Co-Valedictorians and Salutatorian — (left to right) Ms. Elliott, Nola Gordon, David Kim, and Marc Fishman. Photo by Rishab Bhatnagar
On Friday, Feb. 1, Principal Susan Elliott called seniors Nola Gordon, David Kim, and Marc Fishman to her office. All three knew that second quarter grades had just been submitted; nerves were running high.
Upon seeing each other, their suspicions were strengthened. Anxiety gave way to excitement, however, when Ms. Elliott congratulated them: Gordon and Kim were named co-valedictorians, and Fishman was named salutatorian.
Beyond their shared academic preeminence, Gordon, Kim, and Fishman differ sharply. Ms. Elliott said, “I think what’s so great about the three of them is that they are each devoted to excellence and passionate about learning, yet they represent such a broad range of interests. One of the best things about this school is that we have something for everyone, and they embody that.”
Gordon’s diverse interests span from art to Chinese. An avid reader, she often asks English teachers for book recommendations. She has taken Chinese classes from the China Institute and figure drawing classes at Cumberland Adult Learning Center. Gordon said, “I also cook, fiddle around on the piano, and sing.”
Kim, a physics fan, focuses more heavily on mathematic and scientific pursuits. He is co-captain of the Math Team and he participates in Science Bowl and Science Olympiad. Kim said, “What first drew me to math and science was understanding the problems. What kept me at it was the joy of being able to solve something after spending a lot of time and energy on it.”
Meanwhile, Fishman immerses himself in music. He is the principal first clarinet and treasurer of the chamber orchestra, he has played both piano and clarinet in the pit orchestra, he is the co-president of Music Community Outreach, and he attends the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division. “Music helps to balance the other academically challenging courses. It’s more relaxing and more fun,” Fishman said.
Despite their divergent backgrounds, Gordon, Kim and Fishman have all learned similar lessons. One skill they each stress is the ability to cooperate. Kim said that in activities like math team, “no matter how much you improve as an individual, if you can’t work with other people, there will be problems.”
Fishman echoed these sentiments. “As a member of an orchestra, it’s important to be cooperative and to listen to other people. It’s a group effort,” he said. “I learned how to work with other students and to collaborate with faculty members.”
They all credit their success to a combination of diligence and balance. Gordon said, “I think the trick to getting good grades is just getting your homework done, paying attention and taking good notes in class.”
Fishman added, “Work hard, but don’t kill yourself. There are more important things in life than grades. It’s important to have balance in your life, and everyone needs to take a break once in a while.”
Ms. Elliott said, “Nola, David and Marc each know how to follow different roads with devotion, dedication, and sense of doing it for all the right reasons. It’s so delightful to be able to honor students who are so authentic in their own pursuits.”