BH News

Five Byram Hills High School seniors have been chosen as semifinalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship competition.

The students are Samara Brown, Aaron Lestz, Daniel Ndocaj, Alexander Woodworth
and Yicheng Yang. They can compete for 7,140 scholarships worth nearly $28 million.

September 22, 2023 Update: As we celebrate the achievements of our outstanding students, we're delighted to add one more accolade to the list. Senior Cyrus Aly has been named a National Merit Semifinalist!

More than 1.3 million high school juniors entered the scholarship competition last year by taking the Preliminary SAT, which serves as an initial screening. The Byram Hills students are among more than 16,000 semifinalists, academically talented students who represent less than 1% of high school seniors nationwide.

School leaders congratulated the semifinalists and wished them luck in the scholarship contest.

“We are so proud of the achievements of our outstanding National Merit semifinalists,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It is terrific to see their hard work and dedication recognized.”

Guidance Chairperson Kristina Wilson added: “Their achievement is not just a reflection of individual excellence but also a reflection of the outstanding education they have received from our dedicated teachers, staff, and the support of their families. We are immensely proud of these students and cannot wait to see the incredible contributions they will make to our community and the world beyond.”

To become a finalist, students must submit a detailed application that includes information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, work, honors and awards. They must be recommended by a high school official, write an essay and achieve SAT or ACT scores that confirm their PSAT performance. The finalists will be announced in February.

About 95% of semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and about half of the finalists will win a scholarship and the Merit Scholar title. Merit scholars are chosen for their skills, accomplishments and potential to succeed in a rigorous college program.

The winners will be announced in the spring and summer.

Byram Hills National Merit Semifinalists
From left to right: Samara Brown, Aaron Lestz, Daniel Ndocaj, Alexander Woodworth
and Yicheng Yang.

Cyrus Aly

Cyrus Aly

Three seniors from Byram Hills High School have received prestigious All-State honors from the New York State School Music Association, selected from thousands of students who auditioned in the spring at music festivals throughout the state.

Trombonist Aaron Lestz was selected for the All-State Symphonic Band and will perform at the NYSSMA All-State Conference in Rochester, New York, this fall. Alto Morgan Hecht and Valentina Marino, a soprano, were selected as alternates for the All-State Mixed Chorus. 

"Bravo to Aaron, Morgan, and Valentina!” said Marc Beja, the Byram Hills Director of Fine Arts.
“It is such an honor for Byram Hills to have three students receive All-State honors this year. The training and preparation required to earn a perfect or near-perfect score at the NYSSMA All-State solo festival is a true testament to the dedication and musicianship of these students, the high quality of our music teachers and classes, and the District's overall commitment to the arts."

The students felt gratified to be selected as participants or alternates for the All-State concerts.

“I’m very excited to go,” Aaron said. “It’s a great opportunity to really show how I’ve been doing all this time and do a great job.”

Valentina said: “I feel honored. It was a lot of hard work and dedication during the NYSSMA season. Hard work pays off.”

Morgan added: “I’m really proud of myself. NYSSMA is always really challenging. The music is always really challenging. The sight reading is always really challenging. To know the work I put in actually has a payoff is really nice.”  

The All-State NYSSMA performances will be held on Dec. 3 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre of the University of Rochester.

Byram Hills High School NYSSMA
From left, trombonist Aaron Lestz, who was selected to perform in the All-State Symphonic Band, and Valentina Marino, a soprano, and alto Morgan Hecht, who were both chosen as alternates for the All-State Mixed Chorus.

Byram Hills High School proudly announced that the Class of 2023 valedictorian is Samantha Milewicz and the salutatorian is Chloe Bernstein.

“Samantha and Chloe have not only excelled academically but have also made significant contributions to their school community, setting an example for others,” said Principal Christopher Walsh, who announced the top-ranked students on June 14. “The Byram Hills community applauds their outstanding drive, work ethic, and academic excellence.”

The students, who have the highest weighted GPAs, will speak at graduation on June 20.

SamanthaSamantha plans to attend Stanford University and major in symbolic systems, an interdisciplinary major about the intersection of cognitive science, computer science and linguistics. Being named valedictorian, she said, felt fulfilling.

“This honor is recognition of all the hard work, time, and dedication I have put into achieving academic success,” she said. “This achievement is the product of the continuous support and guidance from every teacher and administrator I have encountered. From my elementary school teachers who answered my endless questions to my current teachers who hold deep conversations with me, I am who I am today because of them.”

Samantha is a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar, an honor that recognizes the nation’s top-performing students, and a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

As part of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, she conducted award-winning research that could lead to innovative treatments for traumatic brain injuries. Samantha finished eighth and won a $60,000 award in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search and won second place in the translational medical science category at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.

At Byram Hills, Samantha is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society and the World Languages Honor Society, co-president of the National Art Honor Society, editor-in-chief of The Oracle student newspaper, a member of the Principal’s Student Advisory Committee, captain of the math team and president of the eNable Club.

At school, Samantha won the Roger Case Memorial Scholarship, which honors academic achievement and outstanding community service. Last year, she won the Harvard Prize Book Award, given to outstanding juniors for excellence in scholarship and character, and the Byram Hills Award for Potential in Science.

Outside of school, Samantha volunteers with the Armonk Fire Department as a firefighter and emergency medical technician. She won the 2022 St. Vincent’s Hospital Youth Award, which honors high school students for their volunteer service, and the 2023 Youth Service Award from the Westchester County Youth Board and Bureau.

Samantha is also an accomplished photographer. Her work has been recognized in competitions and she has her own photography business.

Samantha said her time in high school has prepared her well for life after graduation.

“Byram Hills has enabled me to explore all academic areas, from the sciences to the arts,” she said. “Through the rigorous coursework I have completed in each discipline, I have become a technical and analytical thinker and am ready to apply that knowledge to college and the real world.”

