After Manhasset Secondary School graduates Friday, two of its top students will leave Long Island to pursue prestigious Ivy League educations.
Valedictorian Gregory Dellis, 18, moved to Manhasset in second grade and is excited to be graduating from his mother’s former high school with top honors for the Class of 2017.
“I was pretty surprised at first because, of course, you don’t expect it,” Dellis said. “It’s a big honor to represent the class, knowing all the hard work that went into this.”
Dellis will head to Yale University in the fall as an undecided freshman, choosing between architecture, law or global affairs. The list of potential majors is indicative of his favorite high school classes, physics, AP world history and AP art, as well as many extracurricular activities and competitions.
“Through the art program, I did life drawing with the school. We had a model come in after school to do figure drawing,” Dellis said. “I was also part of the mock trial team, and I participated in the National Economics Competition, the Science Olympiad and the Physics Olympics.”
Manhasset Secondary School social studies teacher Annie Law gave advice to her students both during and after class, and one bit stuck with Dellis: “Always do what we believe in, work toward our own goals and be proud of the work we put in.”
“Mrs. Law had a big impact on us because she would spend sometimes full periods giving us advice for the future and opening up to us about her own life, her personal experiences and looking forward. That was really special to have,” Dellis said. “She was also our adviser for the national economics competition and would come in early every morning and stay late just to train us and go with us. She commuted from New Jersey every day, so we really appreciated all the effort she put into everything and the advice she gave.”
Dellis thanked Superintendent Charles Cardillo, who will retire at the end of the school year, for the impact he had on the current and past students under his watch since 2005.
“He worked hard to make sure every interest was represented in the school so every student could find somewhere they felt like they belonged but still be able to grow,” Dellis said.
Manhasset salutatorian Carina Lewandowski, 18, will make a new home at Princeton University in the fall studying chemical and biological engineering due in part to her love of math. During a summer engineering course at Brown University, she found the combination of math and biology while working on a project to design a new coronary artery material.
“I’ve always been a strong math student, and physics was the first class that showed me there was an intersection between using your math skills and your analytical skills but also using your creativity,” Lewandowski said. “A lot of the time when we’re doing hands-on labs in physics, we have to figure out our own procedure and go about them in our own way instead of having an entire plan explicitly written out for us.”
While not at all related to the math and science fields where Lewandowski excels, AP world history teacher Dr. David Dorman’s class helped her build crucial school skills needed for high school and beyond into her college career.
“I had (Dorman) for two years, and the class was very discussion-based, and we did a lot of writing in that class, so I feel like in general, it helped me and all the other students to develop, and I think having him as a freshman and sophomore was a good way to get ready for the harder classes in junior and senior year,” she said.
Outside the classroom, Lewandowski spends her time between field hockey in the fall and track in the winter and spring seasons coached by one man, Steve Sproul, who she saw as a role model and life adviser beyond sports.
“Especially track has been a defining part of my high school career because I got into it not expecting to be very good or expecting it to have such an impact on me, but I ended up joining a strong relay team with three other girls,” Lewandowski said. “We ended up setting the school record and winning the county championship, and I didn’t expect it to be such a team sport. Running is very individual, but it fostered a sense of team that was even greater than team sports I’ve played before.”
Though Lewandowski said she is excited about her future at Princeton, she’s realizing the golden years of high school are slipping away.
“My whole high school career, I never thought I would feel sad about leaving,” she said. “I was always very excited to start my own life, but in the final months of my senior year, I definitely realized there would be a lot of things I was going to miss — certainly my friends, but also my teachers and those little things about high school that won’t be the same in college. I’m certainly excited about college, but I’m realizing now more than ever I’ll miss high school, despite how I might have felt before.”