Top of Their Class

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Mepham Valedictorian

Full Name: Gina Connors

Hometown: North Bellmore, NY

College/University attending: University of Notre Dame

Major: Chemistry

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts (please include any officiating positions): Class President, Track and Cross Country Captain, Band

Awards/Honors/Societies: National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Italian Honor Society Secretary, English Honor Society Secretary, Tri-M Music Honor Society

Academic achievement/project/volunteering/thesis/etc. that you set out to accomplish that you are particularly proud of? I am proud to have been a peer tutor. Using the knowledge I acquired throughout my four years of high school, I was able to help my peers and make a difference in their lives as students, which I take pride in. 

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: I would like to thank my class advisor, Erica Wagner-O’Rourke, for all of her advice regarding dealing with the stresses of school and of the future. It was her help and advice that allowed me to be proud of the results all of my hard work instead of being so quick to critique them.

Advice to incoming seniors on goals, academic track, etc.: Senior year is still hard work. Between college applications and heavy course loads, it is normal to feel stressed-- but stress should not take over your life, especially not in your last year of high school. Continue to work hard and excel and be proud of all that you accomplish. The school year is not as long as it seems, so make the most of it. Enjoy what the remainder of the high school experience has to offer.

Mepham Salutatorian

Isabelle Chan

Hometown: Bellmore

College/Major/Future Plans: Boston College; Biochemistry

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts (please include any officiating positions): Vice President Habitat for Humanity, National Honors Society, Math Honors Society, English Honors Society, Science Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, Varsity Volleyball Captain, Varsity Track and Field

Academic achievement/project/volunteering/thesis/etc. that you set out to accomplish that you are particularly proud of? Scholar Athlete Recipient, St. John’s Women in Science Award Recipient, Seal of Biliteracy Recipient, National Spanish Exam Bronze Medalist. I’m particularly proud of being a Habitat for Humanity volunteer because of the change I get to insight and contribute to within my community and communities around me. I got to be apart of something greater than myself and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin:  I would like to acknowledge Jennifer Malone and Dr. David Kommor for being extraordinary mentors and teachers to me throughout the years.

Advice to incoming freshmen: My advice to future students would be to just be yourself and enjoy the ride. Follow your heart because it will never steer you wrong and wherever you end up you’ll know that that’s where you need to be.


MAP Valedictorian

Full Name: Jordan Ladd

Hometown: Merrick

College/Major/Future Plans: Farmingdale State College in the fall as a Bioscience major.

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts (please include any officiating positions): president the Key Club at MAP, a BMCHSD Student Ambassador, the MAP Student Representative for the Board of Education, a staunch Community Cupboard volunteer, GSA President, and Founder of the MAP Greenhouse Project (she actually wrote the grant for funding!). Jordan is a member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society at Calhoun.

Academic achievement/project/volunteering/thesis/etc. that you set out to accomplish that you are particularly proud of? She feels that one of her proudest accomplishments is the Brookside Greenhouse. As a high school junior, it was a bit unnerving to write a formal grant, but she did so, and was awarded the funds to cover the purchase of the greenhouse. She wanted it established to support the Community Cupboard by providing fresh food to local families in need.

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: Principal Mrs. Susan Ellinghaus and the amazing faculty at MAP and her parents.

Advice to incoming seniors on goals, academic track, etc.: MAP has taught me it’s not about where you come from, it’s about how far you go.


MAP Salutatorian

Full Name: Chazz Opperman

Hometown: Bellmore

College/Major/Future Plans: He plans to expand his part-time job into a full-time job to prepare for his future as an entrepreneur. He would like to have a career in sales and ultimately own his own pet shop. He will also consider business courses at a local college that could enhance his career. 

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts (please include any officiating positions): Chazz is a BMCHSD Student Ambassador and volunteered at Family Project at GAMs for many years. He has been on the Honor Roll for his entire senior year.

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: the faculty and staff at MAP for their support.

Advice to incoming seniors on goals, academic track, etc.: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you! I wish I’d done it sooner!


Calhoun Valedictorian

Full Name: Joy Ma

Hometown: Merrick, Long Island

College/University Attending: Yale University

Major: Molecular, Developmental, Cellular Biology with a pre-med track


            - Fencing (ranked 4th in the nation, silver medalist at 2016 and 2018 Junior Olympics, 2017 Cadet PanAmerican Champion in Cuba)

            - Research at Cornell University (studied the efficacy of α10β1 - selected mesenchymal stem cells in treating horses with post-traumatic osteoarthritis using a marker for lubricin)

            - Pianist for Calhoun Jazz Band

            - Second singles for Calhoun Varsity Badminton

            - First flutist for Nassau Suffolk Wind Symphony


            - National Merit Scholarship Finalist

            - English, Social Studies, Math, Science, Music, Italian, National Honor Societies

            - Bellmore-Merrick Cultural Arts Foundation Award

Academic achievement/Project/Volunteering/Thesis:

            - Research at Cornell

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin:

            - My parents, for supporting me in everything I do in every way they can.

            - My fencing coach, Vladimir Gofman, who unfortunately passed away a few weeks ago. He was one of the main reasons I am the fencer and person that I am today.

            - Science/ASR teacher Jennifer Pefanis, for creating a home away from home at school.

Advice to incoming seniors:

            - Get started on college applications over the summer/as early as possible!

- Take time to enjoy senior year! Whether or not you loved your high school experience, you don’t realize that you’re going to miss it until you’re saying good-bye. Appreciate the people who have helped to shape your life for the past four years, perhaps even longer.

