Top of the Class - 2020

25 Jun 2020 | 01:18

The West Milford Messenger is proud to introduce readers to the West Milford High School Class of 2020’s highest achieving students (as per GPA’s). They’ve accomplished a great deal academically, but these graduates have also been involved in various activities, athletics, clubs, civic organizations, community outreach, peer support, religious organizations, volunteerism, work, youth leadership, and more; during their high school years.

They have already become important members of the community in which they’ve grown up.

They have bright futures and big plans as they continue onto the next step in their academic and life journey.

Top 11

There are eleven graduates featured this year because the number ten spot is tied by two students that have the same GPA.

The WMHS Top of the Class of 2020 Graduates are:

1. SAMANTHA HAZEN

Awards: Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Many Academic Scholar Awards.

● National Honor Society,

● WMHS Lacrosse

● Yearbook Club

● WMGSA Recreational League Softball

● Peers As Leaders (PALS)

● Peer Tutor- NHS

● Pickleball

Future Plans:

“I will be attending Bryant University where I will major in Applied Mathematics Statistics as a member of their Honors Program.”

“I think something important to note is just because I do well in school, doesn’t mean I find school to be ‘easy’.”

“My biggest motivation was my parents, specifically my mom. She always taught me that getting good grades, and performing well in school would allow me to be more opportunities later in life.”

“Some of my favorite memories are just all the classes I shared with my friends and all the laughs we had together. Any class can be made tolerable with the right friends.”

2. SERA AGOSTINELLI

Awards: Class of 2020 Salutatorian, Drivers Education Award, Second Team All County (soccer), First Team All Conference (soccer),

Captain for Girls Varsity Soccer

● Girls Varsity Soccer

● Girls Varsity Lacrosse

● Interact Club

● Chess Club

● Peers As Leaders (PALS)

● Boys Varsity Basketball Statistician

● National Honors Society

● Science Honors Society

● Mu Alpha Theta

● Played at Clarkstown Soccer Club

Future Plans:

“I will be attending Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Computer Science and Psychology.”

3. RILEY MCGILL

Awards: AP Scholar Award, RIT Computing Award, First Team - Big North Conference, Distinguished Scholars, 9th Grade Ringwood Manor Association of Arts Award, Citizen of the Month

● Girls Varsity Soccer Captain

● Varsity Lacrosse Player

● Treasurer of the 2020 Class Council

● Secretary of French Honor Society

● Member of Mu Alpha Theta

● Member of Science Honor Society

● Member of National Honor Society

● Member of PALS

● Member of Chess Club

● Member of Interact Club

● Boys Varsity Basketball Statistician

Future Plans:

“Attending University of Colorado Boulder for Mechanical Engineering”

“My favorite memory from WMHS was going to the diner after football games with my friends. There, we would see many students that also just arrived from the football game. It was nice to see my peers there, and gave an amazing feeling of the community as one.”

4. SOPHIE PILAAR

Awards: National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, English Department Award.

Activities/ Clubs/ Volunteerism:

● Four years of Field Hockey,

● Four years of Lacrosse

● NJSIAA Ambassador for the first two years of the Student Ambassador Program,

● Student Representative/ activism for high school sport legislation,

● other miscellaneous volunteer work throughout the past four years.

Future Plans:

“I will be attending the University of Delaware to study Chemical Engineering, hopefully with an increased focus in sustainability or alternative energy.”

“Any time I got to bounce ideas off my classmates was the best part of high school for me, from English and History class debates to studying with my classmates for science and math tests. The comradery we had is one continuous and meaningful memory for me throughout all of High School.”

5. KARI MALATAK

Awards: National Honors Society, History Department Award, NJSIAA Scholar Athlete

● Lacrosse (captain)

● Field Hockey (captain)

● Swim team (captain)

● Class Vice President

● History Club

● Varsity Club

● French Honors Society

● Math Honors Society

● Science Honors Society

● West Milford Presbyterian Church: Confirmation Class Teacher

Future Plans:

“University of New Hampshire for International Affairs and Homeland Security.”

Who I Would Like to Thank:

“Thank you to my family for supporting me in everything I do! Also, thank you to all of my teachers for believing in me, answering my questions, being so wise, and laughing at my jokes sometimes.”

