Herricks High School is proud to announce Derek Chen and Nicholas Newsome as the Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. Both students are AP Scholars with Distinction, National Honor Society members and National Merit Commended students.
Chen has been co-editor-in-chief of the “Opus Literary Magazine” for two years, president of the Rube Goldberg Club and captain of the Chinese Yoyo Club. He’s also a science research student and received a stipend from the Simons Foundation that enabled him to participate in research fellowships at Queens College and Stony Brook University. He is entering competitions for his work on optics simulations for optical systems.
A strong math student, Chen is a medalist in the Long Island Math Fair, was among the top 20 percent of scorers in the Nassau County Interscholastic Math League and serves as a member of the Mathletes core committee that runs activities. Additionally, he’s won medals in the Science Olympiad and took first place in the National French Contest. He is a Tzu/Shao Youth Group member and does community service and fundraisers with the organization. He has also volunteered at the Happy Summer Camp and as a tutor. As a hobby, he enjoys raising succulents.
“I’m really proud of my extracurriculars and the community I’ve been a part of,” Chen said. “Seeing the clubs grow makes me happy.”
Chen credits the faculty members at the high school with positively influencing him. He would like to continue his math involvement and perhaps become a professor in the future.
Newsome has earned a bronze medal and honorable mention in Le Grand Concours National French Contest. He has participated in Model UN since his freshman year and, this year, serves as secretary general, which is equivalent to president. He has served as president of the French Club since his freshman year. By graduation, he will have completed 12 AP courses. Newsome aspires to pursue studies in economics and go into the film industry’s corporate side.
In addition to being a member of the golf team and the Art Club, Newsome also runs a social media account he created for a television show. An active volunteer in the community, he earned the Gold Presidential Service Award for his outreach. He has volunteered at Camp Invention, the Herricks Summer Recreation Program and at Herricks Gardens, has tutored other students and was on the Freshman Focus executive board as a mentor and leader. In addition to his busy schedule, he took over weekend managerial duties in his job at a local card store.
Both seniors share positive reflections on the high school experience at Herricks and have sound advice for younger peers.
“Do what works best for you, even if it’s unconventional,” Newsome said. “It’s important in high school to indulge your interests.”
“Finding your own interests and focusing on pursuing them is critical,” Chen said.
Story submitted by Syntax.