Aashini Shah to Graduate as W.T Clarke’s Class of 2018 Valedictorian


Aashini Shah will be making the transformation from her class of only 185 students to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for either chemical engineering or brain and cognitive sciences.

Shah has a busy schedule. Along with her classes, she participates in a multitude of extracurricular activities, such as bowling, badminton, tennis, orchestra and the business club DECA. In college, Shah hopes to start an American Sign Language Club, a language she has learned at school. In fact, when asked what advice she would give to incoming freshman, Shah said that they should get involved.

“Academics will take care of themselves, but do try extracurriculars,” Shah said. “We have a lot. It’s a pretty good school. It’s a pretty well funded school, so it’s important to take advantage of it.”

Throughout the years, Shah’s family, who are academically oriented, has supported her studies. Shah’s father Samir said that his family’s emphasis on academics comes from his father, who sacrificed for his brothers and sisters education.

“I migrated from India, keeping in mind that my kids will have the best education that they can and I will make sure she will get it,” Samir said.

Shah said she will miss her family and the solid support system they have provided her with, along with her dog Millie.

Outside of school, Shah has taken on even more activities. Shah tutors fellow students for the SAT and other subjects and was also a member of the Teen Advisory Board.

Shah also helps her friends. “She’s been the kind of person I know I can count on for helpless schoolwork without judgement as well as just the kind of person I feel easy to talk to about personal problems,” said Arsh Kahn, a friend of Shah.

To unwind, Shah enjoys cooking where she is faced with the challenge of making delicious meals within her dietary restrictions established by her Jainist faith.

“Cooking has always been a fun challenge for me and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the chemistry behind, like, what’s the difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar,” Shah said.

Along with her interest in cooking, Shah enjoys going to laboratories over the summer where she learns about projects and conducts her own research, which she presents to competitions.

“It was remarkable to see Aashini’s growth, as a young female scientist, throughout the past three years in Research class,” Erika Rotolo, Shah’s science teacher, said. “Each year, her research project became more involved and more impressive, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to watch her grow.”

Shah believes she learned more than just what was taught in class in her four years of high school. Because W.T. Clarke is a small school, Shah said she has learned about people.

“There’s no way to escape talking to everyone,” Shah said. “That really shows you how different types of people can perceive you and how to compose yourself in society.”

Soon, Shah will be heading to prom along with all the friends she has made over the years wearing a dress bought from India by her father. “I am proud of Ashini for anything and every single thing and any decision she has made so far,” Samir said. “I am so proud of her. Even words can't describe this.”

Pantho Sayed to Graduate as W.T Clarke’s Salutatorian

After four years of hard work and involvement through countless extracurricular activities, Pantho Sayed is getting ready for the next chapter of his life: college.

Sayed will be attending Fordham University in the Bronx for political science. “I can quote him,” His father Md Sayed said. “He says, ‘it is not only your intelligence that makes you successful in academics, but also your constant trying’.”

Outside of academics, Sayed enjoyed participating in the business club DECA, Mock Trial, Jazz Band, Track and multiple honor societies.

Joseph Pavia, the business teacher and DECA advisor for W.T. Clarke, summarized Sayed as a student who balances academics and social life meanwhile maintaining a humble attitude.

“Pantho is really the most well balanced student that has come out of this school in a long time,” Pavia said of Sayed. Sayed is also involved in the East Meadow community and, in his free time, he volunteers and is involved at the local Mosque in East Meadow.

“Whenever I have an achievement, that community has always been proud of me, proud of all the other kids my age, proud of everyone going to college,” Sayed said. “It’s like a good support network, not only for religious activities but also other charitable activities.”

To unwind, Sayed enjoys reading comic books and playing video games. In fact, Sayed derived inspiration for his “promposal” from the most recent Avengers. Reflecting on his growth throughout his four years in high school, Sayed has seen himself become more social.

When asked what advice he would give incoming freshman, he recommended not taking on too much. “It’s better to be a master of one thing than to not spread yourself too thin,” Sayed said. “Work hard.”