A sweet tradition has begun at Byram Hills High School: the Senior Walk.
The Class of 2019 set off on the first Senior Walk after graduation rehearsal on June 12, as the seniors promenaded through the hallways where they once walked as middle school and elementary school students.
As they moved through H.C. Crittenden Middle School, Wampus Elementary School and Coman Hill Elementary School, they glimpsed their past just days before graduation and the start of their next chapter. So many memories. Such small lockers, and even smaller students.
The event gave the seniors a way to come together as a class and say goodbye to the District while inspiring younger students. The grade school students and their teachers applauded and waved to the big kids and many seniors stooped down to high-five the younger children who sat on the floor outside their classrooms.
Spontaneous reunions broke out in each school between teachers and their former students, with many hearty hugs and handshakes and proud words of congratulations.
The seniors loved the fun, nostalgia-filled walk down memory lane and seeing teachers they had not seen for years, said Zach Cogan, a senior who helped organize the event.
“It’s a nice way to end everything and say goodbye to our school,” he said. “I liked being part of this group.”
“The senior class leaves behind this legacy of unity of our school and a good way to say goodbye to Byram Hills,” he added.
Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh was thrilled that the Class of 2019 was excited to take the first-ever Senior Walk.
“I love the way it ties together the mission of the District,” he said. “Our graduating seniors really do fulfill that mission. It’s important for everybody in the community to really understand that they play an important role in helping them achieve that mission.”
“It’s also important for all of our graduating seniors to acknowledge and show gratitude to all of those people who helped them get to this point,” he added. “That includes all of their former teachers, staff members, custodians, secretaries. It really does take a village to get them there.”
At Coman Hill, Elise Feder, a kindergarten teacher who has worked in Byram Hills for 30 years, loved seeing the halls filled with students who “take up much more vertical space than our little ones.”
“I saw faces that had changed and yet were the same,” she said. “We could watch recognition and joy spread across the high schoolers’ faces as memories came rushing back.”
Susan Tyrrell, a first grade teacher who has worked in the District for 25 years, said she could feel the students’ joy and excitement as they came past her in the hall.
“It was a good feeling to see the seniors tour the school where their lives in Byram Hills begin,” she said. “I appreciated the seniors who sought me out in the hallway, letting me know my classroom was once home to them.”
Senior Ellen Amico said the event was a great way for students to reflect on their time at Byram Hills.
“Seeing some of my old teachers for likely the last time and all the students that are there now was so fun!” she said. “I think it’ll be a cherished tradition in the future.”
Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce the top-ranked students from the Class of 2019: Alan Chang is this year’s valedictorian and Emma Lucchino is the salutatorian.
The students, who have the highest weighted grade point averages, will be recognized at this year’s commencement on June 18.
“Congratulations to Alan and Emma on earning valedictorian and salutatorian honors,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It is an incredible achievement and the faculty and staff are very proud of their hard work and dedication during their four years with us. These achievements have earned them the honor of addressing their classmates at Byram Hills High School's 51st Commencement Ceremony. They join a distinguished list of valedictorians and salutatorians who have come before them.”
Alan, 18, is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study in the Vagelos Life Sciences & Management program in pursuit of a dual degree in science and business. During his four years at Byram Hills, Alan, a STEAM-focused student, was deeply involved in school life while earning wide national recognition for his academic achievements.
Alan was a semifinalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition and a National AP Scholar. He is a member of the Byram Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society, an honor for the top 10 percent of the class. A student in the three-year Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills, Alan was a semifinalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search and his research was published in the scientific journal Cell Systems.
As a junior, Alan won the Harvard Prize Book and the Columbia University Book awards. This year, he won the Byram Hills mathematics award for outstanding senior.
He also was co-president of the Interact Club, a community service group; co-captain of the Math Team; co-president of Science Olympiad; co-captain of Mock Trial; secretary of eNable, a community service club; captain of the Academic Challenge team and he was co-captain of the swim team junior and senior years and earned All-League distinction as a senior. Alan is an accomplished pianist, violinist and Chinese calligrapher.
Becoming the valedictorian felt like a reward for all of his years of hard work, and a validation of the effort he put into his studies.
“It’s humbling, but yet it’s something I’m very proud of,” Alan said. “I was happy and proud that all of the long nights and hours of studying was worth it at the end.”
Alan said the key to his academic success at Byram Hills was a combination of determination and a strong work ethic, while always trying to work to his full potential and stay on top of his studies. “It’s setting a goal for myself and holding myself to the goal that I set, even when it seemed intimidating and hard,” he said. “My central mantra was, be the best me I can be, and to not do less than what I think I’m capable of.”
