by Heather Colley
Elizabeth Silver and Zoe Kaplan are this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian at Sleepy Hollow High School, respectively. The Hudson Independent profiled the top two academic students in the school’s graduating class of 2016 to learn more about their high school experience, and their extensive plans for the future.
Q: Elizabeth, where will you be attending college next year and what are you planning on majoring in?
A: I will be attending the University of Connecticut on the pre-med track where I will be majoring in biology.
Q: How does it feel to be named this year’s valedictorian?
A: It truly is an honor to be named the valedictorian of Sleepy Hollow. I feel very proud, as this was a goal I had set for myself years ago. It is a very special feeling to be recognized for your work, and I am thankful for being presented with this honor.
Q: What message would you give to future graduates of Sleepy Hollow?
A: I would advise the graduating class of Sleepy Hollow to challenge yourself. Do not doubt your capabilities and knowledge; we have been prepared to face many challenges ahead of us, so rise above these obstacles to achieve your goals. To current and future Sleepy Hollow students, get involved! Find groups that you are interested in, whether it is clubs, sports, music, or anything else. Being part of a group that has a similar interest as you is really an enriching experience and allows you to relate to one another, forming friends that can understand your experiences and be a source of support.
Q: What will you remember most about Sleepy Hollow as you pursue higher education in the coming years?
A: One of the most special elements of Sleepy Hollow is the amazing community both inside and outside of the school. People are accepting of one another and embrace the diverse cultures and backgrounds of the student body. When one student achieves something great, the entire school feels a sense of pride. Even our annual Spirit Week is a testament to this sense of community. I am so grateful to have gone to school in such a welcoming and supportive environment and hope to carry what I’ve learned at Sleepy Hollow with me to college next year.
Q: What subject area did you prefer to study in high school, and will you pursue that interest in college?
A: Since I was young, I have always been drawn to the sciences. I loved how there was always more to learn and what I was taught in school could be applied to the real world. Whether it was learning in biology that thirst after eating salty foods is because cells have lost water, or in physics that birds on telephone wires don’t get electrocuted because there is no voltage difference, I could relate what I learned to what I saw in the world around me. I realized, too, the endless nature of what’s still unknown, and I was excited by the limitlessness of science.
Q: What are you most looking forward to as you get ready to begin your college experience?
A: I really look forward to broadening my horizons as I go to college. I want to take a well-rounded range of courses, concentrated in the sciences but also with other interesting classes that will allow me to think in different ways. I hope to study abroad and possibly minor in Spanish to gain a new appreciation for different cultures. And while intimidating, I also look forward to the independence of college and the new responsibilities I will have as I go out on my own.
Q: Zoe, what college will you be attending and what is your possible major?
I will be attending Wesleyan University in the fall. I love to write and read so I plan on majoring in English. However, that’s subject to change. It’s a common thing for Wesleyan students to double or triple major, so I would possibly do that with English and maybe theater and/or women’s studies.
Q: How does it feel to be named Sleepy Hollow’s salutatorian this year?
A: Receiving this honor is an amazing experience and opportunity. There are so many bright and talented students at Sleepy Hollow and I’m so fortunate to be named salutatorian.
Q: What message would you like to give to future graduates of Sleepy Hollow?
A: Sleepy Hollow is a special place. Ask any staff member and they’ll tell you the same. Cherish your years at Sleepy Hollow and take as many opportunities as you can. From academics to extracurriculars, there are so many options and numerous individuals who are more than excited to help you along your way.
Q: What will you remember most about Sleepy Hollow and your high school experience?
A: I’ll remember so many wonderful things about my years at Sleepy Hollow, but most specifically I think I’ll have the best memories of the sense of community. From AP Calculus BC class, to the Varsity Girls Tennis Team, to my theater family, to my feminism club group, Sleepy Hollow has been a place that embraces inclusiveness. Despite the great diversity we have, students and teachers alike get along and work together. I’ve loved spending the past four years in a place that has accepted me for who I am and has pushed me to be a better person.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most as you get ready to begin your college experience?
A: I’m so excited to get passionate about the things I truly love. With an open curriculum and heavy focus on extracurriculars, I’m ready to delve into all that Wesleyan has to offer. I plan on taking new and exciting classes while getting deep into subject areas I’ve always loved. I’m also looking forward to getting involved outside the classroom, specifically in theater and vocal performance.
Q: What was your favorite subject area in high school, and will you pursue that interest in college?
A: The reason I’ve loved English since I could form words, and the reason I still do, is because studying English involves learning about an infinite number of skills that help me in other subjects. In chemistry I have to write out detailed abstracts with endless amounts of information; in calculus I write explanations to problems, outlining theories to help others understand my answer. I hope to continue to study the way English helps to connect us to other subjects, others around us, and our world.