Briarcliff High School is known for its rigor, its challenging curriculum, and its emphasis on academics. Students here strive to be the best they can be in every aspect of school, whether it be in the classroom, on stage, or on the field. These three students at BHS have worked incredibly hard the past four years to become the best of the best. Valedictorian Matthew Tu, and Salutatorians Farhaanah Mohideen and Sajan Bar represent the best of Briarcliff; they challenge themselves with rigorous courses, devote themselves to the community, and contribute so much to our high school and town.
Valedictorian Matt Tu is the textbook-definition of a well-rounded, hard-working, and involved student. A virtuosic musician, talented math and science student, and gifted athlete, Matt really does it all. As Matt puts it, “It feels great being recognized for my four years of hard work in the classroom! However, grades aside, I’m also proud of how much I grew as a person. I couldn’t be happier!” Matt participates in Chemistry Club (a passion of his), Academic Challenge, Mathletes, Yearbook, and Mock Trial. He also swims on a club team outside of school and is an incredible pianist and tuba player. Matt shared that he would like to thank his teachers for supporting and challenging him, and his family for providing a supportive environment for him. He also admits that Dr. Saar has had a large influence on him and his interests, “I’ve looked up to Dr. Saar since freshman year. His chemistry classes were super challenging, but they taught me how to problem solve and think outside of the box. He introduced me to the exciting world of science and how it can inspire young students. I hope to share that love of science with other people in the future.” As for college, he plans on focusing in the STEM field, possibly neuroscience and/or computer science. He has contributed so much to our school and will definitely have an impact that extends far outside Briarcliff in college and beyond.
An incredible artist, writer, student, and fan of coffee, Farhaanah Mohideen is well deserving of the salutatorian award. She participates in mock trial, is the Editor-in-Chief of Briars & Ivy, is a member of the Art NHS, and enjoys painting in her free time. She is constantly giving back to the community through volunteering at her local mosque and leading community service work at a women’s group there. “It’s an honor to be in such an amazing group with Matt and Sajan. I feel so fortunate to have had such amazing teachers motivating me along the way. I would like to thank my family, and all the teachers I’ve had the honor of getting to know and be inspired by who have helped me to actually enjoy learning which is something I really appreciate.” In terms of advice, Farhaanah suggests managing time well, and that coffee has been a good friend of hers since junior year. When asked how her friends would describe her using three words, she said “adequate at bowling” (although others would choose the words creative, thoughtful, and compassionate). She has been accepted to the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania and plans on being on the pre-med track.
After taking an early retirement from soccer after sophomore year, Salutatorian Sajan Bar has ascended to the top of his class. “It’s an honor to be one of the top three students in my grade; I never thought I would be at the same level as Matt and Farhaanah in any type of academic environment, and I’m happy that my work in and out of school has been validated.” In addition to excelling in the classroom, Sajan is a talented musician (playing both the trumpet in the high school band and the tabla, an Indian drum), and is dedicated to fostering an academic environment at BHS through his work as the National Honor Society co-president, in addition to his work as a Taekwondo instructor for 4 to 6-year olds for their “Dragons” program. “I would like to thank my parents for never doubting me and always working with me to reach my potential, my sisters for always supporting my goals and pushing me to be my best, and my friends for always making me laugh and keeping me sane throughout high school. I also want to give a shout-out to B.”
Sajan also added that two classes have been very influential for him: AP Chemistry with Dr. Saar and AP Physics I with Dr. Shen. “AP Chem was challenging, but I always had a good time, and Dr. Saar always looked out for everyone in the class,” said Bar. “Dr. Shen smiles every day and wants everyone to learn and truly love physics. It helped me narrow down what I’m hoping to study in the future. Dr. Shen is kind-hearted, and I can tell she truly wants what is best for her students.”