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Meet Miami-Dade’s valedictorians and salutatorians, Class of 2019

Miami-Dade student follows brothers’ footsteps as valedictorian and Stanford-bound

Ransom Everglades senior and valedictorian Anna Mistele has followed her siblings - Matt (valedictorian of 2013), and John (valedictorian of 2017) in academic achievement and now plans on joining them at Stanford next year.
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Ransom Everglades senior and valedictorian Anna Mistele has followed her siblings - Matt (valedictorian of 2013), and John (valedictorian of 2017) in academic achievement and now plans on joining them at Stanford next year.

Brilliant. Hard-working. Driven.

Words often used to describe students who go above and beyond, year after year, to graduate at the top of their class.

But it’s more than getting straight A’s. Some students endured marathon community service projects and sleepless nights, while others battled personal obstacles and health challenges. No matter the hardship, each student had his or her unique journey to attaining the coveted accolades of valedictorian or salutatorian of their 2019 high school graduating class.

For Matias Lancewicki, 18, of Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, an immigrant from Argentina, making time for family and giving back to the community was just as important, if not more, as his academics.

“A few years ago, I started a non-profit organization called Detect-to-Prevent to conduct vision screenings in low-income areas across Florida,” said Matias. “The screenings helped to detect vision disorders in students and provided free glasses to children who needed them.”

Matias also was a leader in Chabad Teen, an organization that builds a community for Jewish teens to help them maintain values of kindness and service. Throughout high school, Matias’ schedule included his studies, soccer and community service — yet, he still managed to earn the salutatorian accolade after graduating with a 4.58 GPA.

For Athalia Allen, 18, her path to valedictorian included countless community service hours at Jackson North Medical Center and volleyball practice. In between, she battled anxiety and depression.

“I can recall the many mental breakdowns, anxiety attacks and insecurities that were tearing me apart,” said Athalia, a senior at Dade Christian. “However, it wasn’t until my junior year that I decided to work on myself – I no longer allowed my depression and anxiety to take control of my life.”

Athalia turned her obstacles into victories by finding a healthy balance between schoolwork and social life, as well as sharpening her time-management skills.

After graduating with a 4.31 GPA, she will attend Nova Southeastern University to study psychology. She’s also an advocate for students who suffer from mental health issues and is working to develop an organization with her church that’s dedicated to mental health awareness.

Athalia’s advice to students who wish to graduate at the top of their class is to watch the company you keep and to never settle.

“Surround yourself with people who are just as ambitious as you, or even more,” she said. “I live by my quote, which says, ‘Surround yourself with those who reflect positive light, never those who deflect it.’”

Meet the Class of 2019 students who graduated at the top of their class in Miami-Dade private, parochial or charter schools. (Miami-Dade Public Schools do not recognize valedictorians or salutatorians.)

The complete list, with the students’ photographs, will be published in Sunday’s Neighbors, June 9, 2019

ARCHBISHOP COLEMAN CARROLL

Valedictorian: Alexandra Brown

GPA: 5.38

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Melanie Borrego

GPA: 5.27

College: Florida International University

BELEN JESUIT

Valedictorian: Guillermo Molero

GPA: 5.568

College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Salutatorian: Julian Zulueta

GPA: 5.505

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

CARROLLTON

Co-Valedictorian: Olivia Osle

GPA: N/A

College: Duke University

Co-Valedictorian: Alina Suarez

GPA: N/A

College: Duke University

Salutatorian: Caroline Dowell-Esquivel

GPA: N/A

College: Georgia Institute of Technology

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

Co-Valedictorian: Fernando Salinas

GPA: 5.47

College: University of Florida Honors College

Co-Valedictorian: Francesco Baca

GPA: 5.47

College: University of Florida Honors College

DADE CHRISTIAN

Valedictorian: Athalia Allen

GPA: 4.31

College: Nova Southeastern University

Salutatorian: Michael Kemp

GPA: 3.88

College: University of Central Florida

DIVINE SAVIOR

Valedictorian: Fabrizio Casanova

GPA: 4.264

College: Cornell University

Salutatorian: Aaron Hartzell

GPA: 4.257

College: Purdue University Honors College

GULLIVER

Co-Valedictorian: Kiran Masroor

GPA: 5.9

College: Yale University

Co-Valedictorian: Karan Mirpuri

GPA: 5.9

College: Vanderbilt University

Salutatorian: Jingyi (Massie) Pan

GPA: 5.8

College: University of California, Los Angeles

HEBREW ACADEMY (RASG)

