North High School’s top graduates say they would not be where they are without each other. A friendly academic rivalry developed over the years, and, when the dust settled, Jeanette Freeman, of Malverne, became the valedictorian of the class of 2014.
Just three-tenths of a point behind was Michael Sanky. He matched the feat achieved by his older brother, Charles, two years ago. Sanky said he, Freeman and others who ranked near the top of the class pushed each other to do their best.
Freeman and Sanky found out in early February that they would be this year’s top two graduates at North. “I was thrilled,” Freeman said of being valedictorian. “It was always the goal, from seventh grade.”
“I’ve always been focusing on doing my personal best,” Sanky said.
In the fall, Freeman will head to the University of Pennsylvania, where she plans to study biology on a pre-med track. The Malverne native said she wants to have a career in pediatrics.
Freeman said that after staying on campus as part of an accepted-students program known as Quaker Day, she knew the UPenn was right for her. “I loved the people there,” she said. “I could see myself learning and thriving there for the next four years.”
Sanky, of Valley Stream, will attend Harvard, where he hopes to study mathematics and biomedical engineering. He is considering a career in genetic engineering, and would like to help improve the medicine available in smaller communities.
He said he chose Harvard because of the small class sizes and the research opportunities available in the Boston area.
Both Freeman and Sanky have prepared themselves for college through rigorous course loads. Freeman took 15 Advanced Placement courses, and Sanky enrolled in 16.
“I definitely wanted to take the hardest classes I could to push myself,” Freeman said. “Having taken so many, I think I’m prepared for whatever Penn can throw at me.” She cited biology and music theory among her favorite A.P. courses.