Her advice for younger students: “Success is a product of passion. The most important thing is to follow and pursue your interests, and that will lead you toward achieving your goals.”

Mr. Walsh said: “Samantha is an incredibly passionate and determined student. I have been fortunate to have her as a member of my Student Advisory Committee for the past four years and I will miss her thoughtfulness and commitment to making our school and community a better place.”

Chloe Chloe plans to attend Duke University and major in computational biology and bioinformatics.

“I am incredibly grateful, honored, and fulfilled to have been named the salutatorian of my graduating class,” she said. “After many years of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment to my work, I am thrilled to be acknowledged, especially amongst such an impressive student body.”

As part of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, Chloe developed novel plastic-degrading enzymes that can help solve the problem of plastic waste in oceans, landfills and recycling facilities. 

Her research won numerous awards, including third place in environmental engineering at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair and she qualified to be a poster presenter at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium by winning first place in medicine and health and third place overall at the Upstate New York JSHS.

Chloe is also a tennis champion. She played on the Varsity Girls Tennis team for five years, serving as captain her senior year.

In the fall, she won the 2022 New York State doubles championship and played first singles to help Byram Hills win the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II team championship event. In her junior year, she helped Byram Hills win the inaugural team championship contest and finished third in the state doubles championship.

As a senior, Chloe was named a Con Edison Scholar Athlete and won the $10,000 Irwin “Red” Klein Memorial Scholarship from the Con Edison Westchester Scholastic Sports program. She was also a Lohud Tennis Player of the Year.

At Byram Hills, Chloe is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, and a member of the World Languages Honor Society and the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society. She won a senior English award, for outstanding English students, and last year won the Yale University Book Award, given to a junior for outstanding character and intellectual promise with diverse skills and leadership qualities. She was also a chemistry teaching assistant.

Chloe created a nonprofit organization, Breaking Down Plastics, which aims to incentivize the global community to take action against plastic pollution, specifically through biology recycling, a novel plastic treatment strategy.

Chloe said she is ready for her next chapter.

“Byram Hills has equipped me along with the rest of the student body with the tools imperative for success, especially because there is such a strong emphasis on the real-world applications of all of the information we learn within the classroom, whether in the math classroom or a history lecture,” she said.

Chloe said her biggest takeaway from Byram Hills is that “success is not linear and that it is okay to fail.”

Mr. Walsh said: “Chloe has achieved so much both academically and athletically during her time at BHHS. I'm not sure we have ever had a student who combined a state championship with being the salutatorian. Chloe's passion for the things she pursues sets her apart in so many ways.”  

Samantha and Chloe


BookmarksStudent artists at Byram Hills High School had a special delivery for second graders at Coman Hill Elementary School: Bookmarks they drew and painted based on their favorite children’s books, and others with fanciful imagery.

Members of the National Art Honor Society created about 45 bookmark designs and made one for each second grader to celebrate the end of their time at Coman Hill and to use with their summer reading books.

Seniors Samantha Milewicz, president of the honor society, and Abby Eickelbeck, the vice president, brought the bookmarks to Coman Hill on June 8, and met with Lily Li’s students in the library, where each second grader got to choose a bookmark.

“Being back at Coman Hill and interacting with the second graders was amazing,” Abby said. “We talked about our favorite books when we were their age and answered their questions about how we made the bookmarks. We hope this gift inspires them to keep reading as they head into third grade at Wampus and further develops their love of art.”

Abby had the idea for NAHS members to make bookmarks. One summer during the COVID-19 pandemic, Abby and her older sister ran a book drive for students attending a summer literacy program in the Bronx. When they donated the books, the sisters read a story to the students and gave out bookmarks they had made. 

“I thought about bringing that to NAHS because not only would we be spreading art through our community, but it would also encourage more children to read, which is something that’s very important,” she said. “Being able to give back to Coman Hill and connect with the younger students was a great thing to do.”

BookmarksThe honor society members each designed a bookmark, with most based on famous children’s books, so the Coman Hill students could pick a design they felt connected to.  The bookmarks, which are laminated for durability, are based on famous titles including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” “The Lorax,” and “The Rainbow Fish.”

The young students in Ms. Li’s class were happy and excited to choose their favorite. “It was fun helping the students each find a bookmark they loved,” Abby said, adding that all second graders will get a bookmark during library class.

Coman Hill librarian Erin Meyer said the second graders from Ms. Li’s class loved their new bookmarks.

“They were delighted with the beautiful artwork, the familiar characters and meeting some of the artists,” she said. “I was thrilled the BHHS National Art Honor Society reached out to make a connection with our young learners and ignited their enthusiasm for jumping into summer reading in this way! It was a wonderful collaboration.”

Creating the bookmarks was a full-circle moment for the high school students, who took a trip back in time to revisit books they read in their early years.

“It was fun to draw in the style of children’s illustrators because you were able to go outside your comfort zone and draw inspiration from a new place,” Abby said. “Also, we obviously haven’t read those books in a while, so it was going back to our childhood a little bit.”



Clara WeilByram Hills High School senior Clara Weil won a National Merit Rochester Institute of Technology Scholarship.

She was among the more than 3,000 students who won a National Merit Scholarship financed by colleges and universities throughout the United States. The universities chose scholarship winners from the pool of National Merit Scholarship Program finalists who plan to attend their institution.

Clara intends to major in human centered computing and hopes to work in web design.

“Congratulations to Clara on being named a National Merit Scholarship winner,” her school counselor, Meaghan Williams, said. “Clara has taken advantage of all of our computer science courses, advocated to complete an independent study in computer science during her senior year where she added features to our myBobCat app, tutors in computer science, and helped to contribute features to the MyFitness app through a summer program.”

“Clara does not shy away from a challenge and is truly passionate about her work,” she added. “I wish her the best of luck at RIT next year!”

Students entered the National Merit Scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as juniors, which served as an initial screening.


