Valedictorians and salutatorians attribute success to teachers


Valley Stream’s valedictorians and salutatorians represent some of the brightest and most involved students at their schools. They are involved in an array of clubs and hold leadership positions at their schools. Outside of school, they volunteer at hospitals, pools and mosques; tutor other students; perform music; and do research into subjects they are passionate about.

When asked what made them so successful at all of their activities, they all responded by singling out some of their teachers.

Arshia Iqbal, the North High School valedictorian, said that she is close with science teacher Santo Discalfani and English teacher Catherine Modzelweski. She said that they treated her normally despite her reputation as a good student, and that she liked their teaching style. “They teach you about life, and they’re great,” she said.

North High School Salutatorian Chloe Cossentino also listed several teachers that have had an affect on her including Spanish teacher Fabian Jara. “He’s

always been that extra push,” Cossentino said.

She also mentioned Social Studies teacher Joe Powers, who she said “focused on bigger ideas” before his history lessons, and her Advanced Placement United States History Teacher Joe Moniaci, who she said is “probably the most passionate teacher at my school.” Cossentino also said that the music department “is awesome,” but that she attributes her success to “intellectual curiosity.”

The Central High School students also spoke about teachers who inspired them during their time in high school. The valedictorian, Tasnova Osmani cited her biology teacher Patrick Tirino and her English teacher John Bruzzo for her success.

“They both pushed me to a new limit and they taught me that I can do things as long as I put the work in, and that it’s not just about getting good grades, it’s about understanding the material and what’s going on around you,” Osmani said.

The Central High School Salutatorian, Mutahira Bhatti, also cited Bruzzo as a teacher that inspired her, and cited mathematics teacher Christine Costa as someone who inspired her during her time at the school. “She taught me more than just math,” Bhatti said. “She really focused on being nice to other people and being kind, and so I always keep that with me.”

At South High School, valedictorian David Mantikas spoke about his calculus teacher Ross Lipsky. “He just basically taught me that staying motivated and being independent can take me a long way,” Mantikas said.

South salutatorian, Joseph Campbell, also said he was inspired by Lipsky and by his Spanish teacher Maritza Tuohy. He also echoed Mantikas’ lesson. “The main thing I would come out of high school with, is you need to take responsibility for yourself,” Campbell said.

The North and South High School graduations will be held on June 22 at 5:30 at their respective schools. The Central High School graduation will be held on June 30 at 3 p.m. at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale.