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Meet the Best and Brightest class of 2021

PennLive.com logo PennLive.com 5/21/2021 Deb Kiner, pennlive.com

Since 1993, The Patriot-News and PennLive have been honoring high school seniors with the Best and Brightest award.

Students nominate themselves with an application, essay, letters of recommendation and details about their academic successes, extracurricular activity and service to their school and community.

Eligible students included seniors with at least a B or 3.0 grade point average attending school in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. Students are asked to talk about any challenges they have faced and overcome.

This year we received 173 applications.

The application and judging process for 2021 was done online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two groups of independent judges evaluated the applications.

We also had to forgo one of the highlights of Best and Brightest - having our award-winning photographers take portraits of the winners. Instead, the students were asked to submit photos of themselves.

On May 20, PennLive celebrated the award winners with a virtual program on Facebook and YouTube. The winners will receive a gift card.

Our guest speaker for the celebration was Gisele Fetterman, second lady of Pennsylvania. She also served as a judge in the final round.

Here are the students named the PennLive/Patriot-News Best and Brightest of 2021:

Radwan Azim

School: Central Dauphin East High School

Parents: Muhammed Azim and Miahghani Nahar

In his words: “One day, I started watching C-SPAN daily with my father out of curiosity. I was mesmerized by the passionate discourse during debate sessions. Ultimately, I began to follow politics for the disputes between parties and compromises that came out of them. I wanted to become a catalyst for change like those I watched on C-SPAN. This led me to join the club which changed my life: Youth and Government.

A club that simulates the branches of government inside Pennsylvania’s state capital, I began to engage in extensive research on political jargon and learned ways to improve my writing and debate. I also had the opportunity to write bills I felt should be implemented into legislation and had the opportunity to debate with various viewpoints from across the state. When I first gave a speech inside Pennsylvania’s authentic House Chambers, I realized that I truly did have the power to make an impact on the world. This program has allowed me to find and grow my profound interest in public policy.

Being so close to Pennsylvania’s capital, I slowly began to realize the corruption that happens in daily life. Topics like criminal justice, healthcare, discrimination, and other important issues continue to be minimized by our state legislature. Often, the government overlooks the public’s opinions and makes decisions merely for their own political agenda. Upon observing these issues, I have set one goal for myself: to become a servant leader of this nation.”

In their words: “Along with Radwan’s desire for growth as a student, he brings laughter, lightheartedness, and sincerity to the classroom. He allows himself the flexibility to laugh along with his classmates, not taking life too seriously, despite his passion for class and self-improvement.” … “Radwan’s experiences through Youth and Government have ignited a passion for change and progress that will undoubtedly continue throughout his life. What once sparked him as curious drama has grown into a desire to transform society through one shared experience, one policy, one insight into his own childhood experiences in an immigrant family at a time.” – Sarah Dressler, Junior Honors English teacher, Central Dauphin East High School

Honors: YMCA CONA delegate, PMEA District 7 and Central Regional Orchestra violist, PMEA District 7 Band trumpet, Questbridge National College Match finalist, Quest for Excellence USA Award-Pa., Questbridge College Prep Scholar, Gates Scholarship semifinalist, Jack Kent Cook Scholarship semifinalist, AP Scholar with Honors, National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

Activities: YMCA Youth and Government; marching band head drum major and section leader; Model United Nations; president of FBLA; wind ensemble/select orchestra, viola and trumpet principal chair and section leader; musical theater; Tri-M Music Honor Society, treasurer and historian; varsity tennis; and SpongeBob Instagram meme page creator and administrator.

Mentor: Curtis Glidewell, Central Dauphin East High band director

Plans: He will attend the University of Pennsylvania to major in philosophy, politics and economics.

Nyla Buie

School: Cedar Crest High School

Parents: Raschard Buie and Amanda Davis-Buie

In her words: “Volunteering has allowed me to make a difference in my community. This past year I had an experience with a student in the middle school tutoring program that I will always cherish. I was matched with a student struggling in science, whom I quickly realized was not lacking intellectual ability, but instead was lacking support at home. He was not putting any effort forward because even if he did, who would care? Every day after school, he greeted me with a smile. We worked through ecosystems, cell theory and talked through concepts until he understood.

As his grades improved, so did his outlook on school. Through this experience, I realized the magnitude of the impact I am capable of having on someone else’s life. As his love for learning grew, so did my passion for helping others. My involvement in the volunteer community has helped me grow as a person and develop a deeper understanding of patience and empathy. I plan to take what I have learned from my experience and us it to make a difference at my future university, and positively impact the community in all that I do.”

In their words: “I believe that Nyla possesses many character traits that represent the ideal for scholarship recipients; among them are respect, responsibility, caring, actions, acceptance, citizenship, trustworthiness, honesty, and empathy. … I have known Nyla since childhood, having attended congregation with and served as a pastor for her family for nearly two decades. As such, I have had the opportunity to proudly witness Nyla’s growth into the mature young woman she is.

In all my personal dealings with Nyla, she has demonstrated many admirable qualities including honesty, compassion, respect, empathy, friendliness, reliability, and optimism, among others. For example, I have had many occasions to see how she interacts with people of different age groups. She has been consistent in the loving manner in which she treats everyone. Her empathy is evident in the way she addresses and answers people, coupled with a genuine smile. She certainly has always interacted with me in a pleasant and respectful way. These are not simply words with which I am trying to impress. I’ve seen it time and again.” – Karlos DeToro, executive director of Teaching Hope Ministries

Honors: RIT Computing Medal Award, Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 First Team All Star volleyball, National Honor Society and AP Scholar Award.

Activities: Varsity volleyball captain, National Honor Society president, Big Star, middle school tutoring program, student ambassador, Key Club, track and field, prom committee, Aevidum Club and works part time at Giant Foods.

Mentor: Destiny Williams

Plans: She will attend UCLA majoring in human biology and society on the pre-med track.

Michael Cronin

School: Hershey High School

Parents: Art and Donna Cronin

In his words: “On August 25, 2004, six days after my 2nd birthday, I drowned in my backyard pool. I had been playing in the basement, got outside, and somehow climbed the 4-foot pool fence. I fell to the other side and stumbled into our family pool. From the kitchen window, my mom spotted me floating face-down, alone, and motionless. An ambulance brought me to the ER where I got a breathing tube, lots of other tubes, and in the PICU they induced a coma; the expectation was severe brain injury or death.

The Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) at Penn State Children’s Hospital greatly supported my treatment and recovery, including supplying the ventilators keeping me alive and the Nittany Lion stuffed animal decorating my bed. After my recovery, I became the 2004 CMN Miracle Child, participating in both the CMN Fashion Show and the CMN Annual Telethon. I did not realize it then, but I now understand that I am fortunate to be alive. I therefore have an incredible feeling of indebtedness to the CMN.

This fueled my efforts to organize a fundraiser on August 25, 2019, to commemorate 15 years since I drowned. The level of support from the community was humbling, as was the opportunity to meet and speak with the doctors who saved my life. With a hundred attendees at the live event and 95 online donations, we surpassed our fundraising goal of $15,000. … Although I was too young to remember when the CMN helped me, I am proud to support an organization that shares my concern for others and is capable of positively impacting the lives of the kids who need their support.”

In their words: “Michael is the type of student who is a pleasure to get to work with both inside and outside of the classroom. He approaches all that he does in life with the intellect, charisma, and passion that begs people to take notice and to appreciate when they get the opportunity to work with him. Michael impressed me as a freshman for his maturity and good-natured approach to his learning, and now as a senior, I have come to appreciate Michael on a deeper level for his insight and intellect that extends far beyond the traditional classroom walls.” – Erin Ives, English teacher, Hershey High School

Honors: National Merit Commended Student, AP Scholar with distinction, Pa Gifted Program, National Honor Society and Academic Achievement Award in AP physics.

Activities: Founder and president of HackHershey Club (www.hackhershey.com), class president, student council president, National Honor Society vice president, computer science intern at Country Meadows, Link Crew senior leader, mentor for Guys Out for Leadership Development, track and field, cross country, basketball, Joy of Sports Foundation volunteer, Hershey Food Bank Feed the Need Gala volunteer, Camp Can Do volunteer, part-time cafeteria service at Country Meadows and plays piano.

Mentor: Melissa Repsch, gifted support teacher, Derry Twp. School District

Plans: He will attend Duke University on a full scholarship to double major in computer science and public policy.

Noel Do

School: Central Dauphin High School

Parents: Phuc Do and Stephanie Van

In her words: “I am an Asian American in which my mother is half Vietnamese and Chinese, and my father is Vietnamese. Growing up in Harrisburg, I was always in the minority, especially in school. Consequently, I co-founded the East and South Asian Studies Club with the goal to educate students about the language and culture of various Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, India, and China.

This club was started in order to break down the stereotypes that many Americans had about Asia, and to expose individuals to the diversity within Asia in regards to the languages and cultures among the different countries. Growing up in this area as an Asian American was challenging as it is an area that is predominantly white. I was often bullied, stared, and hollered at for simply existing, looking different from the majority. Additionally, Asians were rarely represented in the media during my childhood; thus, I never had a proper outlet to turn towards during my most transformative years.

Hence, through the experiences I garnered from my multi-ethnic background, I gradually developed an open mind and appreciation for all cultures. I am constantly eager to learn more about different walks of life, fueling my passion to learn. My background has opened me to a world with no boundaries in regards to learning.”

In their words: “From the very beginning it was clear that Noel was mature beyond her years. She first attended lessons with her brother, whom she oversaw with great affection and kindness. She was, and has remained, unfailingly polite and cheerful. Noel possesses other qualities that indicate a fine character: she is self-driven, motivated, and holds high standards for herself. (Lest any of that makes her sound like a humorless grind, I hasten to add that she is relaxed, easy-going, and friendly. I have rarely, if ever, seen her without a smile. I suspect she has many friends.)

Never have I heard her complain, nor have I heard her speak unkindly of anyone. She is also a rare example - especially considering her age - of someone who is not bound up in the sort of toxic self-preoccupation that appears to characterize an alarming number of our species. As to her attributes as a student, they are everything a teacher could want: Noel asks good questions, listens attentively, is disciplined in her study habits, does not bridle at corrections, and is not satisfied with delivering anything that is less than her best.” – Katharine Rudolph, musician and educator

Honors: HMMS Friendship Festival soccer tournament first place, Outstanding Achievement Awards and National Honor Society.

Activities: Student council president, co-founder East & South Asian Studies Club, Harrisburg Community Girls Empowerment Club and organizer of Girls Love Mail, piano, Capital Area Soccer Association, Choir Select Ensemble, Penn State Hershey Medical PULSE program, Science Olympiad, Pre-Med Club, Key Club and student library aide.

Mentor: Alan Benson, biology, anatomy and physiology teacher, retired, Central Dauphin High School.

Plans: She will attend the University of Pittsburgh in the pre-dentistry program.

Ayden Fennen

School: Dover Area High School

Parents: John and Odessa Fennen

In his words: “Communities across the globe are often bound by a set of important ideals or elements of moral value. These ideals differ from group to group, but most of them share distinct similarities. Particularly, diversity, equity, and inclusion are examples of these ideals that can bring demographics together. Throughout my life, I’ve made a conscious effort to practice humanism. This wasn’t something driven by my own self-interest, but rather to benefit individuals in need of understanding of the burdens they have experienced.

It is not often that the average individual extends himself to serve a higher purpose. We as a collective usually fail to bridge the gap between our own self-absorbed ideas and those in need of attention. However, when we do, we improve our character and reputation unknowingly. Experiences like these have shaped me into the mindful individual I am today. When I served a purpose that extended beyond myself, my reward was greater than I had anticipated and gratifying for the community as well.”

In their words: “Ayden has excelled in his high school career. He is an outstanding student and an even better person. … Ayden is one of the most remarkable students I’ve had in 34 years of teaching. Ayden is a problem-solver and critical thinker. He wants to know why something occurs, not just if it will be on the test. His mathematical ability and his problem-solving persistence set him apart from other students.

However, the fact that Ayden will help other students with the material helps our classroom atmosphere as well as those students struggling with the material. While many seniors are thinking about taking it easy, Ayden has continued his pursuit of knowledge by taking challenging courses as electives. … His values and personal characteristics are highly commendable.” – Jeffrey Stover, math teacher, Dover Area High School

Honors: Soccer scholar/athlete award, National Honor Society.

Activities: National Honor Society secretary, student council, SkillsUSA, Link leader, Eagle ambassador, concert band, rocket club, homecoming court, certified soccer referee, American Red Cross lifeguard training and certification, co-captain of the varsity soccer team, track and field, swimming and diving, marching band, New Creation Community Church youth group, volunteer with Hunger Free York Food Bank, youth wrestling and algebra tutor, and works part-time at Green Valley Swimming Pool and Sports Club and Trail Nurseries.

Mentor: Matthew Spahr, teacher and soccer coach, Dover Area High School

Plans: He will attend Penn State University to major in aerospace engineering.

Caitlin Henry

School: Harrisburg Academy

Parents: Deryck and Mary Kate Henry

In her words: “For me, that bigger picture is music, a universal language and a vehicle that opens the door to dialogue. Whether through conversations with my grandfather about Glenn Gould (his favorite pianist) or Yuja Wang (mine), a spontaneous piano performance at a mall in Budapest on a school trip, or weekly visits to play the piano for residents of the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg, I connect and communicate with others over a shared love of music.

