Being at the top

Valedictorians and salutatorians have been announced. How do they feel?

Erin Behrmann, Staff Reporter

Being top of PHUHS out of hundreds of students in the senior class is a big deal. Emma Behrmann, Olivia Sakellarides, Maya Srinivasan, and Vipin Suren are the vals and sals for 2020 and will represent their class at graduation. Below is information about them and their achievements.

Emma Behrmann: Valedictorian University/Medical
How does it feel to know that you are salutatorian/valedictorian?
“I was very surprised, but when I was called to the office I kind of knew what was coming. I am really happy that all my hours spent doing school work has paid off,” Behrmann said.
Is there any specific way you got here? How?
“I didn’t plan on being valedictorian, or even trying to be it. School has always been a priority, and I took 15 AP classes and earned straight As. I’ve always been a perfectionist, so I have never had a grade below a 95%. Every elective I had, besides newspaper, I took an AP course,” Behrmann said.
What college will you be attending?
“I am very excited to say I will be attending the University of Florida in the fall,” Behrmann said.
What is one thing you would tell your fellow seniors?
“I would tell them not to stress about the small things and to just live their lives one day at a time. Throughout all of high school it has seemed like everyone has been stressing over what their future will look like. I think everyone should just take these next years to find out what makes them happy and make that their life and career while taking risks and not worrying too much,” Behrmann said.
What do you do outside of school hours?
“I am editor of the newspaper, president of Habitat for Humanity, head coach of the Science Olympiad team for SNHS, FBLA District 12 Historian. I like weightlifting at the gym in my free time and going to as many concerts as possible,” Behrmann said.

 

 

 

Olivia Sakellarides: Salutatorian University/Medical
How does it feel to know that you are salutatorian/valedictorian?
“It came as a shock to me just because I was never working towards val or sal,” Sakellarides said.
Is there any specific way you got here? How?
“School has always been important to me, and I work hard for my grades, but I do it more for my own personal achievements. I would also give credit to my friends, I surround myself with very motivated people that have similar goals to mine and push me to study and do well in school,” Sakellarides said.
What college will you be attending?
“I will be attending the University of Florida next year,” Sakellarides said.
What is one thing you would tell your fellow seniors?
“Enjoy our final semester as it lasts, this time of our lives can be very stressful but everything seems to fall in place the way it’s supposed to be, and I truly believe everything will work out, no matter where you end up,” Sakellarides said.
What do you do outside of school hours?
“I have played tennis for my whole life and that takes up most of my free time,” Sakellarides said.

 

 

 

 

 

Maya Srinivasan: Valedictorian IB
How does it feel to know that you are salutatorian/valedictorian?
“Absolutely incredible. I feel so excited, and thrilled that these four years have paid off. It is such an honor to be recognized for my academic prowess like this, and I am so grateful to represent my International Baccalaureate Class as the valedictorian. I would not be here if it was not for the support of my family, my peers, and my teachers,” Srinivasan said.
Is there any specific way you got here? How?
”It was all about taking difficult classes and balancing my schedule. I started taking AP courses online as a freshman, and since then, I expanded my reach to take a total of 15 AP courses online and in school. Even for my freshman and sophomore year electives, I took AP classes so I could be academically competitive. I also worked incredibly hard in every class, both online and in school. It wasn’t easy, and there were so many late nights, tutoring sessions, and spending every study hall attempting to understand those difficult lessons. Becoming valedictorian was a difficult journey, but I am so grateful to be here,” Srinivasan said.
What college will you be attending?
”I am not sure what college I am attending yet,” Srinivasan said.
What is one thing you would tell your fellow seniors?
“Failure is part of the journey to reaching your goals. It makes the journey. Success means nothing if you can’t bounce back after falling down. It doesn’t mean that failure must cripple you, or that you have to be devastated every time you make a mistake, but achievement derives from knowing that you made it and succeeded. As we take on the next chapter of our lives beyond high school, it’s important to remember how to fail gracefully, and emerge stronger and more committed. Everyone remarks about how important failure is, but once you achieve your goals and look back on what you’ve done, you will finally be able to recognize how important those failures are,” Srinivasan said.
What do you do outside of school hours?
”I am a contemporary, ballet, and jazz dancer. I also play tenor saxophone and clarinet in a jazz band. In terms of clubs, I am a member of the CAS Board, National Honors Society, National English Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Future Business Leaders of America, Girl Up, and Academic Team. I also volunteer at the Toymakers of East Lake, a local nonprofit that makes wooden toys for children in need. I work at the Mathansium of East Lake, tutoring students in K-12 Mathematics,” Srinivasan said.

 

Vipin Suren: Salutatorian IB
How does it feel to know that you are salutatorian/valedictorian?
“I’m really surprised actually, I knew I put in a lot of work throughout my high school year but I never thought I’d ever become sal,” Suren said.
Is there any specific way you got here? How?
“I think the way I was able to achieve this was through consistent grades in between all four years and lots of extra online courses,” Suren said.
What college will you be attending?
“Don’t know yet, I should know by the end of this month,” Suren said.
What is one thing you would tell your fellow seniors?
“I would tell them to be humble, because I know that all of them will go on to do great things, but don’t let that negatively change how they interact with people,” Suren said.
What do you do outside of school hours?
“ I have been doing Taekwondo since I was 4 (I’m a probationary 4th degree black belt now), I’m also part of an Academic Bowl (quiz bowl) team for Pinellas county, and I co founded a college readiness club at our school,” Suren said.