ISLIP TOWN

Meet this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians

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The Islip Bulletin asked local valedictorian and salutatorians about what has been most impactful to their senior year, one that has been carried out with the most unique setting and parameters, as well as what they’d like to accomplish by the age of 30 and to submit a picture that perfectly captured their high school experience.


Bay Shore

Julia Carpenter, valedictorian (Bay Shore High School)

GPA 104.40

Boston College

Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

My favorite teacher that I have had throughout my high school experience is my French teacher, Mr. Walsh. He really cares about each and every one of us and takes the time to check in with us when we seem off. What I have learned most from him is how to enjoy learning. French is really not the easiest language to learn and can be very stressful, but he always found ways for us to laugh and have fun while learning at the same time.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

The obvious answer as to why my graduating class is so unique is that we have spent an entire school year during a pandemic. But, I think what really makes us special are the strides we made in finding ourselves. We were all given an excess amount of times to reflect on our lives and make changes, or even stay the same if we were perfectly satisfied. I think that my class is special because of the bond we formed from sharing such an odd and life-changing experience that made us all come together and work to find ourselves.

What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30? 

By age 30, whether it's purely scientific or more on the activist side, I want to have contributed to the solution for fighting against climate change. I am unsure exactly now of the path I want to take to get to this goal, but the environment has been a passion of mine since I can remember and I have always known that this passion would lead me to helping change the world and even make it better.

Owen Gaskill, salutatorian (Bay Shore High School)

GPA 103.98

University of Pittsburgh

Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

Mr. Matt Pasca: Manuscripts don't burn.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

This graduating class, more than any other, knows to value the little things. Senior week, sports, prom—knowing these events aren't a given, we can appreciate them as the gifts they are.

What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30? 

I hope to have developed alternative methods of construction that phase out concrete and steel to lessen the carbon footprint of construction.

East Islip

Shannon Wodicka, valedictorian

Binghamton University

Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

My favorite teacher was one of my English teachers, Mrs. Hirsch. As a math and science kid, most people would probably expect me to pick a math or science teacher as my favorite teacher, but Mrs. Hirsch taught me that it's okay to do things that are outside my comfort zone and encouraged me to take a class that wouldn't come easy. She also taught me that it is okay to not be perfect in everything that I do. Mrs. Hirsch is also special to me because I've known her since seventh grade, and she has watched me grow up and knows me so well.

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

I think what makes my graduating class unique is that despite spending almost a whole year being separated, when we were able to all be together, it was like nothing had ever changed. We all had to think outside the box when it came to finding creative ways to do things together as a senior class. Fortunately for our class, as we get to the end of our senior year, the world seems to be opening back up and allowing us to get some of the traditions we have been looking forward to, such as prom and a senior barbecue.  We will appreciate these events so much more, knowing we came so close to missing out on them.

What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30? 

When I am 30, I hope to be a physician who treats all patients with compassion and respect. I hope to be able to make people's lives better by being able to help their loved ones. Everyone needs compassion in their life, and I hope to be able to provide that for my future patients.

Taylor Casali, salutatorian (East Islip High School)

GPA 108.22

Ohio State University

Who was your favorite teacher and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

My favorite teacher is Mr. Stapleton. Throughout the four years that I have attended East Islip High School, he has always been there to help me whenever I was in need. The most important thing that I learned from Mr. Stapleton is to always believe in yourself and your abilities. Anytime I have ever felt doubtful about myself, my grades, or my relationships with others, Mr. Stapleton was always there to reassure me to have faith in myself. He also emphasized that the most important takeaway from high school is not the material, but the lessons and advice teachers tell you, because that you will remember forever. 

What do you think makes your graduating class unique?

My graduating class is extremely unique in that we are the only class to have experienced over one and a half years of high school in a pandemic. My class persevered through the difficulties that the pandemic caused. Although our final two years in high school were different than every other year, we all made the best of it and battled the problems of the pandemic with EI Pride!

What impact would you like to have made on the world by age 30? 

I am choosing to major in biological sciences in college to eventually become a doctor. After seeing the whole medical community come together in the past year to fight the virus and develop a vaccine, I know I want to be a part of that community and change the world to fight the problems of the future. By age 30, I would like to have helped numerous patients and other doctors in researching diseases and viruses and helping those in need everywhere. 

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