6. USAKARN ANANTASUB

Awards: Marching Band’s “Outstanding Freshman” Award, 2020 North Jersey Area Band, Distinguished Scholar for 4 years, Member of National Honor Society, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, NJ Elks Peer Leadership Conference

● Pipe Major of the WM Highlander Pipes and Drums

● Alto Saxophone Section Leader of the WM Highlander Marching Band

● Principal Alto Saxophone of the Wind Ensemble

● Lead Alto Saxophone of the WM Jazz Ensemble

● Member of the Pit Orchestra

● Member of the Scenic Art Crew

● Secretary of Mu Alpha Theta

● Member of National Honor Society

● Member of Science National Honor Society

● Member of Chess Club

● Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership state seminar

● Volunteer tutor for physics

● Volunteer at Highlands Family Success Center events

● Volunteer at local special events like dances, family nights, Easter breakfast, and tree lightings

Future Plans:

“I will be attending Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ for Engineering.”

“Thank you to my family who has been extremely supportive of me through all these programs and being there at all the events to cheer on me. Thank you to every staff member who has taught me all the things that shaped me into not only the student, but the person that I am today.”

7. SABRINA PEREIRA

Awards: WMHS Visual Art Award, Certificate of Achievement in the Distinguished Scholars Recognition Program (all 4 years),

● National Honor Society

● National Art Honor Society

● National Science Honor Society

● Art Club

● Volunteer at the West Milford Animal Shelter

Future Plans:

“Attending Stockton University with a major in Biology.”

Who I Would Like to Thank:

“I would like to thank my sister Roseann, my aunt Reneé, and my mom for supporting me in my passion for art and biology and helping me work toward pursuing them.”

8. KRISTEN GRAF

Awards: Distinguished Scholars award all four years, First team all county for soccer junior and senior years.

● Co-President of National Honor Society

● Math Honor Society

● Science Honor Society

● PALS

● Interact Club

● Captain of Varsity Soccer Team

● Captain of Varsity Track Team

Future Plans:

“Attend the University of New Hampshire for Nursing for either my bachelors or masters degree.”

“My favorite memory at WMHS was when the Girls Soccer team became Conference Champions for the first time in 20 years.”

9. ANNA BRAND

Awards: Four-Time Distinguished Scholar Award for Top 15 of class, National Honor Society (Vice President), French Honor Society (Treasurer), Science Honor Society, Softball First Team All-County Recognition - sophomore year, Softball 2nd Team All Conference Recognition- sophomore year.

● High School Softball Captain

● High School Volleyball Captain

● Green Team Club

● History Club Club

● GSA Club

● Travel and Club Softball

● Volunteer at various West Milford X-treme softball clinics

● Social Justice Activism

Future Plans:

“I will be attending Roger Williams University in Rhode Island within the Journalism major in the fall.”

“I would like to thank my family, my teachers, and all of my classmates for pushing me over the years to become a better student and a better person, and for always being supportive.”

10a. LANCY ZHENG

Awards: Distinguished Scholars, Department Award for Math, Section Leader for Marching Band, Secretary for NAHS, VP for PALS, VP Mu Alpha Theta.

● Mu Alpha Theta

● National Art Honor Society

● National Honor Society

● PALS

● Chess Club

● Highlander Marching Band

● WM Highlander Pipes and Drums

Future Plans:

“University of Pittsburgh as a Chemistry Major.”

“I would like to thank Mrs. Nitkinas for helping me with all the math problems and always prepared us with any upcoming test, especially the AP exam. I’d also like to say thank you to Mr. Nitkinas for helping me with my essays and answering my questions even though you always seemed annoyed with all the questions I asked :). I’d also like to thank Mr. Petrosi for giving me more perspective on the life of chemistry and always helping me with the chemistry problems. Lastly, I would like to say thank you to Mrs. Salle. You are always positive and made the two years I had with you fun.”

10b. KAYLA SIEMER

Awards: National Honors Society, Science Honors Society, Foreign Language Honors Society, Distinguished Scholars 2017-2020, WMHS’s Passaic Female Athlete of the Year Nominee, 2nd Team All-County (2018), 2nd Team All-Conference (2018), 1st Team All-County (2019), 1st Team All-Conference (2019), 2nd Team North Jersey

● West Milford High School Field Hockey -Captain

● Rapid Fire Elite Field Hockey Club

● West Milford High School Softball

● Varsity Club- President

● Employed at Mario’s Deli

Future Plans:

“I will be attending University of New Haven to continue my Academic and Field Hockey career at the Collegiate level.”

Who I Would Like to Thank:

“I would like to thank my family- my mom, dad, sister Brianna, Heidi, Tony and Trevor- for always supporting and believing in me, whether it was driving state to state to athletic tournaments, being on the side lines of every game or helping me find the right words for each school essay. I am thankful for my teachers and their patience and dedication to their students, and sometimes making the stressful times a little more fun (Thank you Petrosi). I would like to thank my coaches (Coach Provost and Palugie) for always supporting me and believe in my abilities even when I didn’t. And lastly I would like to thank my friends for making these last four years that much better.”