When a severe hand injury last year abruptly derailed my ability to play piano and violin, it was serendipitous that I was asked to guest conduct my school’s orchestra. This opportunity afforded me the ability to reflect and reevaluate my musical trajectory. There have been very few black, female conductors of classical music. In a field full of individuals who do not look the way I do, I strive to provide a fresh perspective and engage in a meaningful collaboration with both orchestra and audience.

When I stand on the podium, baton in hand, it is my hope that people are not distracted by my braids or the color of my skin and instead are simply moved by the music. I perform and direct to unify.”

In their words: “It is rare to work with a student as exemplar as Caitlin Henry in the educational field. She has the maturity that comes from hard-earned accomplishments, poise to share ideas and humor with maximum effectiveness, passion for knowledge, and intellect seen in the most effective leaders. In the 9 years that I have known her at Harrisburg Academy, she has grown from a bright and curious person into a driving force of our community, and a unifying figure among her peers.

Caitlin has the unique ability to exercise discernment in her leadership and scholarship – not seeking leadership or knowledge for the sake of reward or accolades. For Caitlin, her insatiable desire to learn comes from a curiosity about the world around her, and a passion to connect with people from all walks of life.” – Michael Gamon, fine and performing arts chairman, Harrisburg Academy, and professor of viola, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Honors: College Board National African American Recognition Program; Juilliard Intensive Piano program, Geneva, Switzerland; Tri-M Music Honor Society; and French Honor Society.

Activities: President and founding member of Sustainability Club; Harrisburg Youth Symphony Chamber Ensemble, piano and violin; vice president of FBLA; internship with John Garamendi, U.S. House of Representatives; Quiz Bowl/WGAL Brain Busters; Japanese independent study including two summers in Japan; president of Tri-M Music Honor Society; co-president French Honor Society; designed and created face mask extenders for staff at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; works part-time as a musician.

Mentor: Ya-Ting Chang, artist in residence and adjunct professor at Messiah University and Mendelssohn Piano Trio.

Plans: She will attend the University of Chicago to major in economics.

Akshaj “Akku” Kumar

School: Cumberland Valley High School

Parents: Manish and Vinayshree Kumar

In his words: “Many groups around the world are given disproportionately lower access to resources and privileges on the basis of skin color, race, or religion. However, there is one group of people that are almost always the minority, no matter where they live. Throughout history, in all different times and places, these people have been assumed to be unintelligent, problematic, and even a burden. These are people with special needs and disabilities.

After witnessing my cousin’s struggles with autism and how that prevented him from fitting into India’s ultra-competitive grade-culture, while simultaneously receiving virtually no resources or even sympathy for his mental health, I witnessed first-hand that special needs is a topic that is often looked over. My cousin has faced adversity through inherent biases in the Indian educational system. I wanted to work to break down these biases, albeit where I could really have an impact: Pennsylvania. …

A better society for me is one where we are not limited by pre-existing biases to shun those different from us. Spending a significant time with those with special needs has indeed shown me that we are only superficially different, and all it takes to connect is the compassion and care one garners through engagement and experience. There is much that still needs to be worked on in society as a whole, but for the future I can have the confidence to know that I will have the tools to help the people I encounter, especially those with special needs, thrive.”

In their words: “Akshaj is probably one of the best students I have ever had. He does extremely well academically, but his this for knowledge is like I have never seen before. When I am explaining something to him or we are analyzing something, you can see his mind moving to understand what is happening. Akshaj is also a highly decorated TSA member. He is a multi-time regional [and] state finalist. He has also been an officer for the chapter [and] region for the past two years.

Akshaj is involved with our honors pre-engineering program that follows Project Lead the Way Curriculum. He is one of our top performing students.” – Jason Kofmehl, technology and engineering education department chairman, Cumberland Valley High School

Honors: National Merit Scholarship winner, Pennsylvania Certificate of Merit for SAT score, AP Scholar, AP+ Project Lead the Way Achievement in Engineering, Technology Bowl regional winner, National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, World Language Honor Society and regional and district band selection.

Activities: Technology Student Association with first-place awards in the region three conference; boys’ volleyball; self-funded retail investing; developed Education Together free tutoring service; Patriot’s Club; symphonic winds, orchestra and jazz band; Key Club; FBLA; Ultimate Frisbee club president.

Mentor: Terry Ranck, volleyball coach

Plans: He will attend Texas A&M University on a full scholarship to study aerospace engineering.

Sydney Lim

School: Palmyra Area High School

Parents: Trey and Lida Lim

In her words: “In a society plagued with the pandemic and the rise of hate crimes, treating others with utmost respect, no matter any differences, is something I strongly promote. Knowing what I learned from being a member of the student council and other organizations, everyone spreading a little kindness everyday would give hope to others and improve the world immensely. This could be holding the door for someone, giving a compliment, or simply just sharing a smile to someone looking like they’re having a tough day.

I found a love in volunteering and helping others, and I will continue to give back to the community by assisting in shelters, signing petitions, and donating to charities. One day, I hope to promote the value of kindness and education in third world countries, specifically Cambodia.”

In their words: “Sydney is an exceptionally insightful and intellectually gifted student. She displays a keen intuition in class and approaches her work with a calm, quiet determination. Physics can be daunting but Sydney’s intellectual acuity allows her to understand complex ideas and apply difficult concepts with efficiency. Many students with such impressive abilities and to whom understanding comes so naturally can lack a strong work ethic. Sydney, however, possesses an inherent motivation and approaches her schoolwork with a genuine desire to learn and grow. She challenges herself and overcomes those challenges with undaunted enthusiasm and passion.

Furthermore, Sydney is one of the most thoughtful and well-intentioned students I have taught. I have yet to see or hear an unkind or disrespectful word or act from her. Because of her academic abilities, unrivaled work ethic, and kind, helpful demeanor, Sydney naturally becomes a leader in class. She is one of the most reliable students in the school.” – Nicolas Swartz, AP physics teacher, Palmyra Area High School

Honors: National Honor Society Leadership Award, 2020 Homecoming Queen, AP Scholar Award, Lebanon Valley College Honors Orchestra and LLMEA county orchestra.

Activities: STEM Club, school newspaper staff co-editor-in-chief, vice president of Student Council, president of class, Key Club, chamber orchestra violinist, counselor for Palmyra Middle School Outdoor Education program and works part time at Freshido Co.

Mentor: Andrew Kurtz, orchestra director, Palmyra Area School District

Plans: She will attend the University of Pennsylvania to major in economics.

Georgia Martin

School: Eastern Lebanon County High School

Parents: LeeVon and Jennifer Martin

In her words: “At a young age, I was diagnosed with a speech impediment. Thankfully, after two years of speech therapy, I was discharged from the program. And while today, I am able to correctly pronounce words, the impact of my diagnosis has lingered. Growing up, I was always quiet and shy around new people and seldom spoke up for myself. While I had my beliefs and could be opinionated, I rarely shared them with others. Instead, I relied on my mother’s more outgoing personality. Essentially, I was scared. But once I entered high school, I knew that I could not hide behind her. I needed to find my voice.

