By: Rebecca Kratz
Briarcliff High School Class of 2021 has undergone a challenging and unexpected senior year of high school. But as a whole students managed to continue to excel in academics, in athletics, in the arts, and in the BHS community. Leading their grade to success and given the highest academic awards are four students who stand out as being the best of the best because of all their hard work throughout their high school career. Those talented students are Valedictorian Aman Choudhri, Salutatorian Marlena Kuhn, Salutatorian Nancy Li, and Salutatorian Jolie Wasserman. These four students are extremely hardworking, display traits of perseverance, and in the end want to make the Briarcliff community a better place. Without a doubt, they have made an impact and left their legacy at Briarcliff High School.
Rising to the top of his class, Aman Choudhri has earned the title of Valedictorian but has achieved so much more. He has been primarily involved in the Chamber Ensemble and Academic Challenge clubs, while also playing on the varsity tennis team since his sophomore year. One of Aman’s favorite activities has been performing in the pit orchestra for his sophomore and junior years (in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Amelie musicals). This year, the musical is obviously taking a different form, but it still seems like he’ll get the opportunity to be a part of it through recordings! Outside of school, Aman has played classical piano for 11 years and violin for around six years. He pursued his passion for tutoring by helping BHS students in math and Spanish with the help of the Math Honor Society and Jolie Wasserman and Aiden Rutman’s brilliant peer matching program. Additionally, Aman helped students at Yonkers Partners in Education prepare for the SAT every Saturday throughout his junior year (pre-COVID). Currently, Aman is pursuing a research project at IBM applying an analytical technique called causal inference to a dataset of electronic health records. Aman expects to spend this upcoming summer working as a software development intern with Columbia University Information Technology. The entire BHS community is proud to award this remarkable achievement to Aman and can’t wait to see him accomplish great things in the future.
Marlena Kuhn not only was named a salutatorian but also is impressively graduating early this spring. Marlena has participated in a variety of clubs including the Math Honors Society, Rho Kappa honor Society, National Honor Society, and Academic Challenge, the school’s trivia tournament club. In addition, she even founded her very own club, Inter-Generational Alliance. Her goal for the club is to focus on strengthening the community by connecting high school students with residents of the local nursing home. And she has done just that! Through card drives and pen pal programs, the club helped students fulfill their community service requirements while also brightening and supporting seniors during these tough and isolated times. In her free time, Marlena takes traditional Shotokan karate classes and has earned a third-degree black belt. As Marlena leaves Briarcliff High School in only three years, she thanks the BHS community for being really supportive of her journey of graduating early. She reflects on her time at BHS and said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know the wonderful students, teachers, and staff at BHS.” She has left a big impact on our school, and we can’t wait to see how she will continue her success in college!
Salutatorian Nancy Li thrives in the classroom and as well as in her sports, clubs, and extracurricular activities. As a proud member of many of Briarcliff’s school clubs she has been the secretary and treasurer for the Asian Club, involved member and secretary of the Briars and Ivy Literary Magazine, and, prior to Covid, the secretary of the Chemistry Club. In addition to her active roles in those clubs, she is a member of three honors societies: National Honors Society, Math Honors Society, and the Rho Kappa Society. She also played on the BHS JV Girls Tennis team for two years before joining the varsity girls tennis team for the next two years. Additionally, she was a member of the varsity girls squash team all four winter seasons during her career at BHS. In addition to her involvement with Briarcliff affiliated activities, she is a talented pianist. Playing piano for the past 12 years has led her to build her skill and exhibit it as a part of her church worship band. Nancy has impacted the BHS community, and we wish her luck as she ventures to college!
Salutatorian Jolie not only excels in the classroom but is an extremely well-rounded student. She is a member of countless clubs and also finds ways to participate in two athletic teams and aids her community. Jolie is a proud member of the Math Honors Society, National Honors Society, Student Coalition for Human Dignity and holds the role of editor-in-chief for the Briarcliff Bulletin. She also plays tennis for the girls varsity tennis team and throws for the track and field team. She will be proudly continuing this passion for throwing as a member of the track and field team at Carnegie Mellon. In the midst of online learning last year, Jolie partnered with her classmate Aiden Rutman to launch a tutoring program to help students in the district during the tough times. She reflected on how compassionate and motivated our high school student body is. Jolie said “Looking back at my time at BHS, I would put emphasis on how fortunate we are to be in a school that is not only technologically advanced but also caring about its students. I am excited to venture off to Pittsburgh, but I cannot help but keep BHS close to my heart.” We hope to see Jolie excel in either mechanical or electrical engineering in the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon!
Congratulations and good luck in college!