Kurt Wasserman and Jordan Federbush will graduate from Fox Lane High School this month with the special distinction of achieving top academic rankings in their class: Wasserman was named valedictorian, Federbush as salutatorian.
Not only have they earned top grades, they've both been active members of the school and surrounding community.
Wasserman, who plans to attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University this fall, serves as co-president of the National Honor Society and completed two community service trips through Bridges to Community. He then started a school Habitat for Humanity chapter which traveled to as far as Mississipi and as closeby as Yorktown Heights to build and repair homes.
He swims competitively and for ten years has participated on teams through local swim clubs and Fox Lane, getting to states twice and sectionals four times. His main academic pursuits have been around science and through the school's science research program, he attended the prestigious summer program at Rockefeller University, where he helped researchers study the circadian rhythms of fruit flies.
Federbush, a member of the National Honor Society, plans to attend the Olin School at Washington University this fall. He has played tennis at both the Saw Mill Club and Chestnut Ridge and this year served as captain of the varsity tennis team.
He is treasurer of the school's Model Congress and organized conference travel for many competitive events—Federbush himself took home "the gavel" several times and won best delegate in tenth grade. Because of the benefits and enjoyment he derived from the experience, he's spent time this year encouraging middle school students to paricipate in the high school club. Federbush also co-founded the school's investment club, which he credits with starting his interest in business. He's president of the youth group at and this year overhauled their collection system for the Midnight Run.
Patch interviewed both students to get their take on their high school experience and plans for the future.
Patch: Did you imagine you'd be named top students—was it your goal?
Federbush: When I started getting good report cards, I thought, well this is a good foundation, but I won’t keep it up because classes will get harder. But I made it a goal to maintain them, and last year I saw it as a possibility. As long as I knew I was doing my best—I didn’t feel like I had to do it but it’s been a pleasant surprise. Slacking off is not my work ethic, I’m very self motivated.
Wasserman: No way. I would never have thought I'd be here. I like to focus on each class and enjoyed the material. Getting good grades gave me a sense of fulfillment which continued to motivate me. I treated each class individually and took them to enjoy get something out of.
Patch: Was there a particular class or academic experience that changed you?
Wasserman: Dr. Hillary Dowling, my AP biology teacher, helped shaped my interests. The way the materials were taught meshed so well with my way of thinking, I think it was a combination of the material and her style of teaching, which made that class fun and distinct to go to. Mr. Coughlin’s AP US History class challenged me to work in a college-like atmosphere, which was more independent learning and note-taking. I grew and adapted to the style.
Federbush: I got the most of Mr. Bill Broggy, my AP U.S. History and Intro to Philosophy teacher – he clearly loved teaching. Every time he'd introduce a new topic, he's preface it by saying "this is my favorite," which said to us his favorite thing is teaching and he loves what he’s doing—which makes us want to learn more. I loved AP Statistics for it's practicality and Society, Literature and Truth because it was a seminar class and student driven and encouraged independent learning.
Patch: It sounds like you both were pleased with the curricular offerings and instructors?
Wasserman: I’ve formed so many personal connections to so many teachers here and they have all combined to help create who I am today.
Federbush: (laughs) Yes! I feel bad about even singling anyone out…
Patch: In your opinion, is there anything you'd like to see the school district do differently?
Federbush: No, I really think they listen to students and adapt and make changes. We are both on the principal's advisory committee which was created to establish a direct line of communication to the administration. We feel we can express our opinions and they make decisions with our input.
Wasserman: They make changes quickly and constantly change to make this school better.
Patch: What's your dream job of the future?
Wasserman: I want to be happy and smiling and having fun; I'd like to have a family. I'll probably be in international relations, something to do with health, politics. I'm not sure exactly the path will go, but that’s will make it so fun.
Federbush: I don't have a specific job title as a goal but want to combine my interests and values; I have an interest in business with a love of sports and a passion for giving back to the community. I'd like to help others and not just make money.
Patch: What will you miss?
Wasserman: My friends, the people, teachers. It will be sad not to see them every day but exciting to start something new.
Federbush: I'm also looking forward to a fresh start but will miss my connections and the welcoming environment.
Patch: Four fun, quick questions. Ready? What's on your iPod, what's your favorite late-night study snack, your favorite book and what comfort item will you bring from home to college?
Federbush: Dave Matthews, peanut butter sandwich on 7-grain bread, The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball, and photos of my friends.
Wasserman: Lil Wayne, chocolate, The Things They Carried and my iPod speakers. And photos.