My junior year was a renaissance for me. As part of my AP United States Government and Politics course, I was required to complete a civil engagement project as part of new College Board guidelines. … As I grappled with options, I thought back to the Wreaths Across America ceremonies that I attended at Fort Indiantown Gap. They were always a somber yet somehow personally fulfilling day. And so I began the road to becoming the student coordinator for the inaugural Wreaths Across America ceremony at Covenant Greenwood Ebenezer Cemetery in Lebanon.”

In their words: “Georgia is one of those students a teacher will never forget. She has a passion for learning and a drive to succeed. She has a rigorous academic schedule and has completed several AP courses, which currently places her first in her class.

Although it is evident Georgia is determined to maintain an extremely high academic standard, she does find time to participate in many extracurricular activities. Most notably this year and last, she organized and carried out a Wreaths Across America campaign, which helped lay over 1,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves at Ebenezer Cemetery in Lebanon. … Her amazing creativity and her willingness to ‘think outside the box’ helped inspire others. I am convinced that she is someone who will make a significant contribution to our society.” – Holly Hartman, business/career educator/Raider MiniTHON adviser, ELCO High School

Honors: Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Award and first-place essay contest winner, AP Scholar Award, National Honor Society, French Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, LLMEA county and PMEA district band and Quill and Scroll Honor Society.

Activities: Wreaths Across America student coordinator, yearbook editor-in-chief, class president, RaiderTHON leadership team, tennis team captain and won the “nicest team award” at league playoffs, president National Honor Society, marching and concert bands, chorus, show choir, musical participant, Keystone Band of Rehrersburg, Freshman Forward leader, treasurer French Honor Society, president of Quill and Scroll Honor Society, ENN News Network morning show announcer and Generation Dance assistant.

Mentor: Charles Gerberich, math teacher, ELCO High School

Plans: She has received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy to major in aerospace engineering.

Conor Meise

School: Cocalico High School

Guardians: Travis and Jane Good

In his words: “The goal of many is to contribute to the benefit of society. Some people have different ways of thinking about this but personally I feel that I have done this through my efforts as a person and the ways I have succeeded throughout high school.

My family situation before high school was extremely discouraging and not the environment someone would expect a bright mind to emerge. However, as someone who has fought back the distractions of poor, past family experiences I have become an inspiration to others and an example to show other people that brokenness does not mean that they do not have the ability to succeed and cannot have value in their society.”

In their words: “Many students of this caliber find difficulty in communicating their knowledge with others but not Conor. He has developed leadership skills and shared his abilities by contributing to the Cocalico SD community by mentoring middle school students in Perennial Math, attending various math and science competitions and gifted seminars through IU 13 and was an active member of marching band, symphonic band, quiz bowl and is a talented piano player.

He is an active member of his church community and works part time at a local family owned and operated business. As a professional in the field of counseling for over 20 years it is rare to find the combination of academic promise and resiliency to the depth that Conor demonstrates. Conor Meise is the best and brightest student I have met.” – Michelle Shirey, Enrichment Coordinator Career Counselor, Cocalico School District

Honors: AP Scholar with Distinction, College Board National Recognition for excellence in academic achievement, first in his class, scored 5s on three AP courses and 4 on two AP courses.

Activities: Marching and symphonic bands, Quiz Bowl team captain, plays piano, mentors middle school students in Perennial Math and works part time at Hawk Valley Golf Course.

Mentor: Daniel Hogan, AP Calculus teacher, Cocalico High School

Plans: He will attend Geneva University to major in mathematics.

Jonathan Miller

School: Big Spring High School

Parents: Scott and Kelly Miller

In his words: “Dave Ramsey once said, ‘You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will forever control you.’ This quote is very powerful to me because I feel that in our society personal finance is not taught as much as it should be. Financial literacy is not the only reason why people struggle to be able to provide for their families, however, I feel that having the proper knowledge to gain control over your money is an asset.

During the pandemic, many people had problems paying their rent because they had not saved an emergency fund. I felt I had to do something about this problem. For the past three years, I have worked as a marketing intern for Belco Credit Union. In that time, I have helped 128 people obtain a Belco savings account. Even though I have been a marketer for most of my high school career, I have always had problems presenting in front of people. When I first saw the opening for the position, I thought there was no way I could do it with my public speaking skills. However, I realized that this was the perfect way to work on my presenting skills and overcome this problem. Fortunately, I was hired, and with the help of my boss, mentor, and my public speaking class I was able to stand up in front of two hundred freshmen students each year and give a presentation on Belco’s products and services. … Even if I make a difference in just one person’s financial life, I feel grateful for the opportunities I have been given to help others.”

In their words: “Jonathan is a hard-working, dedicated individual who has set himself apart through his character, achievements, and professionalism. He embraced the duties of his Belco internship not only as an opportunity to learn and grown his own skill set, but also to make a difference in his school district and the community.

In March of 2020, as COVID forced his school to close, Jonathan seized the chance to fulfill his internship requirements by working on a special financial education project. Working remotely with Belco staff, Jonathan was instrumental in creating a financial education program for Big Spring Middle School. The Financial Discovery program includes presentations and hands-on activities to introduce middle school students to age-appropriate financial concepts and lessons. This program will be launched when regular classes resume. Jonathan also assisted in creating a product/services video and researched and wrote blogs on financial topics for young adult. … In life we meet individuals who are destined to make a difference, Jonathan Miller is one of those individuals.” – Angela Barlup, Business Development Representative, Belco Community Credit Union

Honors: Student of the year and quarter honors, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society.

Activities: Class officer, vice president National Honor Society, school baseball and basketball teams, Aevidum mental health club and football student section leader, paid internship at Belco Community Credit Union and paid internship as assistant to the district account controller.

Mentor: Lisa Black, career coordinator at Big Spring High School

Plans: He will attend Shippensburg University’s Woods Honor College five-year MBA program.

Jennifer Nwokeji

School: Central Dauphin High School

Parents: John and Justina Nwokeji

In her words: “Throughout high school, I have worked in the Nzuko Ndigbo of Central Pennsylvania, a Nigerian cultural organization, to uplift the Nigerian community both in the diaspora and abroad in Africa. Simultaneously celebrating our Igbo culture in the United States while helping fellow Nigerian people across the Atlantic, the organization strengthens many aspects of our being. As a Youth Leader, I help coordinate cultural dancing performances that fundraise for the construction of schools in Nigeria. Since primary school children are highly susceptible to malaria, I hope that these contributions will aid in the reduction of the illness’s presence in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to my fundraising efforts, I hope to continue combating malaria with my scientific endeavors. As a researcher in the Summer Science Program in Biochemistry in 2020, I designed a novel pesticide for a fungus that destroys 30% of the world’s rice crops. That summer, I saw the immense impact science can have on major issues in the world as I researched to target global food insecurity. While my work did not focus on malaria, with the knowledge of biochemistry and drug design I gained, I am ready and excited to employ my scientific passion to affect an even wider scope of people in the future. Issues of global health are complex and difficult, but they are not insurmountable.”

