WHHS announces Class of 2016 valedictorian & salutatorian
WHHS announces Class of 2016 valedictorian & salutatorian
Posted on 06/10/2016
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WEST HAVEN, June 7, 2016 — West Haven High School has announced that this year’s valedictorian is Jeremy Borelli, an engineering major headed to the University of Connecticut on a full scholarship, and the salutatorian is Sarah Grillo, a nursing major bound for Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.

WHHS’ 2016 commencement ceremony is set for Monday in Ken Strong Stadium on the school campus at 6 p.m. with speeches from both Borelli and Grillo and the presentation of diplomas to approximately 350 students.

Principal Pamela Gardner said valedictorian and salutatorian are known as leaders in the classroom, on the ice rink and in the community.

“Jeremy and Sarah are exceptionally bright and motivated students, but they are also incredibly kind and genuine--the type of students every teacher or professor wants in his or her classroom. I’m confident they will be successful in any opportunity they pursue, and we are just so proud of them,” Gardner said. “They have been very involved in the WHHS community from the start and have contributed so much.”

Despite grueling workloads that included college-level classes, clubs and volunteering as part of the highly regarded WHHS Peer Advocates group, the two student-athletes juggled their responsibilities with grace and a quiet determination.

Borelli, selected as WHHS’ male CIAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2016, has been preparing for a major in civil engineering through STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Project Lead the Way classes at WHHS, including Introduction to Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture and Principles of Engineering. He also learned more about the industry at a two-week University of New Haven summer camp called Team-Based Engineering and Manufacturing before he entered his junior year of high school.

“I like building and solving problems. At the UNH camp, we had to create wheels that could travel over different materials and design an energy-efficient house. I’m interested in structural engineering and buildings,” explained Borelli, who has applied to live in an engineering-focused dorm at UConn.

He also loaded up on honors and Advanced Placement (college-level) courses at WHHS, such as AP Physics I and II, AP Calculus, AP Literature, AP Government and Politics and AP Human Geography—so much so, that he took the most of any other student this year, with 20 AP and honors courses.

As a senior, Borelli served as captain for the boys tennis and hockey teams. He played varsity on both all four years of his high school career, and helped lead the tennis team to victory in the Division II SCC championship two years in a row, with last year being the first time the team had ever taken the title.

That was all in addition to serving as a Peer Advocate volunteer, member of the National Honor Society, assistant in a spring hockey league and the Great Skate at Edward L. Bennett Ice Rink, summer camp counselor, and volunteer at Our Lady of Victory Church’s weekly bingo. Borelli even volunteered for two summers as a “ball person” at the Connecticut Open tennis tournament.

He’s considering trying soccer and lacrosse at UConn because he’s never played either of the sports before and hopes to join club hockey and tennis teams.

“I’m mostly excited for something new,” he said about heading to college in the fall. “I’ll miss my sports teams here the most because we were like a family. I’m so proud of our tennis team winning SCCs, and I’m proud of what I’ve done here at West Haven High School.”

Grillo also had experience with college-level classes at WHHS, taking AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry and AP Psychology, and was recognized for successfully completing 14 AP and honors courses.

But she also has been considered a full-time University of New Haven undergrad for the past semester while still a WHHS student through the highly competitive Outstanding High School Student Program, taking four classes at UNH for free in place of her WHHS course load. (Only three WHHS students were chosen for the program this year, which is open to West Haven and New Haven high-schoolers.)

She earned a 4.0 in her UNH classes—which included Physics, Calculus, Communications and English Composition—and even continued coming back to WHHS to remain a member of the hockey team, Peer Advocate group and National Honor Society, of which she is vice president.

“I’d definitely recommend OHSSP. I feel so prepared for college. I learned that the responsibility now shifts from the teacher teaching you, to you teaching yourself and being in charge of your education,” Grillo said.

She’s heading to Salve Regina because she was impressed with its nursing program and the rate at which nursing majors receive job offers after clinical rotations. Nursing and helping others has been a lifelong interest for Grillo.

“From a very young age, I was passionate about nursing because my brother had been sick. I would see the nurses helping him and the smile they would put on his face. Since I was little, that’s what I wanted to do. My ideal career is a pediatric nurse practitioner,” Grillo said.

Though she couldn’t fit the WHHS certified nursing assistant class into her schedule, she made time to stop by some of the classes to learn the material and practice techniques in moving patients with the nursing class mannequin.

Grillo also was on Class Council and volunteered at the ice rink and Learn to Skate event, and this week was named the West Haven Rotary Club Student of the Year. At Salve Regina, she’s looking forward to joining club hockey and a sorority, but she’s most excited to have new life experiences on her own and to take classes that will prepare her for her career.

“My advice to younger students is to really value your education,” she said. “You could lose a lot of things that people can take away from you, but what you learn and your knowledge is priceless and can never be taken away.”