W.T. Clarke students earn national honor


Two seniors at W.T. Clarke High School in East Meadow were recognized as one of 15,000 finalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Aashini Shah and Pantho Sayed earned the honor after submitting a detailed scholarship application that touted their strong academic record, participation in extracurricular activities and community engagement, leadership ability, employment, and a record of honors and awards. They also had an SAT score equivalent to their PSAT score, maintained prestigious academic performance and received a recommendation from a W.T. Clarke official.

The seniors will be notified this spring as to whether they are among the 7,500 students who have been selected to receive awards and scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments.

As valedictorian of the Class of 2018, Shah balances a rigorous schedule of Advanced Placement and college-level courses while immersing herself in an assortment of extracurricular activities, athletics and community involvement.

With a passion for science, she conducted research on the chemical compound trifluoromethyl at Stony Brook University. Her research earned her second place at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and advancement to the second round of the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.

Shah is a member of numerous honor societies, including National, History, Mathematics, Science, English, Spanish and Tri-M Music, for which she serves as secretary. She holds leadership positions as president of the Multicultural Club and Science Olympiads, co-director of the role committee for the business club DECA, and editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Vanguard. She also plays violin in the school’s pit orchestra and performs at local nursing homes as a violist with the Clarke Cabaret. Athletically, she is captain of the bowling and badminton teams and plays on the varsity tennis team.

Outside of school, Shah tutors middle school students and serves on the teen advisory board at the East Meadow Public Library. She plans to major in chemical engineering in college this fall.

“It was exciting to find out I was named a finalist,” Shah said. “This distinction is a rewarding reflection of my hard work and an opportunity to earn a scholarship for college.”

Earning the distinction of Clarke’s salutatorian, Pantho Sayed is a well-rounded student enrolled in a variety of Advanced Placement and college-level courses and actively involved in the high school and community. Among his school involvement, he is vice president of the National and French honor societies and a member of the Mathematics, Science and English honor societies. He is also co-vice president of DECA, a lawyer for the school’s mock trial team, a member of the school’s Red Cross Club and a saxophonist in the jazz ensemble.

Within the community, Sayed volunteers at Nassau University Medical Center, where he assists in labs, performs administrative duties and stocks nursing stations. He also aids teachers and organizes programs at the Long Island Muslim Society mosque in East Meadow. Sayed aspires to be a lawyer and plans to study political science in college.

“It was a little overwhelming hearing I was a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d advance, and it’s an honor to be one of the selected few to receive this opportunity.”

—Brian Stieglitz