In their words: “Jennifer is an exceptional student and individual who will meet and exceed the expectations of a challenging learning environment while continuing to serve others within her community. Jennifer is one of the most outstanding students I have had the honor to teach in my 21 years in the profession.

She exemplifies the highest of standards and integrity. Her pleasant personality, gentle mannerisms, and compassion for others are so refreshing. Her academic success speaks for itself; she is conscientious in all aspects of her work, has an exemplary work ethic, and consistently excels in academic performance. Jennifer is an outstanding student who has the strength, the drive, and the dedication to face the concerns of future generations. She demonstrates a focused determination, and leadership skills in all aspects of her life.” – Sandra Canning, teacher, Central Dauphin High School

Honors: National Merit Scholarship finalist, speaker at TEDxYouth@Crapabble Stem for a Social Cause, Summer Science Program Chambers scholar, Outstanding High School Chemistry student award from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Section of the American Chemical Society, National Honor Society, Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award, Penn State College of Medicine PULSE program, AP Scholar with distinction, Penn State Harrisburg Learn2Lead basketball camp MVP and honor award and Dauphin County Diversity Essay Contest winner.

Activities: Selected for the Summer Science Program in biochemistry international research program with MIT and Caltech; violinist with high school orchestra and symphonic orchestra, mentors elementary school violinists, youth leader with Nzuko Ndigbo of Central Pennsylvania Nigerian cultural organization, volunteer medical assistant at Jatto Internal Medicine, Key Club vice president, Quiz Bowl team captain, Pre-Med Club, volunteer with district Nutripack program, high school and Central Pa. Elite AAU travel team basketball, works part time as a tutor and front desk attendant at Kumon Learning Center.

Mentor: Dr. Claudette Jatto

Plans: She will attend Princeton University to major in molecular biology in the pre-med program.

Julia Raich

School: Camp Hill High School

Parents: Michael and Michelle Raich

In her words: “Two main aspects of my life that impacted me tremendously and fueled my passion to make a difference in my community and school are: my younger sister, Grace, and soccer. Grace influenced all aspects of my life. Born with heart defects and significant disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, and speech disorders, Grace is educated at home utilizing specialized schools and many therapists. Even though she has to work twice as hard to accomplish tasks that most take for granted, Grace is determined to succeed and, most importantly, without complaint. Unfortunately, her biggest challenge is inclusion in the community. This challenge inspired me to find ways to help Grace and others with disabilities to be meaningfully included. How could I accomplish this?

My life has revolved around soccer since I first took the field at four years old. My passion exponentially grew with increased dedication, hard work, and successes throughout the years. I learned invaluable life lessons including leadership (as captain of every team), teamwork, persistence, accountability, and communication. As a result, I became a role model for peers, younger students and athletes in the community. I found ways to impact lives through mentoring and coaching.

Most importantly, I discovered the answer to my question: I could help Grace and others be included in our community through sports. Any sport Grace tried, I coached. We have participated in Special Olympics soccer, basketball and TOPSoccer for years. I developed a passion for working with disabled individuals. This involvement, as well as my experiences with Grace, has taught more invaluable life lessons including compassion, determination and, most importantly, acceptance, which I try to demonstrate in all that I do.”

In their words: “Integrity, courage, enthusiasm, respect and empathy are all words that best describe characteristics of a great leader; they are also the words that describe Julia Raich. I have had the honor of being Julia’s high school athletic director for the past four years at Camp Hill and during that time, I have watched Julia grow into an incredible leader and role model.

Not only has Julia become a leader and role model for her high school team but she has also become a role model and leader in the Camp Hill community. There are numerous examples of how Julia has become a leader on the high school team but this past year during what has been one of the hardest fall seasons for all student athletes across the country Julia shined. … Julia leads by example in the classroom and on the field, which makes her one of the best examples of what the term student athlete truly means.” - Sarah Fanus, athletic director, Camp Hill High School

Honors: National Honor Society; Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth; World Language Honor Society; Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair Thomas M. McAuliffe Award and second place overall; All American, All Region and All State soccer honors; three time First Team All Mid-Penn Conference; three time Player of the Year, Mid-Penn Conference; and U.S. Youth Soccer National championships.

Activities: Soccer Olympic Development program, club soccer team captain, high school soccer team captain, Special Olympics volunteer, TOPSoccer volunteer, high school track, cross country and basketball, class council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, match club, newspaper club, student council and VolunTEEN, plays piano and ukulele, coaches youth soccer and tutors in math and science.

Mentor: Steve Snyder, club soccer coach

Plans: She will attend Penn State University to major in engineering science and play soccer.

Heather Rojas

School: Harrisburg High School, Cougar Academy

Parents: Hector Rojas and Sonia Leon

In her words: “From the beginning of my educational endeavors, I have been dedicated and hard-working, despite many obstacles I have faced. Throughout my teen-aged years I have endured depression, anxiety and anorexia. Because I was lacking self-confidence, I secluded myself and disconnected from my friends and family, and felt like my world existed inside a tiny, little box. I felt lonely and isolated. School was the only activity in which I felt successful and motivated. No matter what emotional and physical struggles I faced each day, school was a place where I could be myself and focus.

Due to my conditions, I was advised to enter therapy and see a doctor who specialized in eating disorders. While receiving therapy, I was in a relationship with one of my fellow students. … A year after the relationship began, I discovered, at the age of sixteen, I was going to become a mother. … I continued school my entire pregnancy with honors every semester, and within two months after giving birth, I was completely on pace.

These experiences have empowered me to be a voice in the Spanish community, advocating for others and using my story to encourage others as they face challenges in life that may seem insurmountable. … I have created a life goal to consistently exemplify that one’s success is not determined by the obstacles they face, but by how well they overcome them.”

In their words: “This year, Ms. Rojas is not only completing her credits for graduation, but has successfully completed 9 college credits in the fall of 2020 and is currently enrolled in 9 credits for the spring. I most admire that she is accomplishing her educational goals while caring for her daughter. In addition to her schoolwork, Heather has been an active volunteer at her church even during the pandemic. … I admire Ms. Rojas’ ability to stay focused through adversity in her life. She is kind, thoughtful, hard-working, reflective and determined. Heather is receptive to feedback and is always improving.

