Rye Neck High School seniors Allie Liebmann and Olivia Dunne – who have been close friends since kindergarten – have been named the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2018. Both accomplished students, who have worked incredibly hard throughout their high school career, said it was validating to receive the school’s top honors.
“This recognition certainly means a lot to me,” Dunne said. “Throughout high school, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into always doing my best. There were definitely points in high school when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do, but ultimately I think that working hard at so many different things was what made me successful.”
Dunne attributed her success to the support of her family, friends, classmates, teachers and coaches and described them as people who have challenged her and pushed her to become a better version of herself.
“Allie and I have been really close friends since kindergarten, and I definitely attribute a lot of my success to her,” Dunne added. “She is one of the most patient, generous, and kind people I have ever met, and spending so much time with her has had a tremendously positive influence on me. I love our friendly competition, and her support has played a huge role in my academic life.”
Liebmann also credited her friends’ and family’s support for giving her the opportunity to pursue her passions and praised Dunne for her constant support and friendship.
“My parents and teachers have always been there to help me with anything I needed, but it is really my friends who have had the most impact,” Liebmann said. “Olivia is a smart, amazingly hardworking, strong, talented person and I truly would not have been able to accomplish anywhere near as much in high school without her.”
Liebmann added that she was humbled to receive the recognition.
“I think being valedictorian is a reflection of my hard work, my love of learning and the support I’ve had throughout high school,” she said.
The soon-to-be graduates said if they could give any piece of advice to the incoming freshmen, it would be to pursue their passions, explore new opportunities, participate in extracurricular activities, take classes in subjects that interest them, but also do things that are completely out of their comfort zone.
“High school is a great time to find out more about the things you’re passionate about,” Dunne said. “Don’t be afraid to take challenging classes or classes that require a lot of work. Get involved, dedicate yourself to a few things you love, and do everything you can to expand on that passion.”
Dunne is a member of the Science Research Program at the high school and has competed at the Tri-County Science and Technology Fair since eighth grade. She is part of the Independent Learner Program, Italian Club, Mock Trial team and Student Senate, and has been class president for four years. She also gives back to the community by volunteering and giving pitching lessons to younger softball players. Dunne is a member of the varsity softball and varsity basketball teams. Liebmann is a member of the Mock Trial team, Spanish Club, Student Awareness Coalition, high school band and varsity field hockey team. She also gives back to her community by volunteering with the Midnight Run organization and tutoring younger students in math and chemistry.
In the fall, Dunne will attend the University of Chicago, where she plans to pursue her interests in molecular engineering and biological sciences. Liebmann will be attending Yale University, where she plans to further pursue her interests in math and science.