Twenty-four students in the Byram Hills High School Authentic Science Research Program competed at the Somers Science Fair, the only competition open to students in their first year of science research study. 

Thirteen students won awards at the June 3 event. More than 600 students participated in the science fair.

“Congratulations to all of our sophomores who participated in this unique opportunity,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the science research program. “We are so proud of all of them and their hard work.”

Students in the three-year program conduct original research using the scientific method.

Here are the results of the Byram Hills sophomores:

Andrew Levy - Medicine & Health
Maya Molloy and Adrianna Zawojek - Behavior

Kayleigh McLaughlin and John Cavada - Medicine & Health
Aaron Stein and Keira Eckhardt - Behavior

Arielle Molina, Kiki Dyer, Charles Zimmerman, Amelia Deeks - Behavior
Sebastian Lashmet - Computer Science
Gabe Goldman - Environmental Science

Andrew Levy
Andrew Levy

Adrianna Zawojek, at left, and Maya Molloy


Byram Hills High School honored juniors and seniors at the annual awards ceremony, highlighting their individual achievements throughout high school.

“The awards ceremony is a time for us to reflect on our academic year and to celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” Principal Christopher Walsh said in the high school theater on May 31.

He noted that the seniors were in their first year of high school when the coronavirus pandemic began.

“It’s fair to say that their high school experience has been the most unique in the history of our school,” he said. “They have shown a remarkable ability to improvise, adapt and overcome the challenges thrown at them and their resiliency is extremely commendable. I am very happy that our juniors have had the senior class modeling the way for them.”

The students were recognized at the building, district, local, state, national and international levels by organizations including the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Section 1 Athletics, New York State Athletics, Con Edison, Regeneron, the College Board, New York State School Music Association, the Presidential Scholars Program and more. 

“They were celebrated for their work in and out of the classrooms,” Mr. Walsh said.

The highest honor for a senior, the Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award, goes to a student with a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend themselves for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges. 

Highlighting her commitment to excellence in academics, athletics and community service, Mr. Walsh presented the award to Lily Feldman. “Her authentic leadership, exceptional academic abilities and multifaceted talents make her not only a fantastic student, but an even better person,” he said.

The winner receives a $1,000 scholarship from the PTSA, $100 to be donated to a charity of her choice and the opportunity to give a speech. 

In her remarks, Lily recalled being on a third grade field trip to a Buddhist monastery, where she received advice from a sage monk that never left her: always replace the toilet paper roll, a simple but major kindness.

“More broadly, cultivating such small practices can give way to more tangible change,” she said.

She remembered the seniors’ time in middle school when they worked on making the cafeteria more inclusive so the students that followed them would not have to sit alone at lunch. “We may not have realized our impact first-hand, but rest assured, we replaced the roll,” she said.

Lily also spoke of her involvement with Byram Hills’ new Unified athletics program, which allows students with special needs to participate in team sports. She recalled the joy on the players’ faces as the school community cheered them on at a game. 

“Every teacher, every helper and every student who cheered ‘Let’s go Bobcats’ replaced the roll that day as they made each player’s day better than before,” said Lily, who will donate the $100 to the Special Olympics.

The other top award, the PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award, is decided by a student vote and comes with a $1,000 scholarship. Assistant Principal Lauren Albert announced the winner as someone who is always smiling and is a leader who inspires others to do the right thing: Tuda Odegi.

“It is clear that this year’s winner has been a vital member of Byram Hills High School,” Ms. Albert said, noting that Tuda has been a peer leader and co-captain of the Varsity Cheerleading team.

Dozens of students were recognized at the ceremony, where they were applauded by families and the Byram Hills community.

BHHS Awards

To view the ceremony, CLICK HERE.

To view the complete list of winners, CLICK HERE.

Byram Hills High School senior Ethan Sutton won a Presidents’ Award for film from the Lower Hudson Region of the New York State Media Arts Teachers Association in May.

The honor goes to a student “whose entire body of work shows noteworthy content, a creative approach, attention to composition, a command of craft, is visually and technically outstanding, or a Video/Film that was considered “‘visually or technically outstanding.’”

A record 251 high school students from 14 Lower Hudson Region high schools submitted 475 works of art, and 32 short films. Ethan was one of seven students to win the Presidents’ Award.

In his Moviemaking & Media class taught by Michael Chuney, Ethan was assigned to create a metaphor movie with unique audio. He and his classmates were challenged to explore the uses of colors, sounds, and even character traits within a visual motif.

Ethan created “Doll,” an interpretive short film inspired by the 1971 work of women's rights activist and poet Marge Piercy. He spent about three months creating the movie and told an important story without actors.

“I feel deeply humbled and honored to earn this recognition and I am excited to continue creating work that highlights important topics,” Ethan said. “This film would not have been made possible without Mr. Chuney's constant support. I also want to congratulate the other talented artists whose work was recognized!”

Doll 1


Two Byram Hills High School seniors won National Merit $2,500 Scholarships in May.

Remi Matza and Kelsey Vaquero were among the 2,500 scholarship recipients, chosen from more than 15,000 finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

“The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has been recognizing outstanding students for more than 60 years, and we are honored to have two of our students among this year's recipients,” Guidance Chairperson Kristina Wilson said. “These scholarships are a testament to their excellence and potential for future success.”

The National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists from each state who are judged to have the strongest mix of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in a rigorous college program. 

They were appraised on their academic record, including the difficulty level of courses and their grades, scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, contributions and leadership in their school and community, an essay and a high school recommendation.

The scholarship program began in October 2021 when students took the PSAT as juniors.

Matza  Vaquero



Three Byram Hills High School Authentic Science Research Program students presented their original research at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Dallas, Texas, and won awards on May 18-19.

The students, seniors Chloe Bernstein, Samantha Milewicz and Emily Stangel, earned a spot at the international competition, known as ISEF, by winning top awards at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair in March.