As her principal, I have watched Heather develop into a wonderful, respectable young lady who is not only an amazing role model for her young daughter but an example for her peers, specifically other teenage mothers. Heather Rojas has proven that one can achieve anything if you are persistent and hard-working.” - Marisol Craig, director of virtual learning, Harrisburg School District

Honors: Perfect attendance awards, Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.

Activities: Dual enrollment at HACC, Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteers at church, volunteers to help Spanish speakers study for the U.S. citizenship exam and translates catechism classes for church members.

Mentor: Stephanie Kohr, her Big Sister

Plans: She will continue to attend HACC then transfer to a four-year college to pursue a degree in nursing.

Claire Ryland

School: Hershey High School

Parents: Ken and Kathleen Ryland

In her words: “Becoming a service dog puppy raiser was the ideal community service project, combining my love of dogs and desire to positively impact others. I love her as my own, but we continue to train knowing the day is coming when I will make the heart wrenching sacrifice and surrender her to someone else. She has taught me to be more compassionate and accepting of those with disabilities, an awareness that will undoubtedly be an asset in my future career as a nurse. I admire the empathy she conveys to people who are physically, mentally, or emotionally hurting. Tiller instantly instills a sense of calming support with her gentleness.

She also gifts me a sense of confidence, affording me the courage to talk to new people or enter into unfamiliar situations, which is exactly her job when partnered with someone. Tiller and I serve as emissaries for SSD, and she is an automatic conversation starter. My work and experiences with Tiller has taught me a great deal about the hardships people endure and how these amazing animals not only affect the lives of those they are partnered with, but the lives of everyone around them.”

In their words: “Claire stands out among the top students I have encountered in my career, as she is hardworking, dedicated, and above most, kind. … In addition to her impressive swimming record and her outstanding GPA, Claire is also a committed member of the community. Her devotion to helping others and giving back to her community demonstrates her kindness and her feeling of social responsibility.

She manages her time in order to be able to participate in events, like swimming for Cancer Research and Awareness, to community clean-up, to collecting and delivering food to those less fortunate, because she feels the immense importance of using her privilege to aid those in need. Her passion extends to her athletics and to her community, which speaks volumes of her ability to not only multi-task, but to do good for whatever she finds herself a part of in the future. I firmly believe that Claire’s eagerness to be a part of something larger than herself will not end when she leaves Hershey, and that she will take that kindness into the world.

It is difficult to outline all of the qualities that make Claire deserving of recognition, and I want to reiterate that it is also difficult to think of someone more commendable and praiseworthy.” – Kimberly West, English teacher, Hershey High School

Honors: University of Connecticut Academic Excellence scholarship and swimming scholarship, National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All American, PennLive Girls’ Swimming All-Star Team, Mid-Penn Conference record holder, Mid-Penn Conference champion in individual and relay, PIAA state medalist and National Honor Society.

Activities: School swim team, Keystone Aquatics USA Swimming, Hershey Aquatic Club USA Swimming, Spanish Club, Susquehanna Service Dogs Keystone Human Services volunteer puppy raiser and summer camp volunteer, Horizon of Hope breast cancer fundraiser volunteer, Breaststroke for Breast Cancer Hershey Aquatic Club fundraiser volunteer, Ronald McDonald House volunteer, Cocoa Packs volunteer, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church volunteer, works part time as a lifeguard.

Mentor: Kimberly West, teacher, Hershey High School

Plans: She will attend the University of Connecticut to study nursing and swim.

Sammy Schwab

School: Central Dauphin High School

Parents: Dan and Patty Schwab

In his words: “I believe life is about taking action, particularly in terms of identifying what we have and using it to serve our communities, bringing value to the lives of others. At 13 I launched my online sports news show, Sammy’s Sports Kids Network. Though it struggled with 29 views in its first month, I was convinced of its potential. Over time, one successful effort led to another. I interviewed over 60 sports Hall of Famers, covered professional sports championships and most importantly, met countless individuals and organizations that created otherwise unlikely opportunities for me to make an impact.

In addition to being relentless with my sports show, in 5th grade, I began to tutor students at Melrose, an underserved local elementary school. After two years, I became frustrated with the lack of available resources and limited access to technology that was holding back students who deserved every opportunity.

Motivated to make a difference, I presented the concept of a STEM center to the principal, and after district approval, I raised funds, secured dedicated space, and collaborated on content. We launched a state-of-the-art STEM center that year, and I am proud to report over 4,000 students have been served through that center.

The STEM Center launch and the ensuing publicity it garnered led to a partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. We have since opened 58 STEM centers nationally that have collectively benefited over 100,000 students.”

In their words: “I’ve known Sammy ever since he was about 13 years old. I met him shortly after meeting his father at an event. I knew Sammy was a special guy from the moment I met him, and he has continued to blow me away as he’s grown into the man he is now.

His contributions to his school and community have been remarkable. He has helped thousands of underprivileged students through the STEM centers he’s built, and raised thousands of dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He’s also contributed to the greater good with his TedX Talks, demonstrating his intellectual promise in the process. Through his experiences, Sammy has developed into an exceptional leader. As a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and a captain of his basketball team, he has exhibited leadership through several different contexts.

But when you meet him, you realize that he’s not the type of leader who needs to be in your face and make his presence known. He’s the type of leader who listens first, and through his vibrant energy he makes his presence felt through the ways that he uplifts those around him. … I’m inspired by Sammy because everything he has done has been in service of something bigger than himself - to help create opportunities for people who come from less, and to be the best fellow member of the community that he can be.” – Kayvon Asemani, Best and Brightest 2014 and product manager at Facebook

Honors: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Regional finalist, Make-A-Wish student of the year in 2019, Xerox Innovation Awards student of the year from the University of Rochester, Triple Impact Award Scholarship finalist from the National Positive Coaching Alliance.

Activities: Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser, MAST Stem Center/Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation volunteer, founder and organizer of STEM Center locally that led to the creation of 58 centers nationwide, tennis team, founder of Sammy’s Sports Kids Network online sports show, basketball team captain, volunteer youth basketball coach, was featured on ESPN for Top Play of the Day for a ¾ court shot to win a game in 2020, Six Sigma Green Belt Certification, Coursera University of Pennsylvania Business Foundation courses, University of Pittsburgh College in High School courses works part time at the MAST STEM Center/Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Klutch Sports Group.

Mentor: Tina Thomas-Klotzbeecher, teacher of the gifted, Harrisburg School District

Plans: He will attend the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business majoring in management and entrepreneurship.

Timothy “Timmy” Seiferth

School: Red Land High School

Parents: Frederick and Jennifer Seiferth

In his words: “I find my identity in many different things. Some days, I see myself as a report card. Other days, my worth is measured in applause after a musical performance or numbers on a scoreboard. Most days, though, I form myself to the expectations and opinions of others.

