Tuxedo’s Top 10 prepare for future

The leading graduates credit their teachers and the size of the Tuxedo School District for their successes

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  • Valedictorian Madeline Doyle

  • 2. Salutatorian Isabel Miñano

  • 3. Matthew Willins

  • 4. Tara O’Dell

  • 5. Taylor Spivak

  • 6. Ron Juance

  • 7. Emma Meore

  • 8. Yannis Lymberis

  • 9. Kyla Dolan

  • 10. Harrison Fu

— It’s just weeks away from area high school graduations, with members of the Class of 2016 enjoying prom experiences, finalizing college acceptances and studying for final exams.

At George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo, the Class of 2016 is clearly smaller than other area high schools.

But don’t let numbers fool you.

Its students have the same dedication to academic success, honors and accolades, and fierce school loyalty and pride as do students in other districts.

Tuxedo’s students also proudly stress the school’s small size as a significant factor in their academic success.

Here are the reflections of the school’s Top 10 students when asked, “How has George F. Baker High School prepared you for your future?”

1. Valedictorian Madeline Doyle: 98.56 GPA
“Because of the size of this school, you’re encouraged to try new things that at a larger school, would be intimidating. I’ve become more of a leader because of this.”

Doyle is the president of the National Honor Society as well as co-president of Student Council, a member of Senior Council and a member of the school’s math team. She also participated in the Interact club and bowling club. She has been a member of the varsity volleyball and softball teams since freshmen year and was captain of both her senior year. Madeline was named MVP of the volleyball team during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, was a Times Warner Cable Scholar Athlete and received the Orange County Scholar-Athlete Award for her school. During her 2015 softball season, her team received the Bernie Berman Sportsmanship Award.

Doyle will graduate with a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Honors, with mastery in mathematics and science and is a 2016 recipient of New York State Education Department’s Academic Excellence Award.

She will attend Boston College in the fall.

2. Salutatorian Isabel Miñano: 96.52 GPA
“The small class sizes, but it’s more than just that. It’s school skills, it’s life skills, it’s individualized attention. Working hard got me to the top of this class. Teachers encouraged me to do that.”

Miñano played JV and Varsity volleyball and basketball for four years and was a captain for both of them. She also played on the varsity softball team for one year. She is the co-president of the Student Council and Senior Council. She is also the vice president of administration and treasurer for the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. Miñano volunteers in her school and community and tutored students in Geometry, Algebra 2/Trigonometry and Spanish.

This fall, Miñano will attend The King’s College in New York City where she was awarded its Presidential Scholarship. She plans on pursing a business degree.

3. Matthew Willins: 95.60 GPA
“This school has not only given me a great educational background, but a great social background. I will better connect with people in my future.”

Willins has been a part of the Engineering Club, Vocal Ensemble, Improv Club and JV and Varsity Soccer where he was a co-captain. This year, Willins was awarded the Orange County Scholar-Athlete Award, was recognized as a Senior Scholar Humanities Honoree and was awarded the American Legion School Award for high honors in courage, leadership, patriotism and service. He was also a lead in all five high school musicals, Music Man, Brigadoon, Guys & Dolls, Seussical and The Wizard of Oz. Outside of school, Willins was a member of OCMEA All-County Choir where he was a soloist and participated in NYSSMA. Willins has been an active in Tuxedo/Sloatsburg Boy Scout Troop 2146 for the past eight years and recently became an Eagle Scout.

He will attend Fairfield University this fall and plans to major in mechanical engineering and graduate with a management of technology (MOT) degree.

4. Tara O’Dell: 94.34 GPA
“I have very close relationships with my teachers. I’ve learned from their personal experiences. I feel like I’m ready for my future.”

O’Dell is vice president of service and secretary of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. She has played varsity volleyball and varsity softball and was chosen for the Varsity 845 All Star Second Team and Class D Coaches All Section First Team for volleyball. She has also participated in the Student Council, math team, yearbook club, bowling club, senior council and Interact club. O’Dell also participated in the school’s fall and spring productions this year. She has tutored both elementary and high school students and has completed 30 hours of volunteer work at Good Samaritan Hospital as well as serving as a volunteer counselor for the Tuxedo Recreation Program.

O’Dell will attend SUNY Plattsburgh’s Honors program as a nursing major.

5. Taylor Spivak: 94.08 GPA
“You get so much more attention from your teachers. Because it’s such a small school, you have so many opportunities for clubs and sports that get you out of your comfort zone.”

Taylor Spivak will graduate with a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Honors, with mastery in mathematics and science. Spivak has been involved in the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Interact Club, Safe School Ambassadors, basketball, bowling, the fall and spring productions and has been president of Tuxedo’s Math Team. She was on the cross country team and crew team since freshman year and was captain of both for the past two years.

Spivak is a 2016 recipient of the New York State Education Department’s Academic Excellence Award.

She will attend Colgate University this fall and plans to major in mathematics and eventually go into actuarial studies.

6. Ron Juance: 93.89 GPA
“It made me a better leader. Playing baseball, soccer and basketball, this has helped me to prepare to be a leader for the younger kids who look up to me.”

Juance is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society as its Supreme Chancellor, Student Council as its treasurer, Senior Council, Math Team and Bowling Club. He has also participated in sports throughout his high school career, including JV soccer, JV baseball, JV basketball, varsity soccer, varsity baseball and varsity basketball and has been the captain of all three sports at the JV and Varsity level his sophomore and senior years. Juance volunteered for the Haunted Hallways, as an assistant coach for modified basketball and at the third-sixth grade Pep Rally.

He will attend the University at Buffalo and plans on pursing a nursing degree.

7. Emma Meore: 92.82 GPA
“The school pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, to make new friends and connect with old friends who don’t go to this school.”

Meore is currently a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and volunteers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. She has been a part of the Interact Club, Band, Choir and Safe School Ambassadors. She played varsity volleyball, serving as captain her senior year, and junior varsity softball for three years. She made the All-State Fifth Team in volleyball her senior year. Meore will be making her second CYFM Mission trip this summer to Harlan County, Kentucky, where she will help rebuild houses in need of repair.

She will attend the University at Buffalo this fall and she plans to major in exercise science.

8. Yannis Lymberis: 91.62 GPA
“One teacher, Miss McGowan, she really sparked my interest in biology which helped me chose my pathway in college, which will be either pre-med or pre-vet.”

Lymberis is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. He participated in JV and Varsity soccer during his sophomore and senior years. Lymberis was a member of the Production Team and worked on the high school’s productions of Brigadoon, Guys and Dolls, Seussical and The Wizard of Oz. He is a member of the Greek Orthodox Youth Association (GOYA).

Lymberis will attend Manhattan College in the Bronx this fall.

9. Kyla Dolan: 90.70 GPA
“The small school environment allowed me to be creative and think outside the box. It pushed me to try new things I haven’t done before.”

Dolan is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, the varsity cross country team and has rowed crew for her entire high school career. She has also been involved in Interact Club and recently performed in the high school’s spring musical, The Wizard of Oz. Outside of school Dolan worked alongside the owner and head wine maker at Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery located in Gardiner.

She will be attending Washington State University in the fall and will major in Viticulture and Enology, which is the science, production and study of grapes and the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking.

10. Harrison Fu: 90.28 GPA
“They gave me the attention. There’s not a lot of people in this school so they truly focus on you. When I need help, they’re always there to help me.”

Fu volunteered at the Tuxedo Park Library for four years. He enjoys music and plays both the piano and the violin. Fu, an avid jogger, was a member of the school’s cross country team.

He will attend Bernard M. Baruch College of the City University of New York this fall. He plans to study either finance or accounting with the hope of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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