At ISEF, Chloe won third place in Environmental Engineering and a $1,000 award. Her research focused on creating bacterial enzymes to digest plastic.

Samantha won second place in Translational Medical Science and a $2,000 award, and third from the National Anti-Vivisection Society and a $2,500 award for her work that supported an alternative to the use of animal testing in research. Samantha researched traumatic brain injury and the blood-brain barrier.

Emily won a $500 second-place award from the Patent and Trademark Office Society for outstanding originality, analysis, and clarity in her research. She studied genes, age-related diseases, and cancers in whales.

“It was an incredible week, and I am so proud of how our students all took advantage of the opportunities afforded to them to share science, culture and form new friendships with other student researchers and professionals from around the world,” said science research teacher Dr. Caroline Matthew, who attended the event. “I am also in awe of their successes, with each student winning at least one award recognizing the excellence of their work.”

ISEF, billed as the world’s largest global pre-college science and engineering competition, featured more than 1,600 students from 64 countries.

ISEFFrom left, Samantha Milewicz, Emily Stangel and Chloe Bernstein.

The Byram Hills Central School District’s 2023-24 budget was approved by the community on May 16 by a vote of 355 to 61.

The $99,725,037 budget reflects a budget-to-budget increase of 2.87% and a 1.93% increase in the tax levy.

The budget supports all programs and services that support student success, maintains all academic, athletic and extracurricular programs, and enables the District to continue to develop new initiatives in a fiscally responsible way that enhances the Byram Hills student experience. 

“Thank you to our voters for your support of our schools!” Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia said.

Two incumbent Board of Education members, Lori Kanner and Lara Stangel, were reelected to three-year terms. 

“Thank you to Lara Stangel, current Board of Education President, and Lori Kanner, current Board of Education Vice President, for their continued service to our school community.” Dr. Lamia said.

Board of Education vote totals:

Lara Stangel - 367
Lori Kanner - 362
Write in - 7

Byram Hills High School celebrated its six student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year.

“We are extremely proud of these outstanding athletes and their accomplishments, hard work and dedication,” said Rob Castagna, Director of Health Education, Physical Education and Athletics at Byram Hills. “We wish them the best of luck as they bring their passion and talent for their sport to the collegiate level.”

The students were honored in the high school gym on April 25 at a ceremonial signing day event attended by students, faculty and staff, and families.

“We recognize our six outstanding athletes,” said Brett Alcantara, assistant to the athletic director. “They’re going to take their athletic careers to the collegiate level, which not many high school athletes get to do. Congratulations to each and every single one of them. This is a big accomplishment and the Byram Hills community is very proud of you.”

The students are Anthony Cozza, Marymount University, lacrosse; George Gjelaj, SUNY Cortland, football; Gavin Javorsky, Colgate University, lacrosse; Colin McManus, Endicott College, lacrosse; Sean Siegel, University of Richmond, lacrosse; and Justin Wagner, Johnson & Wales, Charlotte, North Carolina, tennis.

“There’s a common thread among the six student-athletes here,” said Byram Hills teacher and coach Matt Allen, who introduced the athletes and highlighted their accomplishments. “It’s about grit and determination and the love of sport. It’s about the ability to train and to train when no one else is watching.”

The student-athletes were each recognized and answered news conference-style questions that focused on their strengths, playing experiences and what they will bring to their college teams. 

A closer look at the athletes:

Anthony Cozza, Marymount University, lacrosse, Division III: Anthony was a two-sport athlete who turned to lacrosse to specialize as a long-stick midfielder for the Bobcats. He has enjoyed lacrosse since first grade. He moved to a different position to sacrifice for the team.

George Gjelaj, SUNY Cortland, football, Division III: George made 124 tackles to lead the team, seven sacks, one defensive touchdown and one forced fumble. He was named to the All-League, All Section and All-State teams. He was also a captain, recognized as a top player in the state, two-time Section 1 defensive lineman of the year, the 2022 defensive player of the year and the fall Bobcat of the Season. He also played basketball for the Bobcats.

Gavin Javorsky, Colgate University, lacrosse, Division I: Gavin recently won the prestigious Con Edison Scholar Athlete of the Week award. Last season on the lacrosse field, he had 35 goals and 15 assists. This year, he has 13 goals and 12 assists. He has been on the varsity team for five years and made All-Section and All-League as a junior. He also played football for Byram Hills, winning many accolades.

Colin McManus, Endicott College, lacrosse, Division III: Colin is a three-sport athlete, who also played football and wrestled for the Bobcats. He was named Bobcat of the Season in the winter. On the lacrosse field, he is a captain with two goals and five assists this season.

Sean Siegel, University of Richmond, lacrosse, Division I: Sean is a three-sport athlete, who also found success playing football and basketball for Byram Hills. As a lacrosse player, he made All-League three times, was chosen as captain for two years, was part of the Lohud Elite 11, and on the watch list for All-American.

Justin Wagner, Johnson & Wales, Charlotte, North Carolina, tennis, Division III: Justin has played a pivotal role in the success of the Byram Hills boys tennis program. He is 5-0 for the Bobcats this season. A highlight of his career came recently against Scarsdale when he managed to win a 10-7 tiebreaker to secure the victory over the No. 1 ranked team in New York State. 

Athletic Seniors
Six student-athletes at Byram Hills High School are playing their sport in college next year. They were honored at a ceremonial signing event at the high school on April 25. They are, from left, Justin Wagner, Johnson & Wales, Charlotte, North Carolina, tennis; Gavin Javorsky, Colgate University, lacrosse; George Gjelaj, SUNY Cortland, football; Sean Siegel, University of Richmond, lacrosse; Colin McManus, Endicott College, lacrosse; and Anthony Cozza, Marymount University, lacrosse.