Each of these false identities brings unhealthy stress and imbalance into my life. I grew up in a loving household with parents who taught me the importance of healthy relationships with God and with others. As I developed, though, my irrational self-images developed with me. Growing into a high-schooler, I felt a burden to start a Bible Club at my school. … If only I could have known how much Bible Club would grow me and impact others.

What started as a small group of friends with lessons on the Bible has evolved into fruitful examination of Scripture, sessions of experiential worship, and opportunities for true relationship. We meet weekly, encouraging each other through the difficulties and joys of life. … My true identity is found in service and encouragement. Learning this more every day, I now seek to improve others’ lives, yearning for deep relationships in all of my activities. I plan to take this outward-focused mindset along with the leadership skills Bible Club has taught me into a life of impact, whether as an engineer, psychiatrist, or pastor. Whatever I do, I will give my heart in service to others and God.”

In their words: “In 28 years of teaching, I have not ever seen a student inspire his classmates to shine. He does this simply, with an enthusiastic fist bump and a genuine smile. … With Timmy in class, the whole room was engaged, talking and thinking together. Around the room, enlightenments were happening with no matter what was thrown at them. When Timmy was out, however, it felt as if someone had sucked the air out of the room; they had lost their light and breath. Timmy was their antithesis of the ‘bad apple that spoils the bunch.’ He was the good apple that brightened their barrel. Timmy is 100% Everything. Though many students are ‘the total package’ and ‘have it all,’ Timmy outshines all. His superpower is the special ability to light up those with whom he comes into contact. It’s true, he is 100% everything. Yet, what makes him ‘one in a million’ is, at his core, Timmy Seiferth is 100% Charismatic, 100% Earnest, and 100% Love.” – D. Jeffrey Gonce, social studies department chairman, Red Land High School

Honors: National Merit Scholarship finalist, National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, county and district chorus and National Honor Society.

Activities: Founder of Bible Club at school; Faith Community Church of the West Shore worship leader and plays guitar and sings; track and field; president of the National Honor Society; school musicals; chorus, band, jazz band; plays guitar, saxophone, baritone saxophone and piano; and mentors at Medard’s House.

Mentor: Larry Kell, track coach at Red Land High School

Plans: He will attend Princeton University, majoring in engineering with a focus on psychology.

Kristian Sprankle

School: York Suburban High School

Parents: Billy and Alison Sprankle

In her words: “Community service has always been extremely important to me. I have always sought out opportunities to give back to the community that has given so much to me. While I am involved in several organizations in school, the cause closest to my heart is Curvy Girls, a peer-led support group for girls with scoliosis. After facing my own challenges with scoliosis I decided to use my experience to help other girls. I have served as the Chapter Leader of Curvy Girls in Hershey, PA for the last six years and it has been so rewarding.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was eight and I wore a back brace for a year and a half before I needed surgery. I had my first spinal fusion when I was eleven. … While my experience was not easy, I would not change a single thing because it brought me closer to my family, introduced me to so many new people, and provided the opportunity to turn a bad situation into something positive.

As the Hershey, PA Chapter Leader it is my responsibility to support and edify girls facing their own challenges with scoliosis. … I don’t know if I am making a difference in them, but I am certain that they are making a difference in me. Not only have I learned technical skills like marketing and organization but also the importance of compassion, communication, and camaraderie. I know I will carry all of these skills into my future classroom, family, and volunteer efforts.”

In their words: “Krissy is very hardworking and is a motivation and inspiration to other students. She is very popular among her fellow students and is intelligent, hardworking, and humble. She also possesses excellent leadership qualities.

Krissy has always had a selfless passion for being the first to step up to the plate to help run activities. I’ve known her since she was a little girl helping out with after-school activities such as the school’s Fall Festival, or running the backstage crew with many school productions. She has been an asset wherever and whenever she has been involved.

Lastly, and probably most impressively, are her amazing time management skills. Juggling her work at the Impact Foundation, a part-time job, and serving as a chair for YSHS Mini-THON for the Four Diamonds Fund, all the while maintaining her high academic success as a National Honor Society member, is an impressive feat at any age and show a level of organization and focus not mastered by many high school students.

Krissy is a rare and gifted scholar and has my strongest support. And she is an even better human being. Krissy really is one in a million.” – Gina Trimmer, The Impact Foundation chair

Honors: National Merit Scholarship commendation, National Honor Society and National English Honor Society

Activities: Pa. Chapter leader of Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group, chairwoman of Mini-Thon committee, Impact Foundation serving families in need, Link Crew, co-president of York Suburban’s Amnesty chapter, student council, treasurer of National Honor Society, works part time as a receptionist at Normandie Ridge Retirement Community

Mentor: Gina Trimmer, The Impact Foundation chair

Plans: She will attend East Stroudsburg University to major in mathematics and secondary education.

Emmalynn Varner

School: Manheim Central High School

Parents: Kevin and Shari Varner

In her words: “I have always had a passion for serving others, a desire that especially grew after participating in mission trips with my youth group. The first mission trip I helped on was to Catadupa, Jamaica, three days after I received second degree burns on my knee from a mild dirt bike crash, where we led Kid’s Clubs and helped with construction at a local school. For the second mission trip we traveled into Lancaster City where we helped rebuild condemned apartments during the COVID-19 pandemic. These opportunities inspired me to be a part of the Interact Service Club for all four years at Manheim Central High School where I joined the leadership team as a sophomore and was elected president as a senior. … The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of the club’s annual events but has also provided us with a unique opportunity to build the relationship between our service club and a local retirement community.

Pleasant View Retirement Community has had a relationship with the Interact Club for several years. … The pandemic caused the teacher advisors of Interact and me to get creative with serving the community since many of our annual events had to be canceled and the new ones we planned had to follow strict regulations. With the help of the activity coordinator at Pleasant View, Interact has been able to continue to foster our relationship with the retirement community, despite the social distancing.

My relationship with the residents of Pleasant View has been strengthened despite the mask over my face and the glass in front of theirs. This experience showed me that society becomes better when ideas become reality with the goal of bringing joy to others. People become more important than predicaments and joy becomes more contagious than their problems. My passion for serving exists because of the smiles that it brings to the faces of others.”

In their words: “Emmy has had great success both in the classroom and in her extra-curricular activities. Emmy’s academic success is proven by her invitation to and membership in not only the National Honor Society, but also the Honor Societies for Science, Social Studies, English, and Math. She is an outstanding student with a strong work ethic and varied interests.

She has been a positive influence on her peers and has consistently demonstrated respect for others and a willingness to help. She is an active member of the Science Olympiad Team/Science Club and Student Council. She is a leader in each of these organizations and has held various leadership positions in both. Emmy has also been involved in Interact Club, our school service organization, volunteering her time to help improve our community in many ways. In addition to these organizations, Emmy was a member of the marching band every year through high school, and she played tennis in grades 10-12. Her motivation, work ethic, and intelligence allow her to balance a successful academic career with her extra-curricular endeavors.

