Johanna Kann, Gemma Schneider named Roslyn valedictorian and salutatorian

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Roslyn valedictorian Johanna Kann, left, and salutatorian Gemma Schneider. (Photos courtesy of Johanna Kann and Gemma Schneider)

Valedictorian Johanna Kann said she took the hardest courses available during her time at Roslyn High School, finding that they offered her the most complete explanation of what she was learning about. Salutatorian Gemma Schneider spent high school diving into both the humanities and sciences.

“I get really interested in whatever it is that I’m doing,” Schneider said. “It’s almost like whatever I’m studying in at that exact moment is what I’m interested in and what I love.”

Ending high school with the highest weighted GPAs in their class and the titles that accompany them were nice recognition for four years of hard work, they said.

Roslyn’s school system provided a learning environment with smart, kind people who became dear friends, Kann said as she finishes up the school year before jumping to Chicago in the fall to attend Northwestern University.

“I honestly just like the people,” she said of the schools. “It was a lot of people who were like-minded.”

Both Kann and Schneider were involved in an array of extracurriculars both in and out of school.

Serving as editor in chief of the high school’s newspaper allowed Schneider to help guide freshman participants, she said. Summers spent at a Stony Brook University research program first studying breast cancer and then orthopedic implants landed her a presenting gig at a conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Despite the six clubs she is a member of, five of which she holds leadership roles in, Schneider said she tries to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

“If I don’t get a lot of sleep the next day for me is just brutal,” she said. “It affects my mood. It affects everything.”

Kann is the captain of the science olympiad team and the president of the science national honor society. She plays on the varsity softball team and for the past two years had been attending German school to connect with her family’s roots.

Her face on her first day of chemistry class was representative of her enthusiasm for the field, she said.

“We were just going over basic lab procedures and my teacher talks about how we’d be using the Bunsen burner in class and apparently my face got so excited that she had to stop the class to tell me to calm down,” Kann said.

Attending Northwestern will allow her to major in both chemical engineering and integrated sciences, she said.

Schneider said she plans to further explore her interests while attending Harvard University. She is considering pursuing journalism or public policy. Emerging technology is currently a particular point of interest because of work she’s done in the ethics and government club she leads, she said.

“We do a lot of cases that involve new technologies and their ethical ramifications and that something I’ve really loved,” Scheider said.

The Roslyn Board of Education recognized Kann and Schneider at last Thursday’s meeting, and Principal Scott Andrews read statements the students’ teachers wrote about them.

“If it were possible to harness the energy of her genuine personality and zest for life, then all of Manhattan could be powered,” one teacher wrote about Kann. “Johanna is undeniable intelligent, grounded and charismatic.”

Kann’s grandmothers proudly watched.

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