By Sean Fischer
Volume 69, Issue III
They led the Varsity Boys Soccer team closer to the New York State Championship than ever before in the team’s history. They won incredibly prestigious scientific awards at the regional and national levels. They took on too massive plays in one year and put on two historically great performances. Briarcliff High School’s Class of 2019 is pretty special: they continue to accomplish and achieve what others could only dream of, and their litany of accolades is too long to list. At the forefront of their grade’s and their overall school’s success this past year were Valedictorian Andrew Kanovsky, First Salutatorian Letitia Chan, and Second Salutatorian Isabella Wang, all of whom exemplify what it means to be a Briarcliff Bear: excelling in academics, in the arts, in athletics, and in our community.
“It is a great honor to be recognized with this award, but our grade is tremendously talented and intelligent as a whole, so I try not to let it define me, and instead try to treat it as one part of a greater legacy that I hope to leave at the school along with my peers,” said Kanovsky. All-star goalie, cello virtuoso, and afro-wearer, Andrew really does it all. He’s a two-season varsity athlete, and after leading VBS to states, he hopes that he’ll be able to achieve similar success with the lacrosse team this spring. He’s achieved equal levels of success in the classroom, citing his dad as his primary motivator. “As much as it sometimes pains me to say it, my father is the single greatest driving factor behind my success. His selfless and upstanding attitude, from coaching youth lacrosse teams to parenting me and my siblings alone, have helped shaped me outside the classroom and sports fields,” said Andrew. “Briarcliff has provided me with a fantastic network of teachers, coaches, and peers who have allowed me to grow as a complete individual. It is so easy to take for granted the resources available, but Briarcliff provides students with a situation where if you are willing to work, you can achieve just about any (reasonable) goals you set. I must say that I have never had a bad teacher at BHS. One of my favorite teachers would have to be Ms. Fishman, who is incredibly supportive both in the classroom, where she compels unenthusiastic seniors to complete their reading, as well as in dragging her own kids out for multiple hours in the freezing cold to support our sports teams. I also want to shout out my coaches within the school, Mr. Bordonaro and Mr. Meola.”
“I feel incredibly honored, blessed, and humbled [to be one of the Salutatorians]. I’m proud that my hard work paid off, but I know that so many people worked just as hard as I did. But if I’m going to be honest, I’m now a little concerned about this new reputation and also the speech-writing that lies ahead,” said Letitia. She’s a performing arts wizard who somehow manages to appear in the fall drama, spring musical, two dance concerts and a dance fundraiser, two chorus concerts, the MLK assembly and countless a-capella events each year all while still achieving ridiculously high levels of success in the classroom. She also cites BHS’s faculty with helping her along the way, “Every faculty member in Briarcliff genuinely wants every student to succeed. There’s open communication between students and teachers, which is important because then the teachers can help you on an individualized basis. Teachers, you are very much appreciated! The little things you do for us students do not go unnoticed! I’d like to thank my entire family for being there to cheer me on when I scream at half-written essays and impossible math questions, God for blessing me with this achievement, all my former and current teachers for tolerating me in class, my friends for their laughter while they struggled along with me, and of course, finally, I’d like to thank the Academy.” She especially enjoyed certain classes, that have both influenced her plans for college and beyond, “My favorite class was AP Chem, with AP Euro a close second. Both classes are taught by incredible teachers (shout out to Dr. Saar and Mrs. Carnahan), and much of the curriculum involved hands-on classwork, so classes were – dare I say – fun! Chem helped me figure out what I liked to learn about, while Euro taught me to synthesize and make connections outside of the box.”
“I was very surprised and very grateful [to be one of BHS’s salutatorians]. It inspires me to keep improving and moving forward; I’m still just as much a work in progress as anyone else,” said Isabella. She has achieved an incredible amount throughout her high school years, and quickly became prominent both on the Varsity Girls Swimming and Diving Team, as well as in the science research community. She won first place at the JSHS science fair for her project in behavior, and recently won WESEF AWARD. “[My favorite class has to be] Science Research. From breakfast parties to ‘Croctober’ parties, we’ve been through it all! I love the freedom I have with my topic, mentor, and project. It’s an amazing opportunity I haven’t encountered anywhere else I’ve lived, and I really appreciate the Briarcliff Science Research teachers Mr. Inglis, Mrs. O’Brien, and Mrs. Carnahan for making it a possibility.” While she plans on studying biomedical engineering and neuroscience in college, Isabella is also an incredibly talented writer, and relies on creative writing to help her relax and destress. She’d also like to thank her family and friends for supporting her in all she does, “Briarcliff is really unique out of all of the places I’ve been to because of the close friends I’ve made here. I’m really lucky to have met some of my closest friends at Briarcliff and I think we’ve made a lot of progress helping each other out. Also, the teachers and counselors at Briarcliff are all so passionate about what they do and are really invested in their students. I’ve learned so much from them, not just academically, so kudos to them for everything they do!”