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Two RNHS Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Two RNHS Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists  thumbnail176535
Rye Neck High School seniors Caleb Alter and Gabe Miller have been named semifinalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program. They are among the top 16,000 high school students nationwide who were awarded the distinction by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Alter and Miller entered the academic competition as juniors along with more than 1.5 million students by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To become a finalist, the students must submit a detailed scholarship application, demonstrate an outstanding academic record and leadership abilities, write an essay and be endorsed by a high school official. About 90% of the semifinalists will advance to the next round, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.

According to its website, the National Merit Scholarship program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The program will award approximately 7,600 scholarships worth more than $30 million next spring. National Merit Scholarship finalists will be announced in February, while scholarship winners will be announced in the spring.

Rye Neck Students Return to School in a Hybrid Model

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Rye Neck Union Free School District welcomed its students back to school on Sept. 8 for the first day of the 2020-21 school year. Behind their masks, teachers warmly greeted each student who walked into their classrooms while the students adjusted to their new routines, which included wearing masks and getting their temperatures taken prior to entering the buildings.

As the students made their way down the hallways – marked with arrows directing traffic – they followed one-way lanes to their classrooms. While there were fewer students in the buildings and desks were spaced farther apart than usual to allow for proper social distancing, the opening days were filled with excitement. The students got to know their teachers, reconnect with classmates and engage in new learning opportunities.

“Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our administrators and teachers, the opening of school got off to a safe and positive start,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro said. “It was so nice to see children back in the buildings. Students were happy to be back in school and to be with their friends once again.”

Over the last few months, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Board of Education members, administrators and educators have been working diligently to prepare for the new school year and provide students with a safe environment and high-quality remote learning experiences. The district reopened with a hybrid model that split students into two cohorts, each attending school in person on alternating days.


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RNHS Class of 2020 Honored With Drive-In Commencement Ceremony

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Rye Neck High School celebrated the Class of 2020 with a special drive-in ceremony at Rye Playland on June 18. The socially distanced event featured remarks by valedictorian Grace West and salutatorian Heonjae Lee, as well as video presentations that looked back at some of the students’ most memorable experiences throughout their educational journey.

Principal Tina Wilson welcomed the guests and praised the students for their ability to persevere, and remain engaged and motivated despite being challenged – individually, as a family unit, as a school community and as a society – by the pandemic.

“While we might be separated by the metal and glass your cars are made of, I am beyond elated to be physically in the same location as all of you,” Wilson said. “Even with digital communication tools that have enabled us to remain connected, I am certain we all realized just how much we missed and craved face-to-face human interaction.”

As they move into the next phase of their lives, Wilson encouraged the students to embrace the positive rather than the negative aspects of any situation. She assured them they possess the necessary skills to successfully pivot in the face of future challenges.

In her remarks, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro reflected on the students’ creativity, generosity, strength of character and ability to confront each challenge with courage and flexibility.

“Your leadership has been evident during this pandemic,” she said. “Your outreach to help those in need, your support of our district’s younger students and your concern for one another have reinforced the uniqueness of your class, illustrating the power and strength of teamwork and collaboration.”

The graduates also heard from County Executive George Latimer and guest keynote speaker Ryan Pennell, a RNHS Class of 2010 graduate. During her valedictory address, West spoke about the power of gratitude and recognized the people in her life – parents, teachers, coaches, friends – who have inspired her and guided her throughout the years.

“Gratitude is an expression that allows you to recognize things that are good,” she said. “It’s a spotlight that shines on the people that inspire you. As we all go forth to the next chapter in our lives, take a second, a minute, an hour to think about the people that have made you who you are.”

In his salutatory address, Lee reflected on the value of community and their common experiences that have motivated them to pursue their goals. He also recognized his fellow classmates’ outstanding achievements – from taking Advanced Placement courses to delving into their interests, learning the value of teamwork through athletic competitions and games.

“We are a small class – Rye Neck’s smallest in several years – but our achievements are certainly not,” he said. “It has been my greatest honor and privilege to learn, explore and grow alongside my fellow graduates for the past 12 years at Rye Neck. My heart is so full.”

One by one, and after years of hard work and dedication, the students stepped out of their vehicles to take hold of their diplomas and take their first steps as Rye Neck High School alumni.