GOSHEN — More than 30 years ago, Goshen High School administrators began honoring the top six graduating seniors instead of the traditional top two. These high-achieving students held grade-point averages so close — merely hundredths of a point apart — that the district felt they all deserved to be honored for their accomplishments.
For the past four years, Goshen Honor Grads Alexandria Bouchard, Julia Episcopio, Conor O’Riordan, Daniel Solomon, Jaclyn Ulvila and Anna Zirilli immersed themselves in extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, and interscholastic athletics — all while dedicating themselves to achieving high academic standards.
After their graduation ceremony on Friday evening, they will head out into the world, taking with them their memories and lessons learned. But each can recall how their school chose to celebrate their accomplishments together.
Alexandria BouchardAlexandria will attend Princeton University, where she plans to major in chemical and biological engineering. She is the daughter of John and Jeanne Bouchard of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Student Senate Treasurer, Student Government Treasurer, Varsity Club Vice President, National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Leo Club, Softball, Basketball, and Soccer Captain.
Volunteer work/employment: Lobby greeter and nurse’s assistant at Orange Regional Medical Center, works at Tina’s Pizza Café and Restaurant in Chester.
Awards/honors: Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Award, Time Warner Cable Scholar Athlete of the Week, Goshen Greats for AP Physics.
On feeling prepared for the future: “I think the faculty and administrators always had our best interests in mind and helped us maximize our opportunities. If Goshen High School has prepared me for one thing, it is how to balance school, athletics, extra-curricular activities, and sleep and still be able to succeed.”
Advice for aspiring Honor Grads: “As an underclassmen, it is difficult to see the ultimate goal because it’s so far in the future, but I think it’s important to keep doing what makes you happy and to work hard. Mostly, it’s important to keep your head up, because when the reward finally comes from all the hard work, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Julia EpiscopioJulia will attend Villanova University to study accounting. She then plans to attend business school to get her MBA. She is the daughter of Jennifer Hopkins and Leonard Episcopio in Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Varsity Club Representative, Student Government Vice President, Student Senate President, Leo Club, Girl Scouts, Volleyball and Basketball Captain, Track.
Volunteer work/employment: Orange Regional Medical Center Guest Services, Mustard Seed Ministry Camp Sports Coordinator, bus girl at Limoncello, intern at Hudson Valley Investment Advisors.
Awards/Honors: Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Honor Roll, Junior National Young Leaders Conference.
On being an Honor Grad: “Being an honor grad is such a privilege. I have worked my heart out the past four years and it is great to achieve this title. It is surreal to be considered the top of my class.”
What she looks forward to most: “I look forward to meeting many new people throughout my life. I cannot wait to be a little fish in a big pond. These future experiences will hopefully be exciting and being able to study specific subjects that I enjoy learning!”
Conor O’RiordanConor will attend SUNY New Paltz with an undecided major. He is the son of Siobhan and Cornelius O’Riordan of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Musical Stage Crew, Academic League, Student Government Representative, School Newspaper, Tennis, National Honor Society President, Interact Club Vice-President, Leo Club, St. John the Evangelist Youth Group.
Awards/honors: Certificates of Achievement in Biology, Earth Science, Algebra, English 10, and Intro to Latin, Silver Medal for Participation in the National Latin Exam.
Favorite high school memories: “My time spent working on stage crew for the production of The Sound of Music during my junior year was some of the best weeks of my life. The feeling of running on stage to receive the crowd’s recognition is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.”
Advice for aspiring Honor Grads: “Never waste a period. This gives you extra time for time-consuming activities, such sports or play productions, without the stress of having to do homework late at night.”
Daniel SolomonDaniel will attend Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where he’ll major in industrial and labor relations. While considering a career in law, Daniel plans for a career in baseball operations with the goal of becoming the general manager of a major league baseball team. He is the son of Ellen and Stephen Solomon of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Mock Trial Co-President/Co-Treasurer,National Honor Society, Vice President, World Language Honor Society, Cross Country.
Volunteer work/employment: Intern at Blustein, Shapiro, Rich and Barone LLP, volunteer at Middletown soup kitchen, helps lead Jewish services at Glen Arden.
Awards/honors: AP Scholar with Honor, Mock Trial Certificate of Citizenship, Honor Roll, Certificates of Achievement for English 9 Honors, Geometry Honors, Pre-calculus Honors, AP US History and Advanced Latin, Cross Country Varsity Letter, Summa Cum Laude in National Latin Exam.
Favorite high school memory: “Winning the regional title in Mock Trial was pretty special. It’s probably my proudest high school achievement, and I’ll always remember this team and the program as a whole.”
Advice for aspiring Honor Grads: “If being an Honor Grad is something you seek out, then you’re not treating academics properly. Hard work is important. Getting good grades is important. But try to find that passion that makes you want to learn. If you do, then that will carry over.”
Jaclyn UlvilaJaclyn will attend The University of Delaware with an undecided major but is leaning toward a career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). She is the daughter of Patricia and Richard Ulvila of New Hampton.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Football, Basketball and Competition Cheerleading Captain, CDA Xtreme.
Volunteerism/employment: Jewish Family Services, Pet’s Alive, Religious Education classes for St. Joseph’s Church.
Awards/honors: Certificate of Honorable Merit on the National Latin Examination, Scholastic Art and Writing Award, Gold Key in Hudson Valley Art Awards, AP Scholar Award, Certificate of Achievement for French II and Intro to Latin, Certificate of Achievement for Progress in Biology Honors.
How it feels to be an Honor Grad: “It is an incredible feeling. I walked into freshman year admiring the Honor Grads and all the decorated graduates and was determined to become one. It was not an easy journey but I am proud to be one of the 2015 Honor Grads.”
On feeling prepared for the future: “Goshen High School has provided me with the environment to discover who I am. Whether it was a teacher to whom I could talk or a sport or activity I could participate in, GHS has given me great opportunities and memories to take with me wherever I go. It has become a foundation from which I can now build.”
Anna ZirilliAnna will attend Houghton College with plans to attain dual certification in special education and general education for grades 1-6, as well as extensions in early education and middle grades in order to teach a wide-range of subjects and levels in foreign countries. She is the daughter of David and Rachel Zirilli of Campbell Hall.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society Treasurer, Interact Club Treasurer, See You at the Pole Organizer at Goshen High School, Volleyball Captain.
Volunteer work/employment: Internship at Goshen Intermediate School, Orange Classic 10k and 5k volunteer, Middletown Warming Station, Montgomery Food Pantry, Vacation Bible School Leader, Mission Trip to Rosarito, Mexico, Still Waters Ministries of Peace, Y2Kids Clergy Representative, Goshen Youth Volleyball Instructor, Sunday School Teacher, Little League Concessions, Babysitter.
Awards/honors: Varsity Scholar-Athlete Award, President’s Education Awards Program, Excellence Award in Math, Science, and English, Leadership Award for Volleyball, Certificate of Achievement in Global History 9 and Spanish 3, Award of Appreciation for Goshen High School Blood Drives, Certificate of Award in Spanish IV and AP Calculus, Varsity Letter, Academic Letter.
On her favorite high school memories: “The conversations where I learned something extraordinary about myself, another person, or about life. The small, seemingly unimportant, moments are often the most memorable later on.”
On what she looks forward to in the future: “I am so excited to go to London in the second semester of my freshman year and to play volleyball in the fall.”