Oceanside High School’s class of 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian are somewhat opposites.
One is a mathematics expert looking to work in computer science, while the other plans to specialize in the humanities and hopes to enter the field of art history. Topping their peers in raw GPA and achievement, Brett Weinger and Caroline Longo, both 17, couldn’t be further apart in their specialties, but together, they are the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Oceanside High School class of 2017.
Weinger said he wasn’t too surprised when the announcement came through. “I definitely worked hard enough,” he noted about the effort he put in to posting a weighted grade point average of 105.27.
He added that the key to his success was finding something to love in his class work. “I really do enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.
Longo, on the other hand, said she had no idea that she would achieve the second highest rank in her class, but noted that “learning for the sake of learning” is the philosophy that drives her. Although at first unaware of her exact 104.45 GPA, she has achieved much in her high school career. Most recently, she worked through the Italian Consulate and Olympic Committee to help raise more than $1,500 for victims of the earthquakes that struck central Italy earlier this year.
Interested in computer programming and artificial intelligence, Weinger created an algorithm for an online pirate video game he played in middle school. The code is designed to observe actions taken by the player and use that data to suggest what they could do next. He submitted the program to the game’s developers, and he said that they are currently working on implementing it.
Both students are fast talkers. “People say my mind works faster than my mouth,” Weinger noted. A math expert, he said he prefers objective solutions to questions, while Longo, who excels in English and history, is attracted to subjective and nuanced answers.
She is thinking of combining her love of art and the classics with chemistry. The reasoning, Longo said, is to work towards her dream of becoming a museum curator, where knowledge of chemistry is required to preserve artifacts and artwork, as well as analyze them for the techniques used in their creation.
Weinger is tentatively looking to study economics and computer science. Although still unsure of where he would like to go with it, he said he thinks he could apply his experience in developing artificial intelligence to economics.
Longo will be heading to the University of Chicago in the fall, and Weinger is enrolled at Stony Brook University. In keeping with her intellectual philosophy, Longo said she appreciated the freedom that her university provides in terms of combining interests, while Weinger looks forward to working within Stony Brook’s prestigious computer science division.
Although excited to dive into her major, Longo, half-jokingly acknowledged that it might not be for everyone: “They say it’s where fun goes to die.”