Introducing the Top 25 from the Monroe-Woodbury Class of 2017


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  • Jahnee Armstead




  • Kellie Baer




  • Valedictorian Polina Chizhov




  • Brian Conlon




  • Mia Cruceta




  • Stephen Cucuzza




  • Willow Duffell




  • Salutatorian Katharine Edel




  • Samuel Fisher




  • Colin Gordon




  • Abagaile Kimbrell




  • Jennifer Lawson




  • Winnie Li




  • Anthony Makashov




  • Courtney McPheter




  • Alexandra Molino




  • Tara Moran




  • John Mullan




  • Paul Nugent




  • Kathleen O’Brien




  • Ashna Patel




  • Brian Phelan




  • Sophia Quintana




  • Tyler Schacher




  • Jamie Struhar




  • Cory Vogel




  • Christine Wang



Editor’s Note: This year, the Top 25 is presented alphabetically and without class rankings or GPAs - as has been past practice since this feature has run every year - because school officials wanted to stop defining students simply as numbers and instead consider a broader definition of what it means to be a top student at Monroe-Woodbury High School.

Note: Your eyes do not deceive you. There’s actually 27 students who are part of the Top 25 ranking because of identical GPAs.

— Looking for role models for your children? Look no further than the Monroe-Woodbury High School Class of 2017’s Top 25. These students epitomize academic excellence combined with school and community involvement. Parents routinely tell The Photo News they share the successes of the Top 25 with their children in the hope of inspiring them to do their very best in school. And we’re happy to share their successes with you.

With graduation only a week away, take a look at all these students have accomplished which contribute to their Top 25 achievement.

Congratulations and best wishes to them.

Jahnee ArmsteadArmstead will attend the University of Chicago in the fall and is going to double major in engineering and astrophysics. Her school activities include the History Club, Pendragon. JV tennis, National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. She’s also been an assistant teacher for the Kids of the Kingdom Sunday School Program at Calvary Assembly of God and a radio commentator for the “Garden of the Child” on radio station WTBQ.

Kellie BaerBaer will attend Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham. She is majoring in environmental science and ecology with a minor in theater. Her school activities include the Italian Honor Society, Drama Club and Voice Ensemble. She volunteered with St. Anastasia Church and three Souza Scholarship productions.

Valedictorian Polina ChizhovChizhov is taking a year off before attending college to work, volunteer and travel. She applied for an ecological and sustainable design program that will start in the fall for a semester. Chizhov will be traveling out west and possibly across seas during her gap year. Her goals are to get experience in environmental and industrial design before she studies it in school. Chizhov is the vice president of the National Art Honor Society, treasurer of LEAD,, and a member of the National Honor Society and National French Honor Society. She was the sophomore class vice president and the junior class president. She is a senior art major and a member of the Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and the musical pit orchestra and has participated in the All-County and Area All-State Music Festivals as well as the NYSSMA solo festival. Chizhov was the district 18 Congressional Art Competition winner and the winner of the People’s Choice Award in the Orange County High School Arts Celebration. In addition, she volunteered as an assistant for the Grand Canyon Trust and as a counselor for Synergia Learning Ventures in Nevada City, California.

Brian ConlonConlon, an Eagle Scout, will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall, and he plans to major in chemical engineering. During his high school career, he earned 11 varsity letters while running cross country and track and field, completed two independent scientific experiments through the Scientific Research course, and won the Price Chopper Food Science award. He plays alto saxophone in symphonic, jazz and pep bands. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. He volunteer at St. Patrick’s Vacation Bible School for one week every year and is the school’s male OCIAA Scholar Athlete of the year.

Mia CrucetaCruceta will attend Binghamton University on a pre-health track, either pre-med or pre-physician’s assistant. During her high school career, she was a member of the National Honor Society and president of the Spanish National Honor Society. She is a member of LEAD, Interact, the Drama Club and STARS. She has been a church volunteer for Sunday school, was on the Junior Prom Committee and participated in missions trips and fund raisers such as the 30-Hour Famine.

Stephen CucuzzaCucuzza will attend the University of Miami, where he will major in biology. He volunteered 150 hours at Central Valley Elementary, was on the varsity swim team for five years, is a member of the Spanish Honor Society, and has played in orchestra for eight years.

Willow Duffell Duffell will attend Marist College as a biomedical major. Her high school activities include being a member of LEAD, the National Honor Society, Athletic Club and STARS. She’s played varsity soccer and basketball, was the 845 Varsity Player of the year.

Salutatorian Katharine EdelEdel will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She plans on majoring in mechanical engineering and possibly minoring in theatre. She is currently alto section leader of Voice Ensemble, president of Wind Ensemble, and treasurer of Spanish National Honor Society, as well as a member of National Honor Society and the Drama Club. She has participated in All-County, Area-All State and NYSSMA music festivals and studied dance at Terpsichore the Dancerschool in Monroe. Edel volunteers at Central Valley Elementary School throughout the school year, and for the past few summers she has volunteered at St. Patrick’s Vacation Bible School. She’s also performed in the Souza Scholarship fund raiser musical.

Samuel FisherFisher will attend Binghamton University in the fall. He has not yet decided on a major. During his high school career, he has been a member of the National Honor Society and chess and math teams.