Calhoun Salutatorian

Name: Amelia Seabold

Hometown: Merrick, NY

College/Major/Future Plans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; biology

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts: Model United Nations (Secretary General), EMSC Travel Soccer (Captain), Varsity Soccer and Wind Ensemble (Treasurer)

Awards/Honors/Societies: Regeneron STS 2018 Research Report Badge, Regeneron STS 2018 Student Initiative Badge, AP Scholar with Distinction, first place at Rube Goldberg Competition, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Semifinalist and Honors Societies: National, Science, Social Studies, English, Tri-M Music, Italian, Math

Academic achievement/Project/Volunteering/Thesis: CRISPR/Cas9 Genetics/Molecular Biology Research on ANCA Vasculitis at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: A special thanks to Jennifer Pefanis, my research advisor who has helped me tremendously throughout the past three years in research and life, and Dominic Ciavatta, my mentor at UNC. 

Advice to incoming seniors: Don’t get too caught up in applications and tests, take a deep breath and take it all in because you only get to experience high school once.


Kennedy Valedictorian

Name: Dylan Judd

Hometown: Bellmore

College/Major/Future Plans: Wesleyan University, Undecided, but I am interested in Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Statistics

Clubs/Organizations/Sports/Arts: Varsity Baseball, Varsity Volleyball, Athletes Helping Athletes, Math Club, Tutors for a Cure

Awards/Honors/Societies: Varsity Coach’s Award (2x), New York State Sportsmanship Award (Volleyball), 3x County Champion (Volleyball), 2017 Long Island Champion (Volleyball), 2017 State Finalist (Volleyball), 2016 County Finals Runner Up (Baseball), Cougar Pride Award, Math Honor Society, New York State Science Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, AP Scholar, Commended National Merit Scholar, Seal of Biliteracy, World Language Student of the Month, United States Marine Youth Foundation Physical Fitness Award, Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Scholarship Award

Academic achievement/Project/Volunteering/Thesis: I am really proud of my determination to do my best in the classroom even while competing in two varsity sports and travel baseball year round. I have had to make sacrifices to keep my grades and my play at a high level, but it was all worth it. I wouldn’t change my life one bit, and I am so happy that I was able to find a proper balance between sports, school, and life in general. In my mind, this is my greatest accomplishment.

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: I am so grateful to have been taught by the amazing academic staff at Kennedy. Thank you all for helping me become the student and person I am today. Because of you all, I am able to appreciate all facets of life and fully embrace the well-rounded education I have received thus far. That being said, there are two teachers I would like to shout out: my chemistry teacher Helmut Schleith and my 10th grade English teacher Jennifer Sapir. You two have been such an influence on my life and have supported me in my pursuit for higher education, pushing me to new limits that I didn’t even know were possible. Mr. Schleith and Mrs. Sapir, you both were amazing educators and people that I will never forget!

Advice to incoming seniors: To the incoming seniors: congrats on finishing junior year! After months of 3 a.m. nights doing homework and early mornings of Driver’s Ed, you can finally catch up on that precious sleep you have missed. Senior year is a transitional year, one where you begin a new chapter of your life. By this time next year, you will know where you are going to college, you will have an idea of what you want to study, you will have a plan. Be sure to stay focused on who you are and your goals, as only these will lead you on the right path moving forward. Senior year is also a year of goodbyes; you are leaving friendships and family behind as you move forward in life. So, I want you all to enjoy every moment you have next year because these are some of the last you will have together as the Class of 2019. I have had the pleasure to know a bunch of you guys, whether it be from class or sports, and I can’t wait to see where you all end up and the contributions you make to our society as a whole.

Kennedy Salutatorian

Name: David Kantor

Hometown: Merrick

College: Dartmouth College

Major: Economics


Key Club- President (Grade 12); Vice-President (Grade 11)

Virtual Enterprise- CEO

Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band- Executive Board member (Euphonium player)

Varsity Tennis- Starting doubles player

Junior Varsity Soccer- Starting defenseman

FBLA (Stock Market Club)

Math Club


National Merit Program Commended Student

National Honor Society

  • National Science Honor Society
  • National Business Honor Society
  • Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society (Mathematics)
  • World Language Honor Society (Spanish)
  • Tri-M Honor Society (Music)

Academic achievement/project/volunteering/thesis/etc. that you set out to accomplish that you are particularly proud of?

  • Finalist in the Virtual Enterprise National Business Plan Competition (1 of 28 teams to advance to the National Level)
  • Finalist in the Adelphi Apprentice Challenge
  • Second place in the JFK Science Fair
  • Weekly volunteer at Sensory Beans (a local facility gym designed for children of all abilities- I worked with many children that had special needs)
  • Tutors for a Cure- Proceeds are donated to charities providing assistance to children with cancer

Support shout out to a mentor/teacher/coach/admin: I would like to thank Jessica Chilton for being such an amazing Key Club mentor over these past four years. Your efforts are seriously not commended enough. Without you, our organization wouldn’t be complete and we wouldn’t be able to do the service that we do! Thank you for taking the time out of your life to better the world around you! You truly inspire me!

Advice to incoming seniors on goals, academic track, etc.: Don’t focus on building a college resume, focus on pursuing your academic and extracurricular interests. Once you have discovered your interests, explore them. Become engaged and immersed in whatever it is that you care about. If you have trouble finding your path, try a wide variety of clubs, classes, etc. Eventually you will find your calling and the rest will work itself out.