Meet The East Meadow Class of 2017 Valedictorians And Salutatorians

Meet The East Meadow Class of 2017 Valedictorians And Salutatorians Photo
Meet The East Meadow Class of 2017 Valedictorians And Salutatorians Photo 2
Culminating their years of educational accomplishments, extracurricular activities and community involvement, East Meadow High School valedictorian Mahalia Mathelier and salutatorian Sonali Persaud, and W.T. Clarke High School valedictorian Alby Joseph and salutatorian Priya Aggarwal, reflected upon their time in the district.  

Finishing her academic career with a 107.856 GPA, Mahalia excelled in her Advanced Placement, honors and college-level classes while participating in school organizations and volunteering within her community. Her diverse interests and talents were evident as a member of Model Congress, French Club, and Business and Social Studies honor societies. A leader among her peers, she served on the National Honor Society Executive Board and was treasurer of the English Honor Society and secretary of Key Club. Her activities were rounded out as a member of the school’s kickline team, the Rockettes, and news editor of the school newspaper, the Jet Gazette.

Outside of the classroom, Mahalia volunteers at the Nassau County Youth Court in Hempstead, where she has been learning the ins and outs of the legal process. The program provides an opportunity for children and adolescents who commit low-level offenses to be adjudicated by their peers.

Among her fondest memories, Mahalia cites the moment that the entire student body cheered for her when she was announced as this year’s valedictorian.

“The outpouring of kindness I received from my peers and teachers was so heartwarming,” she recalled. “Being stopped and congratulated by so many people made me realize how much I am going to miss this school.”

She will pursue a major in economics with a minor in political science at Harvard University in the fall.

Graduating with a 107.4 GPA, Sonali was a leader within the student body as well. She served on the executive board of the National Honor Society, was co-president of the Social Studies Honor Society, chaired the Key Club, and was a member of Model Congress, Mathletes, Peer Leaders, and the Tri-M Music and Science honor societies. In addition, she played on the varsity tennis team for all four years. Her intrinsic motivation to help others prompted her founding of Glamour Girls, an organization that promotes female leadership and provides free cosmetic services to residents of senior citizen homes. She is also a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership alumna and school representative.

In her scientific studies, Sonali measured and manipulated oscillatory gene expression in caenorhabditis elegans at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Hammell.

Within her community, Sonali completed her Girl Scout Silver Award and, for her leadership award, aims to start an organization similar to Glamour Girls at hospitals for patients and their families. She has shadowed doctors at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where she also volunteers in the maternity ward, garnering her interest in pediatric health.

The Class of 2017 salutatorian looks forward to the next phase of her education at Georgetown University, where she plans to study health policy on a pre-med track with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist or cardiologist.     

“I will always remember my caring teachers and friends at East Meadow for being my greatest support system over the years,” Sonali said. “The help they gave me when my research project unexpectedly took a wrong turn resulted in me winning the NYSSEF [New York State Science and Engineering Fair] Andromeda award.”  

 As valedictorian, Alby ends his tenure at W.T. Clarke High School with a 110.39 GPA. Along with achieving success in the classroom, his community service, involvement in school clubs and musical accomplishments have left an impression on the Class of 2017.

The top-ranked senior is president of the National, Tri-M Music and Science honor societies, as well as a member of Mathletes, Science Olympiads, the English, Math and Foreign Language honor societies, and the Mock Trial team, which recently won the New York State championship. In addition, he is features editor of the school newspaper, the Vanguard. Playing the cello since the fourth grade, Alby has performed in All-Eastern, All-County, All-State and Long Island String Festival Association concerts, in addition to performing in the pit orchestra for the school’s musicals. Outside of Clarke, he has volunteered at the information desk of Nassau University Medical Center.

Through the school’s Science Research program, Alby interned at Stony Brook University, where, under the mentorship of Professor Iwao Ojima, he studied a new way to treat pain by attacking a specific protein. His project earned him third place in the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, designation as a  Siemens Competition semifinalist and Regeneron Scholar, and publication of his work in the Columbia University Junior Science Journal.     

Along with his scientific achievements, Alby was named a National Merit Scholarship Program winner.

The Clarke valedictorian will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, where he will major in chemical engineering.

“One of the reasons I chose MIT was because it seemed the most like Clarke,” he explained. “Clarke’s diverse, close-knit community is what I’m going to miss most but also what I’m most looking forward to when I arrive at MIT.”

Finishing her high school career with a 108.42 GPA, Priya graduates as W.T. Clarke salutatorian following years of challenging course loads and heavy involvement in school and community activities.

During her tenure at Clarke, Priya studied computer science on her own time, which led her to create a computer science initiative on campus. Due to her efforts, a course in the subject will be offered to students in the fall. Applying her strong work ethic to science research, she conducted an experiment at Molloy College that focused on applying the principles of evolution to evaluate how cancer recurs after a variety of treatments. Additionally, she was named a 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Student for her outstanding academic performance and SAT scores.

Aside from her studies, Priya was involved in Science Olympiads and Mathletes, served as layout editor of the Vanguard, and belonged to every honor society at her school. Her greatest passions were serving as DECA president for two consecutive years and actively participating in the school’s Multicultural Club. The DECA team made school history this year by sending 70 members to the state competition and 16 to the International Career Development Conference in California. In April, during the Multicultural Club’s annual show that highlights the different cultures of Clarke High School, Priya performed two Indian dances and two American Sign Language routines.

“The best experiences of my life came about as a member of the Multicultural Club for the past four years,” said Priya. “I’ve always loved being involved in a tight-knit group and making connections that I know will last the rest of my life.”

Outside of Clarke, Priya volunteered at St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington, where she shadowed doctors and assisted visitors.

Capping off her academic achievements, Priya received the Stony Brook University Presidential Scholarship, covering the cost of tuition at SBU, where she will enroll in the Women in Science and Engineering program and major in human evolutionary biology in the fall.

“Clarke has done so much for us by providing all these wonderful opportunities,” she said. “Being a part of this community, having these teachers and interacting with all the grade levels has shaped me into the person I am today. I could not be more grateful for my time at Clarke.”