Grace Gallagher, valedictorian
Grace Gallagher finished atop the West Islip Class of 2020 with a 106.1661 weighted GPA. She plans to attend Fairfield University, majoring in biology on the …
Grace Gallagher finished atop the West Islip Class of 2020 with a 106.1661 weighted GPA. She plans to attend Fairfield University, majoring in biology on the pre-med track.
In addition to appreciating the subject in school, Gallagher pointed out that family members have faced cancer.
“That has definitely driven me to go into the biology field and try to figure out ways to help other people,” she said. “I do love helping other people and just using my knowledge to make other people’s lives better.”
Regarding her school choice, Gallagher said she loves the campus, and was attracted to the honors program and opportunities that biology and science majors have.
Gallagher has danced recreationally for West Islip Creative Arts for 13 years, practicing jazz, tap, ballet, and more. She was also the captain of the varsity kickline team and was on the team since ninth grade. Gallagher auditioned for the competition team in her junior year and participated in that capacity through senior year.
Additionally, for extracurricular activities, Gallagher participated in student senate during ninth and 10th grade, Thirst Project, and is a member of multiple honor societies.
Gallagher has been a student teacher for five years, teaching grades ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.
“When I was younger, I had student teachers, and I always wanted to be like them,” Gallagher said. “I always looked up to them. Learning how to be a leader and helping other people is definitely something I will use later on.”
Gallagher also plays the violin, joining the chamber orchestra in 10th grade. She was invited to play at various festivals during her time in high school, including NYSCAME and LISFA. She mentioned two orchestra teachers who influenced and supported her through school: Mr. Willis and Mr. Jensen. “They always made music class really fun and always pushed me to try my hardest while keeping a light atmosphere, and they were always there if I needed advice about school or anything,” Gallagher said.
Courtney Metzger finished as West Islip’s Class of 2020 salutatorian with a 105.59 weighted GPA. She anticipates attending Stony Brook University in the fall and studying health science.
She was accepted into the Honors College at Stony Brook University, which Metzger mentioned was a notable reason she chose the school. She said she fell in love with science classes throughout her studies thus far.
In terms of extracurricular activities, Metzger has participated in Mathletes, field hockey, Science Olympiad, DECA, and is a member of multiple honor societies. She said science Olympiad was a great experience throughout high school.
“I competed with one of my closest friends, and we would compete in teams,” Metzger said. “Some of the things were very difficult, and we would compete against a bunch of other schools, but it was one of the most fun experiences.”
Regarding DECA, Metzger came in fourth place at the state competition for her events. And for field hockey, Metzger played on JV until junior year, when she moved up to varsity.
“It was more about being part of a team and having those friendships, and the coaches were wonderful people,” she said. “The bonds I have made will last forever.”
When asked about influential individuals in her life, Metzger listed four teachers: Ms. Patti, her Spanish teacher; Ms. Crimi, her calculus teacher; Ms. Barone, her 10th-grade English teacher; and Ms. Morana, her AP chemistry teacher.
“They were more than teachers to me. They were friends, and I could talk to them about anything,” Metzger said. “But they also gave me the drive to do well in school and have somebody to talk to.
“They always want to see you do the best, especially with the teachers. Everybody wants to see you be the best you can, and they are there no matter what decisions you make or what career field you want to go into,” Metzger continued.
Whether she ends up in public health or research in medicine, Metzger intends to make an impact.
“I definitely want to make a change, even if it is only helping one person,” she said.