Valedictorian: Jack Benveniste-Plitt

GPA: N/A

College: University of Maryland, School of Engineering

Salutatorian: Shani McCarley

GPA: N/A

College: University of Florida

IMMACULATA-LA SALLE

Valedictorian: Ashley Zelaya

GPA: 5.3278

College: Johns Hopkins University

Salutatorian: Lillian Sanchez

GPA: 5.2810

College: University of Miami

MATER ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Natalie Cardenas

GPA: 5.3278

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Salutatorian: Daniel Garcia

GPA: 5.392

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIAMI COUNTRY DAY

Co-Valedictorian: Jeremy Simon Cross

GPA: 4.90

College: Duke University

Co-Valedictorian: Felipe Augusto Rangel

GPA: 4.90

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Elizabeth Jane Stone

GPA: 4.82

College: University of Pennsylvania

MONSIGNOR EDWARD PACE

Summa Cum Laude: Nathan Bonet

GPA: 5.71

College: University of Miami

Summa Cum Laude: Vanessa Perez-Robles

GPA: 5.56

College: Dartmouth College

Summa Cum Laude: Daniella Conde

GPA: 5.55

College: University of Florida

OUR LADY OF LOURDES

Valedictorian: Carolina Murai Paniagua

GPA: 5.45

College: Duke University

Salutatorian: Victoria Maria Hernandez

GPA: 5.31

College: Duke University

PALMER TRINITY

Valedictorian: John Cyril Malloy IV

GPA: N/A

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Salutatorian: Noah Riley Pirani

GPA: N/A

College: Brown University

PALMETTO BAY ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Kyle Maxwell

GPA: 4.38

College: Florida International University

RANSOM EVERGLADES

Valedictorian: Anna Mistele

GPA: 11.86 (on a 12-point scale)

College: Stanford University

Salutatorian: Valeria Vela

GPA: 11.64 (on a 12-point scale)

College: Harvard University

REDLAND CHRISTIAN

Valedictorian: Kyle Bukouski

GPA: 3.7

College: Valencia College

Salutatorian: Christian Perez

GPA: 3.6

College: Miami Dade College

RIVIERA PREPARATORY

Valedictorian: Juan Arvelo

GPA: 5.77

College: California Institute of Technology

Salutatorian: Christopher Perez

GPA: 5.62

College: University of Florida

SCHECK HILLEL

Valedictorian: Raquel DiMitri

GPA: 4.59

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Matias Lancewicki

GPA: 4.58

College: Cornell University

SOMERSET ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Stefano Pastrana

GPA: 5.5714

College: Yale University

Salutatorian: Noah Velazquez

GPA: 5.5067

College: Columbia University

SOMERSET ARTS CONSERVATORY

Valedictorian: Carolina Carvajalino

GPA: 5.3

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Alyssa Arneaud

GPA: 5.2787

College: University of Miami

ST. BRENDAN

Valedictorian: Justin Prats

GPA: 5.364

College: Florida International University Honors College

Salutatorian: Sofia E. Roa-Febres

GPA: 5.362

College: Rice University

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN

Valedictorian: Sara Fernandez

GPA: 5.429

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Salutatorian: Anabelle Perez

GPA: 5.234

College: Cornell University

WESTWOOD CHRISTIAN

Co-Valedictorian: Sean Bernaldo

GPA: 4.27

College: University of Miami

Co-Valedictorian: Wei Ting “Victor” Cheng Chen

GPA: 4.27

College: Florida International University and Miami Dade College

Salutatorian: Gia Azcoitia

GPA: 4.25

College: Florida International University Honors College

Ransom Everglades senior and valedictorian Anna Mistele has followed her siblings - Matt (valedictorian of 2013), and John (valedictorian of 2017) in academic achievement and now plans on joining them at Stanford next year.

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