He said Byram Hills has prepared him well for life after high school, especially by teaching him skills that are not traditionally covered in the classroom. As a science research student, he learned to send professional emails and present his research in public.
“The teachers here are phenomenal,” he said. “They are excellent at explaining complicated concepts and they’re always open to helping me, whether it’s at lunch, before school or after school. In addition to academics, they give worldly and life advice. They provide support outside of the class and they’ve taught me a lot of real world skills. Byram Hills has done a great job in implicitly preparing a proper work ethic and a proper college mindset.”
Alan urged students coming up behind him at Byram Hills to go after what they want, but also to remember the other things in life, like extracurricular activities and friends, that matter.
“Do the things that you like and set your goals and hold yourself to those goals and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve,” he said. “Challenge yourself, but keep in mind everything else that is important.”
The most important lesson he learned in high school is to be open-minded when it comes to finding solutions to problems or obstacles, and to always keep pushing forward, even after a setback.
“It’s the importance of moving on and learning from mistakes and to keep going and not to be held down by any problems you’re dealing with because that only wastes time and takes away from your future endeavors,” he said.
Emma, 17, plans to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, and is leaning toward a major in a STEAM field.
Emma was a National Merit semifinalist and is a member of the Byram Hills Cum Laude Society and the World Language Honor Society. A student in the science research program, she placed third as a poster presenter at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and third at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair.
As a junior, she won the University of Pennsylvania Book award, and this year, she won an award for outstanding senior English students at Byram Hills and the award for general excellence in French. She was co-president of the Second Grade Club, a member of the Autism Speaks Club and a volunteer at the Mount Kisco Child Care Center. She played field hockey at Byram Hills for all four years, and was also a chemistry teaching assistant senior year.
Emma was excited to learn she had been named salutatorian.
“I feel like it’s rewarding after working really hard for the past four years of high school to have this honor,” she said. “It represents everything I’ve been through. I don’t think that every class I took in high school was easy, that every grade I got, that I earned it easily. There were definitely times when I was frustrated, so it reminds me of how I persevered through that and still was able to earn this honor.”
She credited being organized and having good time management skills with helping her succeed. “It’s one thing to be able to perform well on a test,” she said, “but you always have to be thinking ahead and you have to plan your time well.”
Emma urged younger students to never give up as they move through high school.
“Keep trying because there are definitely times when the work will get hard or it will be frustrating, especially now with finals and APs, but if you keep trying and push through, it will be rewarding at the end,” she said.
Emma summed up the most important thing she learned at Byram Hills this way: “Instead of just learning facts in high school, I learned how to think.”
“You learn to analyze information and interpret it for yourself,” Emma said. “Learning one fact will only apply to that one unit or class, but if you learn how to think, you can apply it to all subjects and life beyond.”
“I definitely have a really good foundation for what I’m going to learn in college.”
If you are looking for an engaging summer read, consider picking up Frank Bruni’s “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.”
The book is the subject of the first Byram Hills Community Book Read, and will be discussed at the Byram Hills High School library on October 17 at 6 p.m. The event is open to the entire Byram Hills school community, including parents, students, teachers and community members.
The book talk, led by the Byram Hills Challenge Success Steering Committee, will engage the community in a productive and respectful discussion about the college application process.
“We hope to broaden the community’s understanding of the college application process and the stress our students are often under,” Principal Christopher Walsh said.
The book appears on the independent reading list for Byram Hills students. “We are hoping many of them will read it, especially our incoming 11th graders as they really start to ramp up the college admissions process,” Mr. Walsh said.
Byram Hills High School has been working with the nonprofit Challenge Success to help redefine what it means to be a successful student and to help bring more balance to the college admissions process.
In addition to the October book read, future discussions are planned for January and April.
The individual accomplishments of dozens of Byram Hills High School juniors and seniors were celebrated at the annual Awards Ceremony on May 22, a night filled with handshakes and hugs and rounds of proud applause.
Many of the upperclassmen were recognized during the school year at the local, state and national level by organizations including the National Merit Scholarship Corp., Section 1 and New York State athletics, Con Edison, Regeneron, The College Board, the New York State School Music Association and many more.
“It’s been an incredible year for our students on so many different levels,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “They were celebrated for their work in and out of the classrooms.”
Mr. Walsh thanked parents and other relatives in the packed audience, saying their hours of support helped the students succeed. “None of the students would have been able to make it through to this point without you,” he said.
