IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Ryan Meng-Killeen and Zoe Mermelstein are at the top of the class in Irvington.
Meng-Killeen and Zoe Mermelstein were named valedictorian and salutatorian of Irvington High School's Class of 2017.
Meng-Killeen and Mermelstein said they have worked incredibly hard throughout their high school career, but were surprised to receive the school’s top honors. They attributed their success to their friends and family and being given the opportunity to pursue their passions both in school and outside of school.
“Being the valedictorian means that I have some very supportive friends who have always helped me do the best that I can do,” Meng-Killeen said.
Meng-Killeen runs track and cross country and is part of the school's science research program. He was named an AP scholar and was inducted into the school’s Cum Laude Society for his outstanding academic achievements. Meng-Killeen was also named National Merit Scholarship finalist this spring.
Mermelstein said it’s an honor to represent her class and recognized that everyone worked hard throughout their high school careers.
“I always tried to pursue things that I liked,” she said. “I never took every single Advanced Placement class that I had to take. I did a lot of history and language and I really enjoyed what I was doing and I studied a lot. It was easy for me to do the work if it was something I was passionate to be doing.”
Mermelstein also runs track and cross country. She is the co-president of the Latin Club and a four-time National Latin Exam gold medalist. She is a National Merit Scholarship winner and a U.S. Presidential Scholarship nominee, as well as the recipient of the Yale Book Award and National Greek Exam Blue Ribbon. She was named an AP Scholar with Distinction and was inducted into the school’s Cum Laude Society for her outstanding academic achievements.
Meng-Killeen said he would tell incoming freshmen to pursue their passions and push themselves in the areas they’re strong at.
“I think a lot of the freshmen can be stressed out about starting high school and try to be perfect and make the perfect resume, but I think it’s good to keep things in perspective," Meng-Killeen said. "School is important but it’s not everything. They should cultivate friendships and spend time with their families.”
In his speech, Meng-Killeen said he will reflect on the past year and what makes their grade unique.
"Irvington is a very special place," Meng-Killeen said. " We have a pretty tight-knit community, which is nice.”
In the fall, Meng-Killeen will attend Cornell University, where he plans to major in biology. Mermelstein will be attending Brown University, where she plans to pursue a Classics and Middle Eastern Studies major.