SamByram Hills High School senior Samantha Milewicz was chosen as a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, created in 1964, recognizes some of the country’s most distinguished graduating seniors. Samantha, among the 161 students selected, will receive the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion and be included in an online recognition program.

“Being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar is a further testament to Samantha’s tremendous accomplishments and hard work during her Byram Hills career,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “I have known Samantha since she was a student at H.C. Crittenden Middle School and she has always been so committed to her academics. She is such an impressive student and I am so happy that her hard work and dedication is being recognized with the Presidential Scholar award.”

Samantha’s school counselor, Gary McCarthy, said: “In my decades-long career as a school counselor, I have not encountered a student that possesses the maturity, intellectual brilliance, passion for research, and devotion to community that Sam displays. Everyone in our high school community is so proud of all that she has accomplished!"

Samantha was pleased to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

“I am honored to receive this recognition and be named among so many talented and impressive peers,” Samantha said. “I want to especially thank my teachers, guidance counselor Mr. McCarthy, and Mr. Walsh for their continuous support throughout my high school career. To me, this award is an accumulation of my hard work over the last four years, but it is also recognition of the Byram Hills faculty's dedication to the success of their students.”

At Byram Hills, Samantha is a standout student. 

A member of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, she won eighth place and a $60,000 award in the renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search for her research that could lead to innovation in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. Samantha is also a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Samantha is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, co-president of the National Art Honor Society, editor-in-chief of The Oracle student newspaper, and a member of the Principal’s Student Advisory Committee.

Last year, she won the Harvard Prize Book Award, given to outstanding juniors for excellence in scholarship and character, and the Byram Hills Award for Potential in Science.

Samantha is a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Armonk Fire Department and won the 2022 St. Vincent’s Hospital Youth Award, which honors high school students for their volunteer service. She is also a photographer.

Samantha is headed to Stanford University and plans to become a surgeon.

There are approximately 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year.

The U.S. Department of Education says the scholars “represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people.”

Byram Hills High School inducted 47 students into the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, celebrating their achievements in math and passion and determination.

“These students have worked hard to be in the seats they are in today,” math teacher Elyse Sauer said at the April 27 induction ceremony. “I’m excited to celebrate each and every one of their accomplishments.”

For membership, students need an A average in at least two levels of high school math and must perform 10 hours of community service. At least half of the hours need to be devoted to Byram Hills Mu Alpha Theta activities like puzzle day and tutoring students at the high school and H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

“It is with proud recognition of your skill and interest in mathematics that we welcome you to Mu Alpha Theta,” said senior Aliza Hammond, the chapter president. “May we someday add your name to the list of great mathematicians who have helped the world advance.”

Before inducting the members, the senior officers discussed the history of Mu Alpha Theta and  mathematics, the mathematics of the future and shared their reflections and advice.

Aliza noted the requirements for membership into Mu Alpha Theta. 

“These efforts are indicative of the notion that math is more than just formulas, calculations and numbers,” she said. “Math is about solving a variety of problems and ultimately making advancements to better our globe.”  

Aliza shared that as a middle school student, she cried before and after every math test and studied for hours in search of perfection. But her perspective changed in high school when she understood that math was necessary for solving real-world problems.

She urged inductees to go the extra mile by asking questions, talking with their teachers and researching real-world applications of the concepts they learn in class.

“Ultimately, think about math as more than formulas, calculations and numbers,” Aliza said. “Think about math as a tool set, your tool set, that might just come in handy down the road when you are faced with real-world problems where math can help. It is at that point when you will truly become a mathematician.”

Vice president Milena Chen thanked her teachers - Rebecca Barnum, Barbara O'Connell and Lisa Pellegrino - for encouraging her passion in math and teaching her the value of collaboration in math.

“I found the ability to share your findings and being open to learning from peers is key,” Milena said. “Specifically, collaborating with others encourages us to explore new concepts, experiment with new ideas and expand our problem-solving capacities, skills that are essential to success both within and outside of education environments.”

Senior Zachary Berkowitz, the chapter co-secretary, said that when he first came to high school, he found math to be uninteresting, difficult and thought it was something he would never use. His perception changed when he learned to code and taught coding to young students last summer. He saw them applying mathematical concepts to create beautiful and functional programs.

“Math is not just a chore but a tool to be creative,” he said. “It’s about perseverance and always looking for new applications. As I go on to college next year majoring in a field heavily dominated by math, I am not intimidated, but excited on how I can use it for the rest of my life.” 

Senior Tyler Lynch, the other co-secretary, discussed learning the life skill of perseverance through math and noted the real-world applications from mathematics like understanding the opioid crisis, oil spills and the 2008 mortgage crisis.

“I encourage all of you to embrace math and its many challenges,” he said. “It may not be the easiest subject but it is one of the most important ones. Math teaches us skills we will use for the rest of our lives and helps us to really understand the world around us in a unique way.”

The new members of the Byram Hills chapter of Mu Alpha Theta are: Jared Aberman, Regina Bisgaier, Charlotte Brodbeck, Jack Canter, Lucas Canter, John Cavada, John Chicoine, Nicolette DiSano, Summer Feng, Ariana Foreman, Laurel Fox, Shruthi Franklin, Arianna Garcia, Rebecca Geller, Emily Goldman, Gabriel Goldman, Casey Goldstein, Thomas James Guido, Morgan Hecht, Owen Jacobs, Gavin Jakubek, Charlotte Karp, Chloe Kohl, Owen Lee, Aaron Lepofsky, Andrew Levy, Benjamin Levy, Maya Licznerski, Cooper Lipton, Demetra Loumbas, Julia Mahairas, Sarina Metsch, Ryan Nichols, Sarah Park, Jessica Pedersen, Margaret Pollack, Charlie Rosee, Benjamin Rothenberg, Aidan Schissler, Emily Stangel, Aaron Stein, Avery Talbot, Gabriella Vella, Gavin Webster, Jordyn Wolf, Emmett Wolland and Alexander Woodworth.