The top honor for a graduating senior, the Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award sponsored by the Byram Hills Parent Teacher Student Association, went to Robert Waxman. Robert, whose award comes with a $1,000 scholarship, thanked his family, coaches, classmates and friends and the PTSA. He also thanked the administrators, faculty and staff.
“Thank you for making Byram Hills a home away from home for each and every one of us,” he said in accepting the award. “Thank you for making it a place where we all feel safe to take risks, to explore and to learn and grow at our own pace.”
The PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award, which is voted on by students, was presented to Lindsey Grotta. It also comes with a $1,000 scholarship.
A new award, the Michele Delamonico Memorial Scholarship Award, celebrates the memory of the beloved math teacher who passed away last year and comes with a $1,000 scholarship from the Byram Hills teachers and administrators associations. After a heartfelt tribute by Math Chairperson Lisa Pellegrino, the honor was presented to Jack Kenny.
The complete list of winners:
JAMIE TESTA ONWARD AND UPWARD SCHOLARSHIP: Given to a senior who shows exemplary commitment to helping others and dedication to public service.
ARMONK LIONS CLUB SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS: Awarded to seniors for their outstanding, active, public and/or community service during their high school years.
EVIA MASCARO & SPENCER WEINHOFF
NORTH CASTLE POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIP: Presented to a senior who has shown academic excellence and a commitment to the North Castle community.
ARMONK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARD: Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated impressive business acumen, responsibility and dedication either as an employee of a local business establishment or as an entrepreneur.
JOHN A. LOMBARDI SCHOLARSHIP: Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding civic service and achievement.
THE NYS COMPTROLLER’S 2019 STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Given to seniors for academic achievement and outstanding community service.
SAMANTHA KREVOLIN & DAVID MCDANIELS
WELLESLEY COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior outstanding in her academic performance, character, and contributions to school and/or community life.
MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who has earned an excellent academic record and who has exhibited qualities of leadership and service in the school community.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to an academically- outstanding junior who demonstrates intellectual leadership and strong character.
BRANDEIS BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who demonstrates commitment to academics and service to his/her community.
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA BOOK AWARD: Given to a junior with outstanding character and high academic achievement, who provides important service to school or community.
YALE UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior in recognition of outstanding character and intellectual promise with diverse skills and leadership qualities.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and scholarly research in a rigorous college preparatory program.
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE BOOK AWARDS: Awarded to juniors who exhibit excellent academic achievement and who contribute to the extracurricular activities of the school.
SPENCER KARP & ELLA MANNERS
CORNELL UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who has demonstrated academic excellence, as well as outstanding dedication to extracurricular activities and meaningful participation in community service.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN – Outstanding Student Award:
HARVARD PRIZE BOOK AWARDS: Given to outstanding juniors who display excellence in scholarship and high character.
SAMUEL ABERMAN & ELENA LOWE
TULANE UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who embodies Tulane’s motto “Not for one’s self, but for one’s own” and is a true servant leader.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who demonstrates excellence in civic engagement and a commitment to independent and creative thought.
CLARKSON UNIVERSITY ACHIEVEMENT AND LEADERSHIP AWARDS: Given to juniors having an academic interest in engineering, business, science or liberal arts.
ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: ISABELLE NELSON
LEADERSHIP AWARD: DOMINIC PICCA
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA JEFFERSON BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who embraces creativity and innovation, and embodies the spirit of discovery, much like the University’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. The student is a demonstrated citizen leader who works to improve their community locally or globally.
SMITH COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who combines academic excellence with participation in extracurricular activities and a commitment to community service.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN – Excellence in Writing Award:
SENIOR ENGLISH AWARDS: for outstanding senior English students:
EMMA LUCCHINO & LINDSEY PERLMAN
ED WALZER WRITING AWARD: This award was established by the family of Ed Walzer, a graduate of Byram Hills who went on to have a career as a writer. The family has asked that the English department present the award to dedicated writers in the hope that they will pursue their passion for writing.
SOCIAL STUDIES AWARDS
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to an exceptional junior who has achieved outstanding scholarship in the subject of Social Studies.
SOCIAL SCIENCES AWARD: Given to a senior who has shown exceptional growth in the field of Social Studies.
NORTH CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AWARD: Given to a senior who has excelled in American History, European History, and/or the senior electives.
HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES DEPARTMENT AWARD: Presented to a senior who is an outstanding and serious history scholar.
THE NORTH CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY HISTORICAL RESEARCH AWARD IN HONOR OF RICHARD LANDER AND DORIS FINCH WATSON: Given to a student who has an interest and passion in historic research to honor North Castle’s late town historians.
