Mr. Deitelzweig will attend Princeton University in the fall, and Ms. Li is headed to Brown University. Both plan to study computer science.
“On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, I want to congratulate Stella Li and Jackson Deitelzweig on being named salutatorian and valedictorian for the Class of 2018,” Mr. Walsh said. “Both of these students have continually impressed their teachers during their four years at Byram Hills. Their thirst for knowledge and passion for learning are the qualities that stand out most. They are true role models for the students who will follow in their footsteps. We are incredibly proud of their achievements.”
Mr. Deitelzweig, 17, was a part of Mock Trial, the Academic Challenge Team, the Tech Club, he ran spring track and was a student in the three-year Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. He won the Byram Hills outstanding achievement award in math this year and last year, and won the Harvard Prize Book as a junior.
“I was really happy about learning that I was valedictorian, especially after working so hard over the past four years,” he said.
He said Byram Hills had prepared him well for life after high school.
“Byram Hills definitely has great facilities for everything I was studying,” he said. “I want to go into computer science or a math or science field and the fact that we have a science research program where you can focus on anything and learn everything about it, that just prepares you so much for what’s going to be happening in the real world.”
“On top of that, the internship program showed me what it’s actually going to be like if I want to work in engineering or computer science,” he said. “So all the different programs at Byram Hills and all the facilities have really prepared you for what you’re going to be doing every day at a job.”
He cited Lisa Pellegrino, the Byram Hills math Chairperson, as a teacher who made a difference in his academic career.
“She worked in computer science so she’s been like a role model and mentor to me in the kinds of things I should be learning and the kind of things I should be curious about,” Mr. Deitelzweig said. “And the way she taught her class was kind of different from all other teachers. It was more of a problem-solving class than a math class. She wouldn’t just stand up there and lecture, but she’d have us figure things out on our own, so I kind of changed my perspective of how a math class should be taught and it made me appreciate the subject more.”
Ms. Li, 18, was a National Merit Scholarship finalist, a Regeneron scholar and a student in the Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. A violinist, she won the National School Orchestra Award and also won an award for outstanding senior English student.
On being named salutatorian, she said: “It really solidifies for me that what I did in high school kind of accumulated to this and it makes it feel like all the effort I put in counted for something.”
Her academic success was due in part to her love of learning.
“I really like learning, even for things that maybe weren’t my best subjects, and I’m very enthusiastic to learn new things,” she said. “I think that encouraged me to seek harder forms of study and really be engaged in what I was learning.”
She urged students coming up at Byram Hills to follow their passions.
“Pursue whatever interests you and the most challenging material you can, and don’t worry about failing because sometimes you can accomplish a lot more than you maybe thought you could, especially when placed in a demanding environment like a harder course,” she said.
Ms. Li also highlighted Ms. Pellegrino as a teacher who made a difference. “She has an interesting way of teaching math that helped set me up for success in higher math courses and rekindled my interest in math, especially when it was getting a little dense,” she said.