Two Yorktown High School seniors have been named as academic leaders for the class of 2012. Michael Beechert has been named Valedictorian; Julia Kelly has been named Salutatorian. “Both of these students have invested significant time and energy in achieving the highest levels of academic scholarship in the school,” declared Mr. Joseph DeGennaro, Principal. He added, “They serve as wonderful role models for other students.”
Valedictorian Michael Beechert has made the most of his time at Yorktown High School. He plays first trombone in the Jazz Band and is currently low brass section leader. He is a member of the Full Orchestra and was former secretary of the Wind Ensemble. He has been involved in the Science Olympiad and Envirothon teams, among other activities at Yorktown High. With three years invested, he is now a captain of the tennis team. He likes “history, math, and pretty much everything in between.” Other activities currently include the Honors Program at Westchester Community College, the Columbia University Science Honors Program on weekends, and an internship with State Senator Greg Ball. He loves being in the woods, and learned to hunt big game and turkey using both a bow and a rifle. Michael says he will miss most of the teachers he has had, the band program, and quite a few of his fellow students. He plans to go to college and then start his own company as an entrepreneur.
Salutatorian Julia Kelly is also a musician, as violinist and secretary of the YHS Concert Orchestra. She has played varsity soccer for three years and is a member of the Science Olympiad and Math Teams. She is currently taking AP Calculus BC and AP Physics, which happen to be her two favorite subjects, and what she plans to continue to study in college. In her free time she likes to read, play the piano, and spend time with friends and family. Julia also serves as a Youth Deacon and Sunday school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown. She says, “I have a wonderful older sister, Christine, and an awesome younger brother, Brian.”
As a student in the YHS science research program, she has also spent the last two summers performing research at New York Medical College. In 2010, she aimed to better understand the mechanisms behind Hypoxic Pulmonary Vasoconstriction in diseases like sleep apnea, pulmonary hypertension, and high altitude sickness. In March 2011, she presented this project at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) and won the “Future of Medicine” award presented by the Westchester Academy of Medicine. Her mentor was Mansoor Ahmad M.D. PhD. In 2011, she began a new project with mentor Dr. Shekhar Bakshi, researching the characteristics of bacteria Francisella tularensis, which has the potential to be used in terrorist attacks (using a nonvirulent strain).
Photos courtesy Yorktown High School