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Tiger Tracks Special edition: 2018 "Senior standouts"

CONGRATULATIONS, MAMARONECK HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2018!!

In this special edition of Tiger Tracks, we give you a glimpse into our graduating class by featuring a small sampling of the 363 students who graduated on June 20, 2018 from Mamaroneck High School. You may recall that this is a tradition. From year to year, we feature ten students -- including our valedictorian and salutatorian -- who are selected to represent a range of diverse experiences, challenges, and accomplishments at the high school. From the many academic successes to the performing arts and musical accomplishments, to athletic achievements, this year's Class of 2018 will surely be missed...We hope you enjoy reading about each of the students highlighted here and ask that you join us in saluting the entire Mamaroneck High School Class of 2018!

Rebecca Mancuso

Rebecca Mancuso, Valedictorian

Mamaroneck High School’s Valedictorian, Rebecca Mancuso, has been playing the viola since she was eight. During her high school years, she played in the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Musical “Pit” Orchestra and also played in an adult community orchestra called the St. Thomas Orchestra -- a Mamaroneck-based group of professional and amateur players from all over Westchester -- as well as the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestra Association. It comes as no surprise that she will be studying Music Education (with a viola concentration) when she attends the Honors Program at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in the fall, after she spends this summer teaching private music lessons.

Though music is her passion, Rebecca excels at every subject. Among her favorite classes at MHS were AP US History, AP European History, AP Physics 1 and Physics C, Chinese and PACE. Rebecca says she formed personal connections with most all of her teachers, but there are a couple teachers in particular who left lasting impressions and shaped her perspective on her own future as an educator. “Dr. Nunes made AP Physics so much fun. He’s a fantastic teacher who cares very much for his students. He is also very knowledgeable not only about the subject but about just life in general,” Rebecca said. “My Chinese teacher Michelle Liu cares about her students more than almost any other teacher I know; she not only wants her students to do well, but also cares about their lives, qualities I wish to have when I’m a teacher as well.” Rebecca said she enjoyed the stories that Liu Laoshi would tell about her life growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China, a time when teachers and education were not valued.

Beyond music and academics, Rebecca was a part of PACE (Performing Arts Curriculum Experience); was a member of the Chinese club for four years, and was co-president of the Quiz Bowl club, which became one of the highlights of her senior year. She also was involved in Girl Scouting since the age of five and ran a multitude of events with her troop.

In recent weeks, as her time at MHS began winding down, Rebecca said she realized how much she will truly miss the high school. “There was a lot of stress and a few tears here and there, but overall looking back on these four years, I just see things that make me smile and people that I’m going to miss seeing everyday.”

David Hilden

David Hilden, Salutatorian

As long as he knew the class material and did the best he could, he was happy with that. Salutatorian David Hilden has this advice for incoming freshmen: “Don’t take any one test to heart. Don’t get lost in the pressure for grades.”

Aside from the academics, David’s favorite thing about Mamaroneck High School was the people he met and the friends he made. With so many opportunities to try new things or participate in new clubs, he said expanding his group of friends each year was inevitable.

David participated in Model Congress, a lunchtime club that met weekly to debate different bills. He said he did not participate in the Model Congress trips or feel pressure to deepen his involvement with the club; instead, he just enjoyed being there each week to listen and ask any questions.

As a Caprice Advisor this year, David enjoyed speaking with freshmen about his high school years, emphasizing to them that no two people have the same experience. He was a member of several student clubs, including the Quiz Bowl, the Puzzle Club and a club that he started, the Crossword Club. He said traveling with fellow students and his Chinese teacher Ms. Liu to Shanghai as part of the high school’s exchange program was “life-changing”. It was the first time that he had experienced another culture that is so different from America, and he was pleasantly surprised with the ease of his visit with his host family. “I will always remember so much about the trip and will look back on the 5,000 pictures I have,” he said.

In the fall, David will attend Johns Hopkins University, where he plans to pursue a Biology/Pre-Med track. He has been interested in medicine since middle school, and at this point in time is considering ER medicine and surgery because he said he likes “to be moving and work under pressure.” Through the Original Science Research (OSR) program at MHS, David worked for two summers in a breast cancer lab at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

For his senior internship this spring, David worked for Habitat for Humanity, along with about 30 other MHS students. The MHS student team rotated working at different sites all over Westchester, but much of David’s work revolved around the installation of a new roof for a townhouse in Yonkers. “It was great. I learned valuable carpentry skills,” he said.

