Manhasset valedictorian, historical society founder leaves lasting mark on community

Manhasset High School valedictorian Ryan Chung founded the Manhasset Historical Society in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Manhasset school district)

Manhasset’s Class of 2018 valedictorian, Ryan Chung, was shocked to learn that the 300-year-old community had no formal historical society, so in his sophomore year, he took on the task.

An avid history lover, Chung said he worked with Town of North Hempstead Historian Howard Kroplick and Manhasset students Emily Cruz, Ryan Thorpe and Jeffrey Torborg to create the Manhasset Historical Society in 2016.

Now, Chung is the valedictorian, with a weighted GPA of 4.62, and plans to go to Harvard University to study political science and potentially follow the law track.

After attending a teen scholars program at the New York Historical Society during the summer of 2016, Chung said he was inspired to join the local Manhasset group — only to learn one did not exist for the community founded in 1680.

“I’d always had a passion for history and it was always my favorite subject at school, but it didn’t really hit me until I was at this program that a historical society could do so much for students,” Chung said.

Currently, Chung said one of the society’s endeavors is to scan the Manhasset High School yearbooks. So far, the group has added about 20 yearbooks to its website and has more digitized waiting to be posted.

Also focused on his musical studies, Chung recently graduated from the Juilliard pre-college division at the Juilliard School in Manhattan, where the cellist performed solo, chamber and orchestra concerts.

He is also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America as one of the group’s 12 cellists between 16 and 19 years old. This summer, Chung said he will travel for his third international tour with the National Youth Orchestra, visiting Asia after covering Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia last summer and Amsterdam, Montpellier, Copenhagen and Prague in the summer of 2016.

Chung said his junior year AP Government teacher Kenneth Massetti helped propel him through high school and choose his current path for college as well as Manhasset High School Principal Dean Schlanger.

“Dr. Schlanger has put me on the best path possible,” Chung said. “I’ve worked really closely with him not only for the Manhasset Historical Society but also with the Alumni Profiles project where we interview past alumni and write about what they did in high school and how it prepared them for college and what they’ve done outside of Manhasset.”

Though Chung said he is excited to begin his college life in Massachusetts in the fall, “there’s no state that does pizza and bagels justice like New York.”


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