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Valedictorian, Salutatorian reflect on High School Years


With graduation less than a week away, it is safe to say that Nicole Williams and Genna Handel have made the most of their time as Eagles.

Over the last four years, Williams and Handel have excelled in the classroom, earning Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors, respectively. But for all of their accomplishments, both students were quick to credit their teachers, parents and community members with helping them to succeed.  

According to both Williams and Handel, their high school years were defined not only by the myriad of academic opportunities afforded to all students, but also by a supportive, nurturing culture that encourages each individual to forge their own path. 

“The best way that Eastchester has helped me to succeed is that it has opportunities for everyone,” said Williams. “If you’re an artistic student, there are so many art classes you take, but you also have science classes, science clubs and other extra-curricular activities; everyone has a place where they can succeed here.”

Handel believes that younger students, especially those entering the high school as ninth graders next year, would be wise to have an open mind and step outside of their comfort zones in order better develop their own strengths and passions.

“You need to dip your feet into any subject you might be slightly interested in because you never know what path that might take you on,” said Handel. “I took a wide breadth of classes and those classes have helped me explore my many interests. Knowing that you don’t just have to choose one thing could be really great.” 

Like many of their peers, Williams and Handel are unsure what the future holds, but they are confident that their time at Eastchester High School—and the bonds they’ve forged with their classmates—has given them the tools to face any challenge creatively, analytically and with a healthy perspective. 

“I think school in general is a microcosm of the world,” said Handel. We all work together for a certain goal and we’re all working together to succeed.”

“I also have to thank my friends for being my tether to reality,” added Williams with a laugh. “Sometimes I’ll get way too invested in schoolwork and they’ll tell me ‘You need to come out and see the sunlight!’”