With the growth David has experienced over four years, he said he is now ready to go out into the world. Before heading off to college, he is immersing himself with work this summer at Longford’s Ice Cream in Larchmont. “I’m scooping ice cream and building up my forearm,” he quipped.

Marina Alexa Tosi

Marina Alexa Tosi

Marina Tosi’s guidance counselor describes her as kind, humble, respectful, honest, and selfless. “She is intellectually thirsty and always seeking to be stimulated,” Mrs. Genwright says. “She is a go-getter who is not content to sit back waiting for things to happen. She is one who will make things happen wherever she goes.”

Marina has a love for science, among a host of other interests. Her four years participating in the OSR program enabled her to do research at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, see patients with her mentors, compete at local and regional competitions, be named a scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, present her work at two major medical conferences, and publish her study as the first author. “Though OSR has been a tremendous amount of work, it has been my favorite class in high school and has prepared me for my research pursuits in the future,” Marina said.

For the past nine years, Marina has figure skated competitively. She earned the title of U.S. Figure Skating Gold Medalist and has taken up coaching at the Hommocks ice rink. She was able to combine her interests in science and skating by studying the Female Athlete Triad and eating disorders for her OSR project. She was inspired to study this topic because she saw a large prevalence of eating disorders and the Triad in the figure skating community.

In addition to OSR and figure skating, Marina participated in many other activities at the high school. She was the student leader of the Transfer Orientation Program, overseeing approximately 30 “TOP Ambassadors” who gave tours to new transfer students and helped them get acclimated to the high school. Marina also served in other leadership roles that are critical to the overall functioning at MHS. She was selected by the principal to serve on the Promoting Student Health Committee, comprised of three students, two parents, faculty, and administrators. Her focus on this committee was to bring mindfulness into the classroom and look for ways to help students reduce stress at school.

Marina said the most valuable advice she has ever received is to do what you love. “Doing what you love makes putting in the work necessary to succeed much easier and actually fun,” she says. “This principle applies to my research, skating, and involvement in clubs. Another thing I’ve learned along the way is to not be shy and always ask for help when you need it.”

Marina said she is incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to attend MHS: “All four years have been filled with challenging classes, amazing teachers, and great friends.” Marina will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall and plans to study biological engineering or neuroscience.

Giezi (Jesse) Lopez

Giezi (Jesse) Lopez

According to Jesse Lopez, there was one bright spot to breaking his finger in elementary school. “It determined my career path,” he recalls. “Ever since I broke my finger and had to go to the doctor, I’ve wanted to eventually be a doctor myself. The orthopedist explained everything so well. I became so interested in bones - the names of each one and how they work.”

When an internship position opened up this past spring in the Orthopedic unit at Montefiore, Jesse believed it was destined to be. For his senior internship, he assisted patients as they came out of surgery and loved it so much that he didn’t want his days there to end. He wanted to stay longer. He plans to be on the pre-med track when he attends University of Rochester this fall.

“Giezi is humble and kind in the way that we should all strive to be,” said Jesse’s guidance counselor Greg Cuddy. “The University Rochester is getting an outstanding student in Giezi, but an even better person.”

Jesse has been playing an instrument since the 5th grade. “I started at an older age than most kids I knew, but was able to get private music lessons at the Larchmont Music Academy, thanks to a scholarship that my MAS music teacher helped me get,” he said. “After taking violin for several years, I then asked if I could play piano too, and they said yes.” Jesse participated in both the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra at MHS and says he found it relaxing and challenging at the same time, but with no stress.

For two summers, Jesse served as a counselor at Co-Op Camp. He also has spent time working at a golf club over the summer.

Jesse pinpoints the main thing he believes that sets Mamaroneck High School apart from others: ‘The trust factor,’ he said ‘Trust in students.’ Jesse explained that in many ways the staff treats students like adults, giving them freedom to come and go during the day depending on free periods and enabling students to become more independent. “I think MHS prepares us well for college,” he said.

Each year, Jesse said he had at least one favorite teacher, and the teachers always made him feel at ease going to them. “It’s surreal that I’m graduating. I’m going to miss this place,” he said.

Angelique Kravath

Angelique Kravath

Angelique Krvath is grateful for the support she received throughout high school. From Principal Clain on down to her academic teachers and through her elective, she credits Mamaroneck High School for getting her where she is today. “I really do feel lucky to have attended such a fine establishment. Mamaroneck High School is one of the best schools in the nation, and I am fortunate to have received such an amazing education,” said Angelique, whose family moved from New Rochelle to Mamaroneck when she was in 2nd grade.

Angelique was part of the Jumpstart program all four years at MHS. The program, which she began two weeks before the first day of freshman year, helped ease her into high school life. She had the option to continue being a part of the program during the school year with the same teachers and community formed over the summer, and Angelique took advantage of this as a support system. Once she become a junior and started taking honors and AP classes (such as French honors, English 11 honors, College Composition, and AP Biology), she moved up to Scholars Jumpstart, where she had even more one-on- one guidance and was able to work with like-minded peers.

Having some consistency over the years with teachers was helpful to Angelique. For two years, Angelique had Mrs. Shannon Turner-Porter as her social studies teacher and enjoyed Mrs. Porter’s “sass, but also her care for everyone.” Madame Bridges was her French teacher for all four years. “Her energy always brightened my day,” she said. “She is definitely someone I trust.”

Angelique loved her multi-year experience in PACE, which she says helped boost her confidence and improve her life skills. “These are things I will hold onto in the future,” she said. “PACE is amazing because you really feel like you are part of a community. I don’t know where I would be without my PACE teachers Mr. Moore, Mrs. Parsley, and Mr. Derby.”

Angelique will study to become a veterinarian when she attends SUNY Albany in the fall. She will continue to pursue her love of acting by minoring in theater.

Brando Perez

Brando Perez

“I learned so much about the French culture and the language itself. I would have never thought that my love for the French language would grow this much,” said Brando Perez.

“After my four years at MHS, I will always remember rushing to French class eager to learn more, but most importantly I will remember the unbelievable teachers I had.”

When Brando reflects back on his years at MHS, it is the teachers who stand out. From Mr. Alonge for Algebra II, and Mr. Seck for Chemistry, to Madame Bridges for French, and Ms. Albert -- who helped him get through AP Macroeconomics -- Brando says his teachers were always there for him.

“I met this teacher my sophomore year and she completely changed my view on life. Madame Olsson is the type of teacher whose door is always open for anyone who needs help. Whether I was in there for help for a French test or just to talk about life, Madame Olsson welcomed me with open arms and accepted my crazy character,” said Brando, who had Ms. Olsson as his French teacher both sophomore and junior years.

Brando has played the violin since 3rd grade and was an active participant in the music program at MHS. He says Orchestra class was a time to learn new pieces and prepare for concerts, but it also served as a mindfulness experience. “During the school day, it was one hour where I would take a break from the stressful day to just listen to the music around me. Orchestra was an amazing experience for me, and I will definitely continue to keep the violin close to me in college,” he said.

Of all the activities Brando was involved with at MHS, his work on the Yearbook is probably most near and dear to his heart. He was a photographer for Yearbook his junior year, and then applied for a Senior Editor position for senior year. “I never expected to get the position because it was a big jump for me, so I was surprised when I got it. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it. It was a learning experience I’ll never forget,” Brando said. “Creating templates and designing pages was so different than anything I have ever done before. I met so many great people. I hope I can find something similar to be involved with in college.”

Being a part of the Midnight Run Club also had a big impact on Brando, who joined the club his junior year to collect and distribute clothes to the homeless in NYC. “I honestly regret not signing up earlier. I loved being part of this club because of what you are doing for others, but also because it teaches you to appreciate what you have. The memories of seeing the way people live on the streets during the freezing winters and seeing their faces light up when you offer them a jacket to keep warm will stay with me forever.”

The college application process was stressful for Brando, but he is thankful for his guidance counselor Greg Cuddy’s constant positive, calm reassurance. “We just have to keep waiting,” Mr. Cuddy would say.

Brando will head to Boston in the fall to attend Emerson College, where he will major in Business of Creative Enterprises (a new major there), combining his love of music with business.

Chloe Weiser

Chloe Weiser

Chloe Weiser’s high school career was about as full as it could get, and as her guidance counselor Rob Schwartz said, “she stretched herself to maximum capacity.” According to Mr. Schwartz, rarely has he had a kid that he respects more than Chloe. “Chloe is genuine, has incredible integrity and is committed and responsible in every endeavor,” he says.

Diagnosed with a hearing impairment at age four, Chloe had her challenges throughout her school years. But when she got to the high school, she felt that the MHS community was like no other. “The teachers and people are all there to support one another,” she said. Her confidence grew tremendously in a few short years, and she began to take on leadership roles in numerous organizations.

Chloe loved every minute of her involvement on MHS’s Student Council, from planning the Club Fair to organizing faculty appreciation week. She was instrumental in planning the faculty/student dodge ball game, hot chocolate party and the junior and senior proms.

