education

Valedictorians of Miami’s private schools are star students

 

arichardson@MiamiHerald.com

Taking on honors, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses is no easy feat. Nor is studying late into the night, being an accomplished athlete or leading student club and community-service programs.

But that is what it takes to rank at the top of the class, either as a valedictorian or a salutatorian. For some of these overachievers, it wasn’t about the hard work: Their main obstacle was time.

“It was really hard for me to get up early for practice, finish all my work, stay for afternoon practice, study and still get enough sleep every week,” said 18-year-old Alexa Kalandiak, valedictorian of Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove and a member of the school’s swim team.

Alexa earned an 11.8 grade-point average — out of 12.0 — and will attend Yale University in the fall.

“Every little grade counts,” says Alexa. “There’s a difference between getting A or an A-plus or an A-minus.”

The competition among students is fierce.

Brielle Perez, 17, one of three students to graduate magna cum laude from Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, had thought graduating at the top of her class was out of reach. Yet she did it, earning a 5.66 GPA. She will attend Georgetown University in the fall.

“It was a huge surprise,” said Brielle. “I think it really came down to the last couple of tests that we took.”

For Lourdes Brea, 18, valedictorian of Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in southwest Miami-Dade, who earned a 5.24 GPA and will attend the University of Notre Dame, the challenges were not just in the classroom but also on the track and field.

“When I started freshman year, I was barely top seven in cross country,” said Lourdes. “By senior year I was one of the top runners in my school.”

Her coach, Rebecca Michalak was one of her biggest motivators.

“She taught me to never give up,” said Lourdes. “I just need to keep on trying because you never know what’s going to happen next.”

Here are the top students at Miami-Dade private schools. Miami-Dade Public Schools eliminated the rankings of valedictorian and salutatorian in 2008 after the race for the top spot became too competitive.

ALLISON ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Nicole Zhamnov

GPA: N/A

College: Moscow State University

Co- Salutatorian: Jason Andrew Chao

GPA: N/A

College: Saint John’s University

Co- Salutatorian: Jamieson Gilfoy Jr.

GPA: N/A

College: Miami Dade College

ARCHBISHOP COLEMAN CARROLL HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Kevin Griffin

GPA: 5.16

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Jennifer Egbebike

GPA: 5.12

College: Columbia University

ARCHBISHOP CURLEY NOTRE DAME 6 TO 12 PREP

Valedictorian: Michael Smith

GPA: 5.02

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Lynn Delva

GPA: 4.86

College: Florida State University

BELEN JESUIT PREPARATORY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Marlon Seijo

GPA: 5.39

College: Harvard

Salutatorian: Diego Roberto Guimaraes-Blandon

GPA: 5.32

College: Williams College

BETH JACOB OF GREATER MIAMI

Co-Valedictorian: Talia Choueke

GPA: 4.23

College: Bnos Sarah Seminary in Jerusalem

Co- Valedictorian: Chana Leah Luban

GPA: 4.22

College: Binas Bais Yaakov in Jerusalem

Salutatorian: Gila Shapiro

GPA: 4.12

College: Beth Jacob Jerusalem in Jerusalem

CARROLLTON SCHOOL OF THE SACRED HEART

Valedictorian: Michelle Haubold

GPA: N/A

College: Duke University

Salutatorian: Isabel Mendia

GPA: N/A

College: Yale University

CHAMPAGNAT CATHOLIC SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Melissa Rogers

GPA: 4.3

College: University of Central Florida

Salutatorian: Kassandra Cid

GPA: 4.3

College: Miami Dade College

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Alec McLeod

GPA: 5.44

College: Harvard

Salutatorian: Nicholas Farrat

GPA: 5.31

College: Northwestern University

FLORIDA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Vanessa Alvarez

GPA: 4.61

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Jazmin Liotta

GPA: 4.57

College: University of Florida

GULLIVER PREPARATORY ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Sharon Peng

GPA: 5.65

College: Duke University

Salutatorian: Charles Crepy D’Orleans

GPA: 5.54

College: Johns Hopkins University

HEBREW ACADEMY (RASG)

Valedictorian: Ethan Danial

GPA: N/A

College: Columbia University

Salutatorian: Madison Emas

GPA: N/A

College: University of Florida

IMMACULATA-LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Martin Saavedra

GPA: 5.34

College: Cornell University

Salutatorian: Anna Eakins

GPA: 5.23

College: Villanova University

MIAMI COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Gioanna Caterina Macropulos

GPA: 4.83

College: University of Pennsylvania

Salutatorian: Emil Alexander Martayan

GPA: 4.71

College: Stanford University

MONSIGNOR EDWARD PACE HIGH SCHOOL*

Magna Cum Laude:

Brielle Perez

GPA: 5.66

College: Georgetown University

Carlos Gonzalez

GPA: 5.65

College: University of Florida

Nicholas Fernandez

GPA: 5.65

College: Princeton University

*The school does not name a valedictorian or salutatorian. Rather, it designates its top students magna cum laude.

OUR LADY OF LOURDES ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Lourdes Brea

GPA: 5.24

College: University of Notre Dame

Salutatorian: Diana Lopez

GPA: 4.92

College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

PALMER TRINITY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Hallie Parten

GPA: 4.45

College: University of Chicago

Salutatorian: Paulina Calderon

GPA: 4.29

College: Georgetown University

RANSOM EVERGLADES SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Alexa Kalandiak

GPA: 11.8 (out of 12.0)

College: Yale University

Salutatorian: Lisette Tellez

GPA: 11.5 (out of 12.0)

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ST. BRENDAN HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Lisabeth Alvarez

GPA: 5.30

College: Florida International University Honors College

Salutatorian: Nicole Del Campo

GPA: 5.29

College: University of Florida

SCHECK HILLEL COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Dana Sadovnic

GPA: 4.98

College: University of Pennsylvania

Salutatorian: Eugenia Bejar

GPA: 4.97

College: University of Pennsylvania

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Laura Moya

GPA: 5.059

College: Northeastern University

Salutatorian: Ana Lopes

GPA: 5.058

College: New York University

WESTWOOD CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Caterina Cafferata

GPA: 4.23

College: Miami Dade College

Salutatorian: Ana Ramirez

GPA: 4.17

College: Florida International University

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