Syosset High School is proud to announce that Yash Samantaray is the Class of 2017 valedictorian and Benjamin Rhee is the salutatorian.
“Yash and Ben are two exceptional students who we have already heard much about,” said Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante. “In addition to being at the top of their class, they are very involved in their respective extracurricular activities and both have received numerous accolades to date. I’m sure there will be more great things to come from both of them and I wish them continued success in the future.”
Yash plans to major in material science engineering and is awaiting word from Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale, among others. Ben will major in biosciences and has been accepted to Harvard but is waiting to hear from other colleges before making a commitment.
“It feels great! It was never a big goal of mine, it was never something I really believed I could achieve,” said Yash, who attributes his success to a strong work ethic instilled by his family. “Now that I am here, being named valedictorian is pretty amazing.”
“I’m really thankful that all of my hard work has paid off,” said Ben, whose attention to meeting his responsibilities on a day-to-day basis has been a big factor in his success. “Overall it feels wonderful receiving this honor.”
Yash is president of the high school Mathletes team, a three-time letter winner with both the varsity tennis and badminton teams and a violinist in the school’s chamber orchestra. Musically he is a New York State School Music Association Level 6 soloist, achieved All-County status and participated in the Long Island String Festival Association. He is also an executive board member and web designer for the National Honor Society. Among his many awards and accomplishments in the areas of math and science, Yash was an American Invitational Mathematics Exam qualifier, won gold and bronze medals at the Al Kalfus Long Island Math Fair, and was a semifinalist in both the Siemens Science Research competition and a prizewinning scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. He was also named a National Merit Finalist, National AP Scholar and Presidential Scholar candidate this year.
Ben serves as editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper “The Pulse,” is senior class treasurer and vice president of Model Congress. He has placed high in math and science competitions, including reaching the finals and semifinals in national Chemistry and Biology Olympiads respectively, along with being named a Regeneron prizewinning scholar and achieving multiple honors participating in Mathletes. Ben is also a violinist with the school’s chamber orchestra, has served as concertmaster, is the Chamber Music Club President and was selected for All-National and All-Eastern ensembles. Other musical honors include performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He also enjoys tennis, volleyball and ran winter track in his freshman year. He was named a National Merit Finalist and a National AP Scholar of Distinction.
Both students spend their free time volunteering in their community. Yash participates in Piano for Patients, a student-run charity that performs for senior citizens in nursing homes. Ben also volunteers at a local nursing facility as well as at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“Just a few days prior to being named this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, I had the pleasure of introducing Yash and Ben to our community and our Board of Education for their accomplishments in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, so it comes as no surprise that they are at the top of the Class of 2017,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers. “These are two exceptionally talented, well-rounded and extremely dedicated young men who serve as fine ambassadors to our school community. We are proud to have them represent Syosset.”
Yash and Ben are pictured being congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers and Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante.