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2024 WPHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian Announced  

By Eva Mandelbaum  

 

The two inspiring students at the top of the Class of 2024 are official: the Valedictorian is Ava D’Arcy, and the Salutatorian is Nadiya Jones. Both students are the embodiment of hard work. 

 

This news fills both students with gratitude for their supporters: “I feel truly honored and incredibly grateful to my family, my friends, my teachers, my coaches, my counselor and everyone who has supported me throughout high school. It’s a long list, but honestly, they have all helped me so much,” Ava said. Nadiya said she, “felt so extremely thankful to have had so much support from [her] family, friends, teachers, and administrators.” 

 

Making it to the top of the class is no easy feat. Ava and Nadiya expressed that they both draw their motivation from family. Ava said, “My parents’ support and encouragement and my desire to be a role model for my younger sisters motivates me to work hard in school and in everything I do.”  

 

Nadiya explained that her grandfather is her biggest inspiration: “He grew up in Ukraine during times of starvation, yet still sought out education. His love for learning, especially math, is my biggest motivator to seize all the opportunities that an American education can offer me,” she explained. “He is truly an exemplar for lifelong learning.” 

 

While Nadiya and Ava are motivated by members of their families, they are also intrinsically motivated by their passion for learning and school. Ava said, “Coming to school every day excites me because I genuinely love learning. While I enjoy my classes, my favorite part of the day is definitely spending time with my friends at lunch.”  

 

Nadiya is excited by math and history. “I feel like there is a lot of overlap between these two subjects even though they are rarely grouped together,” she said. “I love analyzing patterns to predict outcomes, whether that be through the use of numbers and equations or the study of past events." 

 

For both Ava and Nadiya, what they do outside of the classroom is just as important as in it. Ava plays field hockey and basketball, and she is part of the GEMS and Advocates for the Earth Clubs. “While at times it can be hard to manage extracurriculars and academics, I find that having practice and clubs after school gives me a break and the opportunity to clear my mind before I have to refocus on schoolwork,” she said.  

 

Nadiya serves as our district’s Principal Justice of New York State’s Youth and Government, and she has also dedicated time toward volunteering for numerous Ukrainian groups and NGOs to raise money during the wartime. When asked about how she juggles extracurriculars with school, she explained, “Sometimes it can be really overwhelming trying to juggle schoolwork and extracurriculars, so I try to make sure to only participate in things that I truly feel passionate about— it makes me excited and motivated to try and make time!” 

 

Ava and Nadiya both have plenty of exciting times ahead of them. This summer, Ava looks forward to working, traveling, and spending time with friends, and in the fall, she is excited to head to college where she plans on studying to become an elementary school teacher.  

 

Nadiya will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, where she will pursue a degree from Wharton and the College of Arts in Science for International Studies and Business in the Huntsman Program, where she is excited to learn about global affairs through a business lens. Nadiya also hopes to become a Fulbright Scholar after college to make impactful change in Ukraine. 

 

Ava and Nadiya agree that the WPHS community has allowed them to thrive as students. “When I first came to WPHS my freshman year, the school community was exceptionally welcoming to me.” Ava said. “Over the past four years, I have been taught by extremely dedicated and supportive teachers and discovered how profoundly the diverse student body of WPHS enriches the learning environment and school community.  Both my classmates and my teachers have had an invaluable impact on my experience at the high school.” 

 

Nadiya shared, “WPHS has given me so many opportunities to thrive as a student. All of the teachers I have ever had have been so supportive and willing to help...I also love the diverse course offerings at our school; I have the ability to take classes like Multivariable Calculus, which other students at other schools can only dream of taking. Overall, the staff is extremely supportive, and we have abundant resources and classes to try to ensure all students have the potential to succeed.” 

 

When asked for advice for underclassmen, both students shared valuable wisdom. Nadiya said, “My biggest advice is to keep an open mind. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and rather than letting that frustrate you or deter you from trying again, use that “failure” as a lesson. High school is a time to try new things, even if you aren’t good at them. Some of my favorite subjects/topics in schools were the ones that I struggled with the most in high school, and I would not have discovered that if I gave up after “failing” to understand them at the beginning. Just keep an open mind and don’t let failure keep you from trying again!” 

 

Ava shared, “My advice for underclassman is that even if you haven’t found your place in the high school yet, you will! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, make mistakes, try new things, and ask for help when you need it. Most importantly enjoy this time and have fun!” 

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