by Julia Ann Friedman
Diego Arias will finish his high school career at the top of his class, having come a long way from where he started. His family came to the United States from Uruguay when Arias was six years old, and the only English he spoke was “hello.”
In a third-grade reading enrichment program, Arias recalled feeling very frustrated when his class was assigned to read a challenging book at home. The teacher told the students to seek help from their parents, but Arias did not have English-speaking parents who could help him. He remembers trying to read the book, and having the desire to improve his English, but struggling having to do it on his own.
So how did Arias get to where he is today? He explained that his parents constantly motivated him to work hard and do his best. What his parents value more than him getting into college or being valedictorian is that he has worked hard for everything he has and that he has never given up. Arias described himself as self-motivated, learning this
idea from his parents.
Arias’ hard work will pay off , as he will be attending Harvard University in the fall. He is unsure of what he will be studying, but nonetheless, he is extremely excited to go to college.
This year’s salutatorian, Sofia Guarnieri, reflected upon her high school experience,
extremely satisfied with the close-knit and spirited community at Sleepy Hollow High
School. Guarnieri admires the diversity at Sleepy Hollow, and enjoyed being a part of the
dual language program starting in kindergarten.
Even from a young age, Guarnieri recalled challenging herself academically, always taking
the hardest classes she could. She experienced moments of panic at the beginning of
each year, worrying that she would not be able to handle all of her schoolwork, but her
organization and dedication allowed her to manage her work and pass with flying colors.
Guarnieri said her motivation comes from herself, and that she always set high standards
and high expectations. Her parents also played a role in pushing her, but it was
mainly her personal drive that shaped her academic career. Surprisingly, it was never her
goal to be salutatorian, but she very much appreciates the honor and recognition that
comes along with it.
Guarnieri will be attending the University of Rochester in the fall, and will be majoring
in biomedical engineering.