Colin GordonGordon will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he will be studying mechanical engineering. During his high school career, he’s been a member of Interact, the Spanish Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the Wind Ensemble, where he has played the trumpet for the past three years . He’s a six year member of the Monroe-Woodbury tennis team and volunteers at Match Point Tennis in Goshen. He has also volunteered at the NYU environmental research facility for the last two years.

Abagaile KimbrellKimbrell will attend St. Thomas Aquinas College and will be majoring in chemistry. During her high school career, she has been a member of the marching bank, outdoor track and junior/senior cross country. She is involved in Irish dancing and is a Scholar Athlete, Athlete of the Week and Student Council secretary.

Jennifer LawsonLawson will attend Rowan University. During her high school career, she has played varsity softball and volleyball, is a member of STARS, the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. She is a peer tutor and scholar athlete. She’s also volunteered with the Crusaders travel softball league.

Winnie LiLi will attend SUNY Albany as a business major. During high school, Li has been a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and is a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship.

Anthony MakashovMakashov will be pursuing a doctor of pharmacy degree with a minor in French at the University of Rhode Island. During his high school career, he was president of the French Honor Society and LEAD, senator of the Class of 2017 Student Government, secretary of Spectrum Club and a member of the varsity tennis team. He volunteers at the Monroe Free Library as a teen volunteer and YAC Summer Day Camp as a camp counselor.

Courtney McPheterMcPheter will attend Villanova University to major in civil engineering. She is a member of the Drama Club, choir, the National Honor Society, LEAD, Interact and is vice president of the Italian Honor Society She is also a coach with Girls on the Run.

Alexandra MolinoMolino will attend Villanova University and majoring in mathematics and economics. She is a member of the varsity, JV and travel soccer team, played spring and indoor track, and is a member of the National Honor Society, Concert Chorus and Athletic Club. She volunteers in the VIP Soccer Club. She is former CIT at The Y Camp Discovery and is an AYSO referee.

Tara MoranMoran will attend Boston University’s College of Communications, majoring in public relations and hoping to either double major or minor in history. She is an officer of the Drama Club, co-editor of the school newspaper, is a member of STARS, the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. She volunteers with The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

John MullanMullan will attend Elmira College in the fall. He is undecided on a major, but will be playing on the men’s varsity soccer team. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, played varsity soccer, track and field and is a member of LEAD and the Concert Band. Additionally, he is a member of the Monroe-Woodbury United Soccer Club, Little League Baseball and Rec Basketball. He was also a scholar athlete for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Paul NugentNugent will attend Colgate University and plans to major in physics and music. During high school, he was a bass trombonist in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Pep Band as well as the Hudson Valley Youth Honors Band. He is treasurer of the Wind Ensemble, a bass vocalist in the Voice Ensemble and an area All-State Choir Member. He was a thrower on the varsity track and field team and a member of the varsity swim team. He’s a member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society and volunteers with St. Patrick’s Vacation Bible School. Nugent is also a lifeguard at Earl Reservoir.

Kathleen O’BrienO’Brien will attend SUNY Stony Brook.

Ashna PatelPatel will attend the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. She was accepted into a freshman-entry doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) program. During high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, STARS and Chamber Orchestra. She tutored young children at the YMCA Club Kid, and tutored middle school students in Spanish, English and math.

Brian PhelanPhelan, an Eagle Scout, will attend Northeastern University - D’Amore McKim School of Business Honors Program, studying either accounting or actuarial science. He is co-president of the Mock Trial Club, served as treasurer and public relations officer of Interact Club. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and STARS. He’s volunteered at Sacred Heart Church’s CCD program and Vacation Bible School and at Smith’s Clove Park’s YAC program.

Sophia QuintanaQuintana will attend the University of Connecticut as a nursing major. She is a member of LEAD, the Spanish Honor Society, and is a trainer for Monroe-Woodbury Pop Warner and Rockland Magic cheerleading. She is a varsity cheerleader and a member of the Cheerleading Club. She is an office assistant for the Mahwah, N.J., Fire Department.

Tyler SchacherSchacher will attend Fairleigh Dickinson University and pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy. He will be minoring in Spanish and music. He is president of the Mock Trial Club, National Honor Society and is vice president of the Spanish Honor Society. Additionally, Schacher is a member of the varsity tennis team, Wind Ensemble - where is a percussion section leader and secretary - jazz band, is All-State Tenor I and All-Easter Tenor I, and is a volunteer with the North Main Drama Club.

Jamie StruharStruhar will attend Quinnipiac University this fall as a physician assistant major. Struhar is captain of the varsity cross country team, member of the varsity indoor and outdoor track teams, Voice Ensemble, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and STARS, in addition to being an OCIAA scholar athlete. Struhar volunteers as a music instructor at St. Patrick’s Vacation Bible School and with Woodbury Community Ambulance.

Cory VogelVogel is attending Bentley University to study finance. Vogel volunteered with the non-profit organization called Coloring, was a member of Monroe-Woodbury Little League and is a member of the Chess team and French Honor Society.

Christine WangWang will be attending New York University and majoring in Mathematics. She is concertmistress of Chamber Orchestra, a member of the New York Youth Symphony, National Honor Society and volunteers at a local nursing home on Sundays.


























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