STUDENT RECOGNITION PROGRAM for outstanding achievement in Mathematics:
Outstanding Senior: ALAN CHANG Outstanding Junior: SPENCER KARP
THE KEN HAMILTON MEMORIAL AWARD: Given to a senior who has displayed exceptional skills in software design, programming, systems analysis and hardware configuration; and who demonstrates excellent understanding and appreciation of computer science.
RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AWARD for outstanding achievement in Math/Science:
THE FARADAY AWARD: Presented to a senior who can manage long-term projects from inception to conclusion and create solutions in non-traditional ways.
BYRAM HILLS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN SCIENCE: Awarded to an outstanding senior for excellence in science:
BAUSCH & LOMB AWARD: Presented to an outstanding junior science student:
BYRAM HILLS AWARD FOR POTENTIAL IN SCIENCE: Awarded to an outstanding junior for potential in science:
WORLD LANGUAGE AWARDS: honors the senior that has demonstrated a superior command of the language:
For general excellence in Italian: SAMANTHA ABBRUZZESE
For general excellence in Spanish: JONAH SCHWAM
For general excellence in French: EMMA LUCCHINO
THE DUAL LANGUAGE AWARD: awarded to a senior that has demonstrated a superior command of two upper level languages, taken concurrently.
FINE ARTS AWARDS
PTSA ARTS SCHOLARSHIP:
BYRAM HILLS HIGH SCHOOL ART AWARD:
SENIOR AWARD: COMMITMENT TO THE ARTS:
MUSIC AND THEATRE AWARDS
THE JOHN PHILIP SOUSA NATIONAL BAND AWARDS: In recognition of outstanding achievement and interest in instrumental music, for singular merit in loyalty and cooperation, outstanding performance and dedication to participation in band work.
THE LOUIS ARMSTRONG JAZZ AWARD:
THE NATIONAL CHORAL AWARD:
SHEA GORDON & ISABELLE ILAN
OUTSTANDING CAREER CONTRIBUTION TO THE THEATRE PROGRAM:
SHEA GORDON, HANNAH HOLDEN, SYDNEY NEPO & NICOLE TISSOT
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AWARDS
SEZ (Southeastern Zone) AWARD:
Male: JEFFREY FERNANDES MAXWELL PIERCE
Female: TALENE BASIL NINA BROWN
BHHS SPORTSPERSONS OF THE YEAR:
Male: MICHAEL KALIAN
Female: LINDSEY GROTTA
LYNN ROSENTHAL MEMORIAL AWARD: Female Scholar/Athlete of the year:
WILLIAM A. McCOY, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD: Male Scholar/Athlete of the year:
VINCENT GRECO AWARD: Presented to a senior who has demonstrated resiliency and has been a positive contributor to the Byram Hills High School community.
MICHELE DELAMONICO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD: This award celebrates the memory of a beloved teacher, colleague, mentor, and club advisor at Byram Hills High School. The BHTA and the BHAA honor a senior student who exhibits the qualities that Michele was known for; resilience, love of learning, collaboration, service to others, sense of humor, and academic engagement. Michele gave back to our community in many ways. She left behind a legacy of care, commitment, and community building. The award will be given to a student who personifies those ideals.
PTSA CARUOLO LEADERSHIP AWARD: This award is granted to a senior on the basis of leadership, character, dedication, loyalty, humanity, and interest in education.
HY BLATTE-JACK WOLLENBERG MEMORIAL AWARD: This award goes to a senior who has a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend himself for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges.
There’s more great news from the Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills High School, this time as our student scientists competed on an international stage.
Three seniors, Samantha Abbruzzese, Renner Kwittken and Brent Perlman, qualified to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, last week.
Renner won a third place award in the category of Translational Medical Science. His research is titled “Priming the Tumor Microenvironment with Cyclophosphamide to Enhance Nanoparticle Delivery: An Imaging Study.”
Brent won a fourth place honor in the Microbiology category. His study is called “Human Photosynthesis: Functional Chloroplast Sequestration in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells.”
“Congratulations to our three students for their outstanding scientific research and on earning a spot to compete at this prestigious event,” said Dr. Caroline Matthew, a teacher in the Authentic Science Research Program.
“Congratulations to Renner and Brent for their excellent showing,” she added. “We are so proud of their crowning achievement.”
The competition, a program of the Society for Science & the Public, bills itself as the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The event featured over 1,800 young scientists from more than 80 countries, regions and territories.
Dr. Matthew said she was “inspired by the students’ passion and dedication to science, as well as the focus on connection and collaboration. ISEF was an impressive and memorable milestone in their lives.”