Rye Neck High School celebrates Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian
Rye Neck High School seniors Grace West and Heonjae Lee have earned the school’s top honors. They were named the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2020. Having put time and effort into their schoolwork, both accomplished students said it was rewarding to receive the recognition.
West attributed her success to the support of her teachers and the close-knit Rye Neck school community.
“The fact that I was supported by people who really cared about me individually gave me the tools to be successful,” West said. “I spent essentially my entire life at Rye Neck, so it is very special to me. It is where I was able to grow and find some of my favorite people. Being able to get to know people on a personal level and feel supported by so many is something very special and very unique to Rye Neck.”
Over her high school career, West has been member of the Student-Athletic Cabinet, Mock Trial and Model United Nations teams. She also served as captain of the varsity volleyball team and was a member of the varsity track team. Outside of school, she has served as a debate instructor, youth deacon at her church, research assistant at NYU Langone Health and intern at a digital startup.
Having moved to Rye Neck from South Korea and overcoming numerous challenges, Lee said the recognition is especially meaningful to him. He attributed his success to his self-motivation.
“It truly gives me confidence to further challenge myself in the future,” he said. “Rye Neck helped me find out my field of interest, which is developmental and urban economics. I will miss my supportive teachers and friends, who were easy to reach out to and willing to collaborate and help.”
Over his high school career, Lee has been a member of the Rye Neck Science Olympiad team. He also founded the Sustainable Development Society and was a research intern at Hunter College, where he organized socioeconomic data of New York City. In addition, he has written reports on housing affordability and gentrification for the City of New Rochelle and Mamaroneck.
The soon-to-be graduates said if they could give any piece of advice to the incoming freshmen, it would be to set their own goals and values, discover their passions and stay committed to them.
Lee will attend Columbia University, and West will attend Vanderbilt University.