At the top of their high school classes

At the top of their high school classes

As the school year comes to a close and high school seniors prepare for graduation, several Great Neck students will finish their secondary education with one final honor – being named class valedictorian.

Nola Gordon and David Hyun Kim are this year’s co-valedictorians at Great Neck South High School, and Jayant Sani took home the honor for Great Neck North High School.

Sani, who will attend Harvard University in the fall, discovered he had been named valedictorian when Great Neck North principal Bernard Kaplan pulled him out of class and broke the news after the year’s first semester.

“I was very pleased. I knew I was in the running, but I had no idea I was valedictorian,” Sani said. “It was basically a validation of all my work and it was great to know that everything paid off.”

“I told my parents and we were all very excited,” Sani added.

Sani, whose academic interests trend towards math and the sciences, will study computer science at Harvard’s historic campus in Cambridge, Mass. That interest was sparked when his physics teacher introduced him to the online education Web site Udacity, which offers free courses in the field. Sani said he also took summer computer science courses at Harvard last year.

“It was very rewarding and I found it fun,” he said.

As for a career path, Sani said he would enjoy working for a major tech company like Google or Apple – but that, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg before him, he may use his time at Harvard to embark on his own projects.

“What would even be cooler is to start my own tech startup,” Sani said.

Sani was heavily involved with Great Neck North High School’s math team, participating in the Nassau County Interscholastic Mathematics League, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge and an all-county math team that competed in a national competition at Pennsylvania State University.

He also played tennis for Great Neck North, and was the varsity team’s captain this year. Sani has served as a ball boy at the U.S. Open tennis tournament – a job he said was especially exciting given his love of the sport.

“It was very cool to be a part of the experience and meet some players who I looked up to,” Sani said. 

Among Sani’s other extracurricular activities were the quiz bowl team, model United Nations and the tutoring of elementary school children.

“It was a great experience to have a family and do sports as well as all of my academics,” he said.

Gordon, who will major in pre-medicine at Williams College, participated in Great Neck South High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance and the science olympiad, according to Newsday.

Kim, who will attend Stanford University and study computer science and mathematics, was the Great Neck South High School math team co-president and participated in the science bowl, science olympiad, music community outreach and the New York Laureate Orchestra, according to Newsday.

Efforts to reach Gordon and Kim were unavailing.

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