The organization that had the biggest impact on her MHS experience was FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), where her participation spanned far beyond the walls of the high school. She ran (and won) for a State officer position and was part of the 13- person State officer team her senior year. “I learned the right time to be a leader and when it’s best to take a step back and be a team player,” she said.

Music and ice skating have been a big part of Chloe’s life for as long as she can remember. Over the course of her four high school years, Chloe played the flute in multiple ensembles and flute choirs. She skated at the Hommocks ice rink four days a week and worked Sundays teaching group and private lessons. Through the Larchmont Music Academy, Chloe performed a total of nine times at Carnegie Hall!

Chloe has an affection for math and science and plans to major in Neuroscience on the pre-med track when she attends Duke University in the fall. Her love of science began in chemistry sophomore year and continued with the OSR project she did on cochlear implants, devices that allow deaf people to hear. “Working on this new and exciting research project was like nothing I have ever done before because I was helping people who were going through similar situations as me in a very real way.” said Chloe, who worked alongside a mentor in a lab at Columbia University Medical Center for two summers. “Beyond my project and time in the lab were the OSR competitions. I made lifelong friends from all over Westchester through these competitions, and also had some amazing experiences. At one international competition I got to meet people from 73 countries.”

Chloe said OSR taught her there are other ways to leave a positive impact on the world in addition to community service, which she had been involved with in many ways during her younger years. She just completed her senior internship, where she shadowed an ear, nose, and throat doctor at Columbia in the city. She got to see patients with the physician and watch a surgery up close.

Chloe lists AP Macroeconomics, Chinese, Original Science Research, and AP English Language as some of the most outstanding courses she took at the high school. “Ms. Groninger always knew just the right amount of praise and critique to give my writing which truly allowed me to grow as a writer,” she said. “ Ms. Albert, through her constant hard work and determination, taught me that anything is possible.”

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen

“If you show you want to do well, the whole community will help you.” said Josh Cohen, who participated in the TASK program at MHS. “Teachers are more than willing to help you out and spend extra time with you. The high school and the broader community are so great about giving you all the tools to succeed.”

Josh is a self-proclaimed math and English guy. During his four years at MHS, he particularly loved his BC Calculus class, English Honors and College Creative Writing. Though challenged by his dyslexia (which he would talk about with younger students as part of the Building Bridges program), Josh said these rigorous classes were “interesting and challenging, but not too bad.” Josh enjoys the creative process of writing and the entertainment value it provides. In his spare time, he writes poetry. He said, “I don’t like to write about what everyone else is writing about. I always have a weird twist or turn on things.” Josh is grateful for his English teacher Ms. Elmonzino, who helped him grow as a writer.

According to Josh, the single most important thing he learned during his high school years was to be comfortable with being an introvert. “When you understand who you are it becomes easier. I have accepted that I am an introvert so I do things that are more comfortable to me rather than pushing myself to be somebody who I am not,” he said.

During all four years of high school, Josh was a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Club and treasurer his junior and senior years. Josh is an avid chess player and teaches the game to younger students. “My grandfather taught me how to play,” he said. “I love the strategic aspect of chess, the thought process in trying to find the best move and think three or four moves ahead. It involves so much critical thinking.”

Josh interned this spring at Murray Ave. School. In addition to shelving books, reading to students, and helping them with projects, Josh organized a chess tournament. “I have always been a big reader. It was great to be surrounded by books,” he said.

When Josh attends Manhattan College in the fall, he will be majoring in math and going for a five-year Masters degree in Data Science. He has always been fond of studying statistics.

Josh’s guidance counselor Rob Adams said this about Josh: “Josh has emerged into a well-rounded, personable young man. He has probably demonstrated more individual growth than any other student on my caseload. Josh is a unique mind.”

Paula Torres

Paula Torres

Balancing both a job and her work in school was often a challenge, but Paula Torres believes she got the hang of it after her freshman year. “I am now prepared for the future,” she said.

Born in Colombia, Paula arrived here to the U.S. at the age of six. She spoke no English at that time, and to this day, still serves as the translator for her mom. She is fluent in Spanish and English and has excelled in learning French as a third language.

“I truly believe that Mamaroneck High School is the most inclusive, welcoming and better-intended school in the area,” Paula said. ”Teachers care about you and want you to succeed. They’ll challenge you to do the very best you can.”

