The Bethpage School District adopted the mantra of “All In” for the 2020-21 school year, representing the effort and dedication shown by students and staff to work through a year like no other. Bonnie Stern and Pawan Pitiranggon, the top two graduating students of the Class of 2021, are perfect examples of this ideal.
Valedictorian Bonnie is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Foreign Language Honor Society and serves as the president of the French Club. She has received an AP Capstone diploma and holds the impressive position of being an AP Scholar with Distinction.
Outside of school, Bonnie served the community as an intern at Plainview Northwell Health in the gastroenterology unit and is currently working in an ophthalmologist's office. Here, she acts as an assistant to the doctor, performs eye tests with machines and completes various administrative work.
These positions, both past and current, are in line with Bonnie’s future career plans of being a healthcare provider. As a hopeful pediatrician, she will be attending the University of Albany Honors College in the fall with a major in chemistry on a pre-med track. Bonnie received the highest scholarship amounts in the Presidential and Academic Distinct Student scholarships at the University of Albany.
While Bonnie has cultivated an exceptional academic career, she stresses the importance of being patient and staying true to oneself to find a passion during the high school years.
“An important lesson that I will take with me after my time at Bethpage is to be comfortable in your skin,” she said. “You will discover your hobbies and interests along the way. And above all else, it is imperative that you stay true to your values and beliefs no matter what’s trending.”
Salutatorian Pawan is a long-time member of the math and robotics teams. He credits some of his success to the opportunity Bethpage High School gave him to collaborate and work with his peers.
“The importance of communication I encountered during high school is something I'll take with me throughout life,” he said. “Sometimes, simply talking to people will solve problems quickly, and breaking down assignments or tasks into smaller chunks through good planning makes life more manageable in general, and Bethpage encouraged that.”
Pawan will be attending Stony Brook University in the fall and is deciding between majoring in physics or political science.
When asked what kept them motivated throughout the 2020-21 school year, both Bonnie and Pawan expressed how they remained diligent in their studies and goals.
“Thinking about what is ahead of me kept me motivated throughout the school year,” Pawan said.
“Even though we have encountered a year with mounds of uncertainty and unpredictability, I was heading into my senior year and had put in a tremendous amount of effort for years,” Bonnie said. “I was not going to give up at the finish line.”