Happening at the Great Neck School District

Happening at the Great Neck School District

Class of 2022—valedictorians & salutatorians

An overview of the Great Neck Public Schools Class of 2022 reveals 644 graduates from the district’s three high schools: 307 from John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School, 328 from William A. Shine-Great Neck South High School, and nine from The Village School. A look at the valedictorians and salutatorians for North and South High Schools follows.


The North High School valedictorian is Sahar Tartak. The South High School valedictorian is Jansen Wong.

North High Valedictorian Sahar Tartak is a National Merit Scholarship winner. She served as president of the North High Student Organization (S.O.), president of Model Congress, and founder/president of the Child Foundation Club. In the area of performing arts, Sahar was a vice president of the North High chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, treasurer of the A Cappella group, and a member of the Junior Players theatre troupe. She was active in the North High DECA chapter throughout her high school career, serving as a chapter officer and earning several first and second-place honors at regional, state, and international DECA competitions. Sahar was elected as president of the New York DECA Executive Council for the 2021–22 school year and she won first place at the 2022 International DECA Competition. Sahar will attend Yale University.

South High Valedictorian Jansen Wong is a National Merit Scholarship winner, an AP Scholar, and he earned perfect scores on the SAT and in three different subject areas of the SAT II. He served in leadership roles for several South High academic teams that earned regional, state, and national honors, including president of the Envirothon team, president of the Science Bowl Team, and captain of the Science Olympiad Team. In addition to team awards, Jansen also earned individual awards in Science Olympiad challenges, several subject-specific Olympiad competitions, and the Nassau County Math Tournament. Other executive board roles included treasurer of Student Government and founder/president of the Physics Club. Jansen was a member of the South High Math Team, Orchestra, and Programming Club. Jansen will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


The North High School Co-salutatorians are Kevin Khadavi and David Zeng. The South High School salutatorian is Ross Williams.

North High Co-Salutatorian Kevin Khadavi is a Commended Student through the National Merit Scholarship Program, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a medalist in the National Latin, National Greek, National Classical Etymology, and Medusa Mythology exams. He was the founder/president of the North High Classics Club, team captain and first-place winner in the New York State Junior Classical League, and a voting delegate and team captain in the National Junior Classical League. He served as Secretary-General (president) of the Model United Nations Club and won awards at several Model UN conferences. Kevin was a member of the North High DECA chapter and a finalist in the International DECA Competition. He was also the founder/captain of the school’s Euro Challenge Team. He served as co-president of the North High chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and was a member of North High’s winning team in the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society’s Young Musicians Innovation Challenge. Kevin will attend Stanford University.

North High Co-Salutatorian David Zeng is a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and a National Spanish Exam silver medalist. He served as co-captain of the Math Team, vice president of the Astronomy Club, treasurer of the Chess Club, and a member of the Debate Team. He was president of the Science Olympiad Team and received honorable mentions at the WAC Lighting Invitational Science Fair for multiple science research projects. He served as co-president of the North High chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and was selected to participate in competitive music festivals hosted by the Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) and the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA). He also served as a concertmaster when the North High Symphony Orchestra took the stage at Carnegie Hall. David will attend New York University.

South High Salutatorian Ross Williams is a National Merit Scholarship winner, an AP Scholar, and a National Latin Exam gold medalist. He also received awards through the American Classical League and National Junior Classical League. Ross was an active member of Theatre South throughout high school, serving as captain of the Improv Troupe and participating in South High’s musicals, one-act productions, and winter plays. Passionate about programming, Ross was president of the Programming Club, program leader of the South High Rebel Robotics Team #2638, and he co-founded a computer programming school known as the Great Neck Teaching Academy. Ross volunteered with organizations and spearheaded fundraisers for Island Harvest and the Junior League of Long Island Clothing Drive. Ross will attend Case Western University.

Class of 2022—Barstow & Scott Moss Awards

Each year, John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School and William A. Shine-Great Neck South High School announce the winners of significant graduation awards, including the annual Barstow and Scott Moss Awards. A look at these awards, and their recipients, follows.

Barstow Awards

The coveted Frederic Duclos Barstow Award was established in 1962 by Françoise and William Barstow in memory of their only son who died of pneumonia at age 35. The Barstows were prominent Great Neck residents after whom Barstow Road is named. The Barstow Award is given annually to students at each high school. Recipients of must be in the top 10 percent of their class and be “outstanding in leadership, citizenship, scholarship, and service.” Each recipient receives a monetary prize.

North High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian are traditionally their school’s Barstow Award winners. Information about Valedictorian Sahar Tartak and Co-Salutatorians Kevin Khadavi and David Zeng is featured in a press release about the Class of 2022 Valedictorians and Salutatorians.

South High’s Barstow Award winners are Lydia Wang and John Xie.

Lydia Wang is a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program. She served as the co-president and art director for the Community Action Club, and she was an active member of the Human Rights Club, Math Team, Pre-Med Club, and Red Cross Club. Lydia is an avid runner and three-season athlete who participated in the Cross-Country, Winter Track, and Spring Track teams at South High. She shared her joy of learning with younger children as a tutor and music teacher outside of school. Lydia will attend Stony Brook University.