Each student was recognized and received a blue and gold Mu Alpha Theta tassel.

Mu Alpha Theta, founded in 1957, is the national high school and two-year college mathematics honor society. The Byram Hills chapter is among about 1,800 across the United States and abroad.

Mu Alpha Theta Inductees


Byram Hills High School inducted 20 sophomores, juniors and seniors into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, recognizing their musicianship, scholarship, character, leadership and service.

The honor society is a program of the National Association for Music Education, and the organization’s high standards are a reminder of the inductees’ passion, work ethic and achievement in the performing arts, Aaron Lockwood, the Byram Hills Orchestra Director and Tri-M adviser, said at the April 26 induction ceremony.

The students are “models of excellence” who masterfully balance their academics, music and service activities, he said.

“The students we will be celebrating tonight are caring, dedicated, hardworking people,” Mr. Lockwood said. “They are leaders in our school and continually share their musical talents with the school and community.”

To be inducted, students must be a member of a musical ensemble for two years and have an A in their music ensemble classes and a B+ overall academic average. Tri-M members attend meetings and participate in community service events.

“The 20 students being honored tonight have displayed leadership in their school ensembles, showing a high degree of loyalty, cooperation, leadership, passion and service in our schools and in our communities,” Mr. Lockwood said. “Many have participated in honors ensembles both at the county and state levels. They understand the importance of creating community in their ensembles in school, sharing their love of music with the District and community, and going above and beyond what is asked of them each and every day.”

The inductee are: Madeleine Aldous, Samara Brown, Laila Byles, John Cavada, Wyatt Charron, Lauren Chase, Jason Fakler, Nicole Feng, Emma Goldenberg, Morgan Hecht, Indiana Ingberman, Adin Kersh, Aidan Lebowitz, Aaron Lestz, Matthew Macko, Valentina Marino, Evan McCauley, Isabella Rivalsi, Eric Ferreira Szilagyi and Adrianna Zawojek.

The honorary inductee was Byram Hills chemistry teacher Evan Horowitz, who was celebrated for his love and support of music and the performing arts. 

“Any student that makes their way down to my classroom knows the profound respect I have for the musical arts,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I’m fully cognizant of the power that music has in a person’s life.”

“To all the students being inducted today and all the future inductees, I applaud both your talent and your dedication,” he added. “It truly is an honor to share a stage with you.”

To view the ceremony, CLICK HERE.

Tri-M Inductees

Samantha SchaevitzAs a winner of the 2023 Neuroscience Research Prize, Byram Hills High School senior Samantha Schaevitz presented her research on a promising brain cancer treatment at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting and was honored at a ceremony with a plaque.

Samantha, a part of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, also won a $1,000 prize for her research into a potential new method for a more effective treatment for the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

She presented her work at a poster session, with many conference attendees asking insightful questions. 

“It was rewarding to be surrounded by such a large group of esteemed doctors and medical students who were so supportive of the work that I’m doing and this accomplishment,” said Samantha, who presented her work on April 23 in Boston. “Being at this conference gave me insight into what the world of medicine is really like and made me excited for my future.”

Samantha was inspired to research brain cancer treatments by her young cousin, Ava, who died of an aggressive brain tumor called a glioblastoma.Samantha Schaevitz

For her work, Samantha studied the use of focused ultrasound with microbubbles as a method for improving brain cancer treatment by allowing therapeutic drugs to more easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, a protective layer for the brain.

Working in mice, she found that increasing ultrasonic pressure with the microbubbles demonstrated a noticeable increase in drug penetration deep into the cancerous tumor. Her work could transform cancer treatment by using lower doses of cancer drugs, which would bring fewer harmful side effects.

“Presenting at the meeting is a tremendous honor and we are so proud of Samantha for all of her accomplishments and for representing Byram Hills so well,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program. 

The neuroscience prize, from the American Academy of Neurology, was announced in January. The award is designed to reward students whose scientific skill shows a potential for scientific contributions in neuroscience.

Earlier this year, Samantha was recognized in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, chosen as one of 300 scholars from nearly 2,000 students. Samantha plans to continue her research at the University of Michigan and hopes to become a neuro-oncologist.

Samantha MilewiczSamantha Milewicz, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has been chosen as a semifinalist in the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Samantha is one of 628 semifinalists selected from more than 5,000 candidates. The program was created in 1964 to honor some of the most distinguished seniors in the nation.

“Congratulations to Samantha on this terrific honor,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “The Byram Hills community is incredibly proud of her achievements and dedication to academic excellence.” 

Earlier this year, Samatha, a member of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, won eighth place and a $60,000 award in the renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search for her research that could lead to innovation in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. She is a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

At Byram Hills, Samantha is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, co-president of the National Art Honor Society, editor-in-chief of The Oracle student newspaper, and a member of the Principal’s Student Advisory Committee. Last year, she won the Harvard Prize Book Award, given to outstanding juniors for excellence in scholarship and character, and the Byram Hills Award for Potential in Science.

She is a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Armonk Fire Department and a photographer.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for my accomplishments in and out of the classroom,” Samantha said. “I am thankful to all of the people who have supported me throughout my high school career and have shaped me into the passionate student and thinker that I am.” 

Samantha will attend Stanford University and plans to become a surgeon.

Each year, up to 161 students are named Presidential Scholars, one of the highest honors for high school students across the nation. The Commission on Presidential Scholars will choose the scholars, who will be announced in May by U.S. Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona. The scholars are honored during the National Recognition Program and awarded the Presidential Scholars medallion each June.

Students from around the Byram Hills Central School District came together to celebrate their love of music at the All-District Music Festivals, which were bursting with inspiration, community and beautiful music.

With eighth graders from H.C. Crittenden Middle School and fifth graders from Wampus Elementary School working with high school students and the music faculty at Byram Hills High School, the festivals were an enriching experience for everyone involved.

