I hope to pursue a career that encompasses both elements,” he said.

Continuing the advanced academic course load he’s had since the eighth grade, salutatorian Ryan Seerattan will be graduating with a 108.806 GPA. While achieving success in the classroom, Ryan also participated in numerous organizations, clubs and sports, in addition to helping other students in the community.

Ryan was co-president of DECA, a research liaison, and a member of Mathletes, the Science Research team, and the Mathematics, Science, Foreign Language and English honor societies, as well as president of the National Honor Society. He utilizes his musical talents as a member of the chamber orchestra and second chair viola in the school’s orchestra. Ryan also played on the varsity tennis team during his time at Clarke. In his free time, he privately tutors special needs students.

Ryan will be heading to Macaulay Honors College in the fall, where he plans to major in biology. He said he will miss the small atmosphere of Clarke High School, noting, “Everyone knows everyone here at Clarke. It’s nice to be a part of a small community with administrators, teachers and classmates who support and care for you.”