Meet North Shore High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian

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As graduation nears, North Shore’s seniors are savoring their last days of high school, but none more so than this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, whose academic prowess and endeavors in extracurriculars placed them at the top of their class. The Class of 2019’s valedictorian, James Campbell, and salutatorian, Hanah Leventhal, had a moment to chat with the Herald Gazette amidst final exams, finishing projects and prom preparations to recall the past four years before accepting their diplomas.

Valedictorian James Campbell

Herald Gazette: What was your reaction to being named valedictorian?

James Campbell: I’ve always done well academically so I wasn’t all that surprised to end up at the top of my class. Nevertheless, I think this title is a cool little accolade and I’m excited to have achieved it. It feels good when your hard work pays off.

Herald Gazette: Could you briefly describe your experience at North Shore?

Campbell: Over the years, I’ve really gotten a taste of what North Shore has to offer, and I’ve benefited immensely as a result. My interests have changed countless times, whether it be socially, athletically, musically or intellectually, and my activities have spanned from the math team to the basketball team and everything in between. My time at North Shore has been one of growth and maturation, and I’m happy that I’ve come to where I am now.

Herald Gazette: What was your favorite memory from high school?

Campbell: When I went on a field trip with my Theory of Knowledge class to Bear Mountain. The trip was sort of this spontaneous thing and originated from a whimsical idea of our teacher. It turned out to be a fun time discussing philosophy and exploring nature, the two of which went hand in hand. It definitely had a substantial influence on me, including my decision to study at Cornell.

Herald Gazette: What will you include in your graduation speech?

Campbell: Even though everyone will be going their separate ways, the one thing that will unite us will be our time at North Shore. So in reflecting on high school, I want to capture what is distinctive about this place. In addition, I will try to give a bit of life advice. I think one message that would most improve the lives of people is that we should all strive to be more conscious. I hope I can prompt people to think more, and in doing so leave a palpable impact in the community.

Herald Gazette: What will you miss the most from your time at North Shore?

Campbell: One of my more unique experiences here was my time playing in the high school band. Mr. Soto is one of those teachers who you are lucky to encounter and I appreciate how he is able to inspire, challenge and make you laugh simultaneously. While I am still unsure whether I will continue my musical endeavors in the future, I am convinced that I won’t find an environment quite like the North Shore band, which I will surely miss.

Herald Gazette: What are your anticipations for college?

Campbell: For a while now, I’ve been extremely eager to start college. The greater flexibility and freedom are things that I would so enjoy. I hope to use my independence to optimize my productivity and my extra free time to explore my interests. I really see these next four years as an enormous opportunity to learn as much as possible.

Salutatorian Hanah Leventhal

Herald Gazette: What was your reaction to being named salutatorian?

Hanah Leventhal: At first, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe the exciting news, but as it began to sink in I felt a great sense of pride in having received this title.

Herald Gazette: Could you briefly describe your experience at North Shore?

Leventhal: From the beginning I was thrust into a string of incredible experiences that I will never forget. I have been to countless museums and various states and countries. North Shore truly extends beyond the four walls of the classroom. It is the availability of these types of opportunities that really defined my experience at North Shore. Everything I was able to do enriched my life and helped me develop as a human being.

Herald Gazette: What was your favorite memory from high school?

Leventhal: Going to Cuba in 2016 for the music tour at the same time as President Obama and the Pope. After one of our concerts, when the audience and the performers were able to interact, two girls came up to a small group of us. I remember being excited to try and utilize what I learned in Spanish class to talk to them. The conversation ended with all of us joining in an impromptu jam session where we sang songs that we all knew and loved. This interaction between students of differing languages and cultures that came together through a love and passion for music was incredible.

Herald Gazette: What will you include in your graduation speech?

Leventhal: I think the job of a graduation speech is to make connections, and I hope to say something that will honor this concept. Reflecting affectionately on our experiences, I want to show an appreciation for all that has been done to help us succeed and share some inspiring words for our future.

Herald Gazette: What will you miss the most from your time at North Shore?

Leventhal: I will truly miss the warm and nurturing environment, the kind and generous teachers I have had and the close friends that I have made over the past 13 years.

Herald Gazette: What are your anticipations for college?

Leventhal: I will be entering college with an open mind. I know four years will go by very quickly, but there is so much to explore and discover about college and myself. Making the most of my experience is the main priority because it is less about what college makes of you and more about what you make of yourself. With that in mind, I am sure that I will figure out the best path for who I am and set myself up for a wonderful future doing something that I love.