Mamaroneck High School announced last week that Catherine Gerkis will be the valedictorian for the class of 2010, and Natalie Diacovo will be salutatorian. The two, who have both maintained un-weighted grade point averages of 97, were told of their honors in a surprise meeting called by MHS Principal Dr. Mark Orfinger and their guidance counselors.
Catherine, who will attend Williams College in the fall, and Natalie, who will head to Columbia, both expressed excitement about receiving the honors and looked forward to delivering speeches at their June graduation. They also shared relief, like many other seniors, that AP exams are over and they are able to enjoy time with friends during the last few weeks of high school.
“Catherine is truly a rarity who just seems to do it all so naturally and with joy, thoughtfulness and calm efficiency. She is an accomplished musician, an exceptional thinker, articulate and one who goes far beyond the usual expectations in every academic area,” said Bob Sweeney, Catherine’s guidance counselor. “Beyond her academic record, including outstanding SAT scores, perfect 5s on two AP exams and an extraordinary list of accomplishments, she does it all with passion and energy.”
For Catherine, two highlights of her MHS education include having served as editor of the school newspaper, a real labor of love since 9th grade, and her musical development as a flutist in the school band. Her Greek heritage is also important. She studied Greek from age 4 until 8th grade, when she took the state regents exam. Both her knowledge of the language and strong connection to the Greek Orthodox Church have been an integral part of her education to date.
“As of now, I think I’d like to pursue the study of math and economics in college. Math has always been my favorite subject, and I wrote my main college essay on my love of math and The Phantom Tollbooth,” said Catherine, who was the recipient of the BC Calculus Award at last week’s awards ceremony. “I became interested in economics after enrolling in a class at Columbia University two summers ago. This year, I took AP Macro and participated in the High School Fed Challenge. The macro teacher, Mr. Sobel, held an in-class competition, and my team won and went on to present at the New York Fed. My teammates, four boys, and I completely immersed ourselves in the project for a few weeks. It was an invaluable experience.”
Natalie’s guidance counselor, Jamie Holzer, had equal praise for the salutatorian’s achievements. “Natalie is the complete package! She has savored the best of what MHS could offer to her. In addition to her outstanding academic record, Natalie has built on her talents and passions in art, choir, and science research over the past four years. She has even found time to run track. I have been so impressed with her in every regard.”
According to Ms. Holzer, Natalie’s motivation stems from a genuine interest in learning that goes well beyond the quest for high grades and accolades. She is passionate about her involvement in the Original Science Research program and has spent the last two summers, in addition to Sundays during the school year, working with her mentor, who (happens to be her dad) in the science labs at Columbia University researching effective treatments for arthritis. Her interactions with technicians and her independence in conducting research have given her real-world experiences for applying her knowledge.
Natalie’s artistic talents include being an exceptional pianist, having a beautiful voice (she was selected to perform for NYSSMA and Area All-State and is a member of the Swing Choir and The Sound, an A Cappella performance group) and being an accomplished artist, with many of her pieces having been selected for school art shows open to the public.
Debbie Manetta is public information officer for the Mamaroneck Schools.