One teacher who Paula said provided her with support yet a motivating push was Evan Madin, who challenged her to keep growing and improving as a learner. “He taught me that although at times I may think I know everything, I can always learn from my peers and I can always improve. He taught me the importance of going out of my comfort zone and going after my dreams rather than just waiting for things to come to me,” she said.

Throughout her high school years, Paula regularly volunteered at the local Community Resource Center (CRC) as a translator. The CRC hosted two legal Advice Clinics for Undocumented Immigrants, both of which she interpreted for. At these workshops, she aided clients in gaining a better understanding of the ways in which they could be prepared if they found themselves being detained or deported. Last summer, she worked with one of the volunteer lawyers on a pro bono case, assisting with an undocumented youth on the verge of deportation. She has enjoyed her work with the CRC because she is able to relate to their plight. Paula also has done a lot of work with the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute procuring funding through grant proposals, co-hosting workshops and fundraisers, and attending a conference in Seattle. These experiences outside of school have helped shape Paula into the outgoing young woman that she is today.

Although she never took a photography class, Paula developed an interest in taking photos on the side. Her interest continued to grow over time, and she saved her money to buy a camera. As people began to see her photos on social media, they liked what they saw. Before she knew it, she was being hired to do photo shoots of people. Her most recent photography jobs have included photographing concerts (that she enjoys attending) for a friend who runs an entertainment magazine.

For three of her four years at MHS, Paula participated in the Architecture elective program. “While I don’t plan to go into that field, I was able to connect with different students that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I learned the principles of designing a house and gained knowledge that will benefit me in the future,” she said. “In my last year at MHS, I took part in the Her Honor Mentoring program, where I was paired with Janet Rolon, one of the caseworkers of the Community Resource Center. She served not only as my teacher and mentor but as a support system for me through the difficult college process.”

During her high school years, Paula learned the importance of taking advantage of the resources that one has available to them. “I realized that not every kid in the US has the same opportunities to flourish,” she said. “I never hesitated to reach out to teachers when I didn’t understand something of if I wanted to raise a concern.”

Just recently, Paula completed her senior internship at Penguin Random House in the city. She worked in the Vintage Espanol division, and she said she learned a ton. She was able to meet some “cool authors”, practice her Spanish and translate documents.

Paula’s favorite classes at MHS included Journalism with Mr. Madin, AP United States Government and Politics with Mr. Liberti, and United States History with Mr. Paez. This fall, Paula will head to Denison University, where she plans to major in International Studies.

Gabriel de Naurois (Gabe)

Gabriel de Naurois (Gabe)

Gabe de Naurois's love of English and History is bound to come in handy when he heads to the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland EU this fall to study International Relations. Born in Paris to an Italian mom and a French father, Gabe has spent many years travelling internationally, but he says it was first his involvement with the Model UN club at MHS (discussing world response to issues such as counterterrorism, the refugee crisis, or the zombie outbreak in India) and then. later, his AP US History coursework that guided him to his intended path.

At MHS, he never shied away from the most rigorous English and social studies courses, taking AP US History, AP European History, AP US Government, AP Language, and AP Literature. Gabe said he “had the pleasure of having Margaret Groninger” his junior year for AP Lang. “She was really cool in that she never felt like a teacher but more like a class mom. Apart from being brilliant and really pushing me to being a better and more eloquent writer, she was there for me throughout a very tough junior year,” he said. And having Peter Greene senior year for AP Euro “was special”. According to Gabe, “Mr. Greene was the opposite of senioritis for me, I had him first period, and the course load isn’t very slacky.”

Beyond the subjects Gabe always gravitated to, he says Dr. Nunes made Physics bearable for him. “He had a way of teaching that made me not hate science. It sounds very morbid put that way, but every kid in my class loved him, and he had an amazing way of teaching and helping everyone to learn before instructing,” said Gabe.

Being a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and playing golf were two activities that served as an important break from schoolwork. Gabe also ran track every year at least one season to “keep his body and mind sharp.”

Gabe was Chapter Reporter of FBLA his junior year and Chapter Co-President his senior year. During the school year, he says he spent an average of about two or three hours per day on FBLA work, including attending weekly membership and leadership meetings. “I loved the people. My best friends were in FBLA. It was like family,” he said. “Through FBLA, we acquired so many skills that will be of benefit later in life like networking, resume building, presentations, and public speaking.”

Gabe topped off his high school experience by doing an internship in the spring with a law firm specializing in medical malpractice and litigation. “It was awesome,” he said.

“It was tough work junior year and the start of senior year. But once you stop worrying about all the work and you see school through friends, teachers, events, etc., it’s pretty cool,” Gabe added.

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