They gave the younger students a chance to see the kind of musical experiences that await them and provided high schoolers with an opportunity to reflect on how far they’ve come.

“The All-District Music Festivals were wonderful celebrations of musical achievement across grade levels and musical ensembles,” said Pete Pauliks, the Director of Fine Arts. “These powerful days of music-making and community-building were an amazing way for our students to come together to share their passion for music.”

Students got to know each other through team-building activities, attended workshops and rehearsals and gave terrific final performances together.

DI String FestivalDistrict String Festival

The District String Festival was held on Feb. 3. It featured performances by the fifth grade orchestra, the eighth grade orchestra and the high school orchestra, a question-and-answer session, rehearsals and a final performance of “First Scale March” and “Dragonhunter.”

“It was really powerful to see all of the students working together,” said Aaron Lockwood, the high school orchestra director. “High schoolers were paired with fifth graders and eighth graders were paired with fifth graders, so there was a mix at each stand. It was incredible to see.”DI String Festival

Ken Pearson, the Wampus orchestra teacher, said: “It went fabulously well. The sound was magnificent. It was such a joy.” 

The HCC orchestra teacher, Adelle St. Onge, said the event was inspirational.

“At the middle school level, not only are they being inspired by the high school, but they can also see how they inspire students younger than them and see how far they’ve come and how far they can continue to go,” she said.

Eighth grader Asiya Nur Karim enjoyed the festival. “It was really nice to see the high schoolers play because then I get to see where I’m going to go next.”

DI Chorus FestivalDistrict Choral Festival

The daylong District Choral Festival took place on Feb. 13. The students began by getting to know each other and singing popular songs by artists they love.

“It was a really awesome day,” said Kyle Banks, the high school choir director. “We did a really big, full group warmup and there’s nothing like the sound of 200-plus kids singing at the same time.” 

The students performed for each other and attended workshops and rehearsals that were grouped by section. In the afternoon, they came together for a full rehearsal and moving performance of “Sisi Ni Moja.”

“Conducting this piece was really, really awesome, seeing all three levels,” said Kate Smith, HCC’s choral director. “Seeing my students, especially, knowing that they’re learning about what they can do when they are at the high school level was really fun too.”

Dana Celestino, the Wampus chorus teacher, said a highlight was the students coming together to make music.

“Music is something that connects everybody,” she said. “It’s so powerful to hear all 200-plus of the students singing and working together to make this one product. It was really special and really powerful. That’s part of the spirit of being in a musical ensemble and of being in Byram Hills because that’s what we value - collaboration, community, working together and having a really fun day.”  DI Chorus Festival

The students from all three schools took a break from singing and sat on the stage, where many passed the microphone and shared what being in chorus meant to them. They talked about making good friends and finding community, having fun and experiencing joy, feeling supported and singing and learning new techniques and skills.

“It’s a place where I can be myself and be with the people who have the same passion as me and who enjoy the same things as me,” one student said. “What I love about chorus is that I have some of my best friends in this class. It just has been a place where I can enjoy myself and be happy and not have the stress of all my other classes.”

DI Band FestivalDistrict Band Festival

In March, members of the fifth grade band and eighth grade band made separate trips to the high school for a District Band Festival. Both groups of players had the chance to meet the high school musicians, rehearse with them and perform.

Byram Hills High School band director Andrew Hill said it was great for the younger students to see what band at the high school is like, and for the high schoolers to gain inspiration by reflecting on their time in the earlier grades and thinking about how much they’ve learned. 

“It really is a great experience and learning process for every student involved at the high school, the fifth grade and the eighth grade,” Mr. Hill said.

HCC band director William Petito said the eighth grade festival on March 9 was a wonderful day. “It was really amazing to see the middle schoolers try on a bigger pair of shoes, so to speak,” he said.DI Band Festival

Wampus band director David Wolfe said his students, who visited the high school on March 20, were excited to attend and see what kind of playing is possible in high school. “When you play on a high school stage, it’s almost like being in the big leagues,” he said. Mr. Wolfe also the high schoolers took the fifth graders under their wing. “There was a connection I felt between the high schoolers and my kids, and I appreciated that.”

The fifth and eighth graders enjoyed seeing what playing in the high school band will be like and can sound like.

Fifth grader Sidney Van Anden said he liked playing with and getting to know the high school musicians. “I really enjoyed playing with everybody and I hope I play until high school and stick with it.”

Thank You BHEF

The District is grateful to the Byram Hills Educational Foundation for sponsoring the festivals. The BHEF support allowed for the purchase of new recording equipment for each school and provided each student with a music festival T-shirt and a shared community lunch.

CLICK HERE to view all performances and showcases.

AP Art ShowGraffiti and urban decay. Women’s body positivity and confidence. The reinterpretation of street signs. The juxtaposition of childhood and adolescence. The interaction between humanity and nature. 

These were among the many themes that AP art students at Byram Hills High School explored as part of their inquiry-based sustained investigation that guided their art-making this year. Their imaginative work was on display at the annual AP Art Show on April 19 and 20. Students, families and faculty enjoyed an evening reception in the gallery-like space on April 19.

Among the questions that students examined in their art investigation: How can reality be changed into fantasy? How does focusing on movement tell a story? How to depict Portuguese culture through personal experience? How can the symbol of boots show an evolution of liberation in one’s environment?

The show featured the work of talented students in AP Studio Art, AP Photography, AP Graphic Design and AP 3D Design. On display was a rich mix of striking photographs, prints, colorful paintings, sculptures, ceramics, mixed-media pieces and graphic designs.

“This show represents the gamut of ideas and approaches and a lot of diverse visual thinking and attention to craft,” art teacher Amy Menasche said. “These are the most committed artists in the District.”

“Some work is remarkable in its delicacy, other work is serene or bold or edgy,” she added. “We can see the students' personalities and voices through the lens of their work.”