My recommendation for Emmalynn is offered without reservation. She is an excellent student with unlimited potential, and the work ethic to achieve great things in the future.” – Renee Kowalchik, chemistry teacher, Manheim Central High School

Honors: Science National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, tennis Coaches’ Award and Science Olympiad awards.

Activities: Marching band sideline percussion, Interact Service club, tennis team, Science Olympiad and Science Club, Worship Club co-leader, Mount Joy Mennonite Church youth group including mission trips to Jamaica and Lancaster, student council, Quiz Bowl, vice president of National Honor Society and works part time at Weis Markets.

Mentor: John Brackbill, marching band director, Manheim Central High School

Plans: She will attend Messiah University to major in early childhood education.

Zachary Yaninek

School: Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School

Parents: John and Kathleen Yaninek

In his words: “By volunteering with my figure skating clubs, I help not only those organizations, but also future competitive and recreational skaters.

I also helped myself through these volunteer experiences. I have been inspired especially by the physically and mentally challenged skaters and their determination to master figure skating elements despite the obstacles that stand in their way. They are not afraid to fall, and, more importantly, they are eager to get up after a fall. I have adopted their outlook to help me overcome the debilitating self-doubt I sometimes face before an important skating competition.

I have learned that it is through our failures – our ‘falls’ – that we build resilience. How a person ‘gets up’ is a sign of character.

I plan to continue to judge, teach, and coach figure skating. I look forward to an opportunity to coach therapeutic skating, specifically designed for those with mental and physical challenges. In this way I can help those individuals learn some of the useful lessons that sport can teach us.”

In their words: “Zachary’s focus, drive, determination, sacrifice and professionalism are unlike that of any student I have encountered. He is industrious, committed and expertly balances his rigorous training program on the ice with challenging academic and artistic courses. Zachary is extraordinarily disciplined and is very well-liked by our diverse student body. He leads without being bossy, collaborates with controlling, and cooperates by listening, digesting and suggesting. He competes at the national and international levels of figure skating with humility. As his medals and trophies accumulate, he attends school unpretentiously.

He is approachable, has a great sense of humor and is a trustworthy, reliable, and exceptional student. … He is ranked number one in his graduating class and holds our school’s record for highest SAT score. … He has the potential, intelligence and motivation to achieve great objectives in life.” – Christine Baker, school counselor, Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School

Honors: U.S. Figure Skating National Development Team, national silver medalist, U.S. Figure Skating Scholastic Honors Team, National Honor Society, National Honor Society for Dance Arts, Central Pa. Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar Ambassador.

Activities: Figure skating singles and pairs, U.S. Figure Skating National Development Team, national and international level competitor, tutor in French language and African culture, president of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, swim team, president of National Honor Society, tutors younger brother with ADHD and teaches sister ice skating, figure skating junior judge and coach, volunteer and coach for therapeutic skating, works part time as a U.S. hockey officials for the Delaware Valley Hockey League.

Mentor: Kimberly Dickerson, math teacher, Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School

Plans: He will attend Princeton University to major in neuroscience and figure skate.

You can watch the online celebration here:

The SEMIFINALISTS for Best and Brightest were:

Priya Acharya – Cumberland Valley High School

Michael Adelanwa – Harrisburg High School, SciTech Campus

Ishana Bandyopadhyay – Central Dauphin High School

Delaney Bellis – Millersburg Area High School

Dylin Bellis – Millersburg Area High School

Makayla Blough – Red Land High School

Justin Bodle – Trinity High School

Jane Bowen – Manheim Twp. High School

Lilly Boyer – Upper Dauphin Area High School

Karina Chima – Cedar Cliff High School

Caiden Covell – Lower Dauphin High School

Accalia Decker – West Perry High School

Allison Delozier – Cedar Cliff High School

Brooke Delp – Dover Area High School

Ish-ma-el Finley Jr. – Harrisburg High School, SciTech Campus

Keegan Fobes – Dover Area High School

Gabriella Frye – Susquehanna Twp. High School

Grace Ginder – Eastern Lebanon County High School

Billal Gomma – Manheim Twp. High School

Caleb Gonder – Williams Valley High School

Celeste Guerrero – Milton Hershey School

Trishella Hoopes – Pequea Valley High School

Chloe Hoover – West York Area High School

Amanda Horn – Northern High School

Teziah Asante Howard – Dover Area High School

Liana Howe – Lampeter-Strasburg High School

Meredith Iverson – James Buchanan High School

Madison Kirkwood – Greencastle-Antrim High School

Jacqueline Kiszka – West York Area High School

Serena Knauss – Halifax Area High School

Aaron Kolaric – Central Dauphin East High School

Alexa Kondas – Central Dauphin High School

Ethan Lee – York Suburban High School

Jocelyn Little – Camp Hill High School

Dev Lochan – Cumberland Valley High School

Matthew Lutkins – Camp Hill High School

Samantha MacMillan – Annville-Cleona Secondary School

Cheyenne Malarz – The Circle School

Trinity Marshall – Bishop McDevitt High School

Logan Martin – Garden Spot High School

Taegen McCoy – Northern High School

Colin McDonald – Lampeter-Strasburg High School

Autumn Moore – Newport, home-schooled

Ashley Morgan – Manheim Central High School

Emma Murphy – Central Dauphin High School

Ethan Mylin – Manheim Twp. High School

Anoushka Nambiar – Hershey High School

Eileen Nestor – Upper Dauphin Area High School

Derrik Nhin – Milton Hershey School

Madelyn Oates – East Pennsboro Area High School

Garrison Parthemore – Bishop McDevitt High School

Emma Sager – West York Area High School

Utisa Sanders – Milton Hershey School

Emily Shah – Susquenita High School

Mylee Smith – Solanco High School

Ella Swope – East Pennsboro Area High School

Abigail Tabachini – Northeastern High School

Tariq VonGetzie – Hershey High School

Alaina Zeager – Elizabethtown Area High School

Laura Zeigler – Heritage Christian Academy

The JUDGES

The preliminary round judges were retired and current educators - John Bricker, Sharon Caba, Susan Cohen, Takia Colston-Krow, Frank Flamini, Albert Parrillo, John Rubisch and Jill Sedor.

The final round judges were:

Susan Anthony - retired, The Patriot-News community service director

Robb Hanrahan - retired, CBS 21

Gisele Fetterman - second lady of Pennsylvania

Nate Gadsden - chaplain of UPMC West Shore Hospital

David Han - M.D., Professor of Surgery, Radiology and Engineering Design, and Trustee, Penn State University and father of 2020 Best and Brightest Abigail Han.

Gloria Vázquez Merrick - senior consultant, and executive director, Latino Hispanic American Community Center of the Greater Harrisburg Region

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