John Xie is a Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. He was a member of the South High DECA chapter, Debate Team, Christian Seekers, and Asian Culture Club. John was a varsity athlete on the Tennis team and served as captain of the Volleyball team. He participated in numerous science research opportunities and competitions, and he was even published in two scholarly journals. During the pandemic, John initiated a mental health start-up and created opportunities to help others in need by coordinating grocery pickup, tutoring, and support for medical sector workers. John will attend Ross School of Business at Michigan University.

Scott Moss Memorial Award

The Scott Moss Award was established in 1977, in memory of Scott, who was an outstanding South High student until his death from cancer. The award is given to the graduating senior who exemplifies the “service, concern, interest, and ability of Scott Moss.” The recipient of the Scott D. Moss Memorial Award, given at South High School, is Sana Merchant.

Sana Merchant is a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program. She was a leader on the South High Rebel Robotics Team #2638 and her passion for engineering inspired her to co-found She Has Empowerment (SHE), an initiative that encourages female participation in robotics and STEM programs. Sana was also a member of the South High Tennis team throughout her high school career. She coordinated and participated in various service and fundraising activities as a member of the Key Club and Red Cross Club. During the pandemic, Sana combined her passion for helping others, her industriousness, and her technology skills to design and 3D-print face shields to donate to local police officers. Sana will attend Brown University.

Class of 2022—Gleitsman & Taney Awards

The John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School presents two prestigious awards at its graduation ceremony—the Alan L. Gleitsman Outstanding Graduate Award and the Genelle Taney Memorial Award. (The school’s other awards are given at the school’s Senior Awards Event prior to commencement).

Gleitsman Award

The late Alan Gleitsman, a 1947 graduate of then Great Neck High School, established the Alan L. Gleitsman Outstanding Graduate Award in 1988 to be given annually to a North High School graduating senior. Gleitsman winners must place within the top 10 percent of their graduating class, uphold a high level of quality involvement in student activities, be dedicated to the school and the well-being of fellow students, and have a commitment to pursue further education on the college level. Sahar Tartak is the winner of the 2022 Gleitsman Award. Sahar, who is also the North High Valedictorian, is featured in a press release about the Class of 2022 Valedictorians and Salutatorians.

Taney Memorial Award

Genelle B. Taney was a 2003 North High graduate who died at age 19, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Genelle was the 2003 Gleitsman Award recipient and is remembered for her “unsurpassed love of knowledge, a dedication to the arts, a passion for athletics, and an endless commitment to the betterment of her school and her fellow classmates.” The Taney Award recipient should possess a combination of these qualities. The Award is based solely on merit. One-quarter of the Award must be contributed by the recipient to a charity of his/her choice, subject to the approval of the Award trustees. The Award was established in Genelle’s memory in 2006. Natasha Khazzam is the winner of the 2022 Taney Award.

Natasha Khazzam was a national award winner in the NCTE Writing Competition, a regional Gold Key recipient in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and a gold medalist on both the National Spanish Exam and the National French Exam. She served as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, president of the French Club, and president of the Multicultural Club. She was also a member of the Foreign Affairs Club, a peer tutor, and a peer leader. Natasha was captain of the North High Cross Country, Winter Track, and Spring Track teams, and she earned All-Conference and All-Division athletic honors. During the pandemic, Natasha built a website to create the Virtual Coffee House, which provided a creative outlet for students and showcased original student artwork in various mediums. Natasha will attend Yale in the fall.

North High athlete earns All-American honors

Adam Namdar, a senior at North High School, capped off his high school track and field career with a podium finish at the Nike Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Oregon on June 18. He competed in the high jump against the best high school athletes in the country and won third place with an impressive jump of 6’7”.

Adam McKenzie, coach of the North High boys track team, first encouraged Adam Namdar to try the high jump during the 2021 spring season. Adam was already a member of North High’s track and field team who competed in running events, but he had never competed in the high jump.

Adam immediately found success in his new event. In his very first season competing in the high jump, he won the Division Championship, third place at the Nassau County Championships, and second place at the Long Island Meet of Champions with a jump of 6’4”. Adam earned All-Division, All-County, and All Long Island Honors in the spring of 2021. There was no State Meet in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Adam returned to the high jump during the 2022 winter season. He won the Conference Championship and County Championship titles, and he finished in second place at the State Meet with a jump of 6’5”—setting a new school record. Adam also qualified for the National Championships in the winter season and placed seventh in the competition. He earned All-Conference, All-County, All-State, and All-Long Island Honors.

This spring, in his final season as a high school athlete, Adam defended his County Championship title with a jump of 6’6”. He again placed second at the New York State Championships and advanced to the National Championships. This time, Adam cleared 6’7”, earning third place and a spot on the podium at the Nike Outdoor National championships at the famous Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. His final season was the best of his career, earning All-Conference, All-County, All-Long Island, All-State, and All-American Honors.

The North High boys track team is led by Coach Adam McKenzie, a physical education teacher at Lakeville School, and Assistant Coach Israel Henriquez, a Spanish teacher at North High.

“Watching Adam compete, placing third and becoming an All American in the high jump at Hayward Field, is one of the top highlights of my coaching career,” says Coach McKenzie, a North High graduate himself (’81) and former school record holder in the high jump event. “I am very proud of him and to have coached him to a new school record in an event that I once held in the same event at North.”

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