The show was installed by students, who each had a large panel or area to display a collection of their work.

Senior Sarah Thielmann, an AP 3D Design student, created a trio of ceramic, bikini-clad torsos for her investigation into body positivity. One shows stretch marks, another has body hair and the third features the skin condition vitiligo.

“I wanted to make a point that regardless of how you look, everyone’s allowed to feel proud of their bodies even if they have things that are deemed unattractive by society,” she said. “I felt like with each person who saw my pieces, I was making a difference and just hopefully helping some people to either feel better about themselves or think about how those things may affect other people and beAP Art Show mindful of what some other people may be insecure about.”

Junior Finnley Silverstein, who has been dancing most of her life, focused her AP Photo portfolio on portraying emotion through dance.

“Dance is a big part of my life so this represents the different aspects of it,” she said, adding that her photographs show the joy, happiness and stress of dance.

Byram Hills students and faculty visited the show during the school day and art teachers brought their students for inspiration.

Sophomore Jaden Pinsky, who takes photography, was impressed by the art.

“It’s incredibly detailed and you can tell how much work that everyone put in in their own way, all the different compositions, colors and styles,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see everyone’s different approach to art.”  

Freshman Henri Nilsson, who attended with his Studio Art class, said he liked the perspective in the photographs, the creativity of the graphic design pieces and how the drawings were focused on a theme. “I really like it,” he said. “It’s very creative.” 

Art teacher Jayne Karlin said students build a lifelong appreciation of art through the AP courses.

“They’re amazingly talented and motivated and we’re really proud of what they’ve produced,” she said. “I see students really expressing themselves in ways they wouldn’t be able to if they weren’t part of our art program.”

AP Art Show

Byram Hills High School celebrated the induction of 15 student artists into the National Art Honor Society, recognizing them for their commitment to their visual arts courses and community service in the arts.

Director of Fine Arts Pete Pauliks opened the March 29 ceremony and congratulated the inductees. He noted Byram Hills’ long commitment to the arts and the many artistic paths available for high school students. They can study sculpture and ceramics, drawing and painting, graphic design, photography, media arts, and metalsmithing.

“I’m humbled by the creativity and determination demonstrated by our students each and every day and I’m beyond proud of the entire visual arts faculty for their inspiring artistry and their dedication to our students,” Mr. Pauliks said. 

The National Art Honor Society was created by the National Art Education Association in 1978. The Byram Hills chapter began in 2018 to provide students with opportunities to broaden their knowledge of the arts and use their talents to serve their community.

To be a member, Byram Hills students must maintain an A average in their arts courses and a B cumulative grade point average in all other subjects. Students need to have completed Studio Art and at least two art electives to be considered for membership, making students eligible in 10th grade. 

Students in the honor society contribute to visual arts-related community service projects and participate in the chapter’s meetings, activities and fundraisers.

The four officers in the honor society, co-presidents Alaska Fairbanks and Samantha Milewicz, vice president Abby Eickelbeck and secretary/treasurer Piper Siegel, discussed their individual art journeys and their experience with NAHS.

“Participating in the art program at Byram Hills has allowed me to experiment with my art, try new mediums and ultimately grow as an artist,” Alaska said. “I’ve loved connecting with others in school and the local community and organizing and participating in NAHS’ activities.” 

Abby said: “Being a part of this honor society is truly a rewarding experience as not only do we get to give back to the community through art, but we also get to explore our personal interests in different mediums through various projects.”

During the ceremony, Abby and Piper highlighted the projects and activities that students have been involved in this year:

  • The work of many students was included in a student booth at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show, a highly ranked, juried fine art and design show in the early fall.


  • In October, students painted pumpkins inspired by the work of famous artists including Tim Burton and Keith Haring and sold them as a fundraiser. The decorative pumpkins could be found throughout the school before Halloween.


  • Students made clay bowls to support the Empty Bowls movement by artists to raise money for charities to help the hungry. In November, the bowls were donated to an  Empty Bowls event sponsored by the Hillside Food Outreach, a nonprofit that provides meals to people in Westchester County and nearby areas.


  • Eight students submitted work to the NAHS juried exhibition to be judged by artists at the national organization. Out of 2,410 entries, 120 pieces were chosen as winners, including “Wheel of Fortune” by senior and NAHS co-president Alaska Fairbanks.


  • A new project this year involved the creation of bookmarks inspired by famous children’s books. The colorful bookmarks will be available to Coman Hill Elementary School students when they check out books in the library.


  • For Valentine’s Day, students designed cards and created a way for them to be sent electronically with a personalized message. They received 176 responses.
  • To help usher in spring, students painted stones with messages of kindness like “Dream Big” and “Bee Happy” and placed them throughout school to brighten students’ day.

Each inductee was called to receive a membership certificate from the honor society advisers, teachers Jayne Karlin and Amy Menasche, while a slide of their artwork was displayed on a large screen on the stage. NAHS members who were previously inducted were also individually recognized for their continued contributions to the NAHS.

The students inducted this year are:

Hudson Dean
Katherine Dyer
Sabrina Feng
Marlee Fisher
Jessica Freiberg
Zoe Marcus
Kayleigh McLaughlin
Gabriella Merli
Leila Miles
Maya Molloy
Eve Nepo
Gregory Parent
Sarah Park
Elsa Rolfs
Alexa Shuster

Previously inducted students who were recognized:

Abby Eickelbeck - vice president
Alaska Fairbanks - co-president
Piper Siegel - secretary/treasurer
Samantha Milewicz - co-president
Samantha Abraham
Elizabeth Albright
Ayaka Ammon
Gemma Dean
Lily Hirsch
Eerika Karttunen
Casey Maryyanek
Jonathan Parent
Lila Raff
Avery Talbot
Olivia Zodda


To view the National Art Honors Induction Ceremony, click here.

NAHS 2023