At the monthly Board of Education meeting on May 10, Baldwin High School Principal Neil Testa presented the top students who will be graduating the high school in June.
Rachel Lyons and Andrew Jean-Charles were announced as valedictorian and salutatorian respectively. Both students enrolled in AP classes and extra curricular courses in high school. As the school year comes to an end, their educational endeavors has just begun.
During a presentation at the board of education meeting, Testa announced that Charles will be attending Yale University to study Cognitive Science and Music. He is currently pursing Baldwin High School’s most rigorous course load and will receive the AP Capstone Diploma as well as a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Honors in June. Studying in the STEM and engineering field has rewarded Charles with several accolades.
“He is in all our honor societies, has earned awards from Brown, Rensselaer, MIT, and NYU,” Testa said about Charles. “He is a national medalist in French, an African American, Hispanic Recognition recipient, All County and All-state in Vocals, MVP in Track and All Division and All County, and a national track qualifier.”
According to Testa, Charles has an eagerness to learn, which was reflected on the amount of volunteer work that he participates in. Such clubs and groups include the Key Club, Make-A-Wish, Mathletes, Science Olympiad, Principals Leadership Group, and Athletes Helping Athletes. Testa said that Charles’ most fulfilling activity that he is part of is the concert choir.
“As President, he is frequently required to run the classroom, lessons, and sectionals,” Testa said about Charles running the concert choir. “He spends his off periods coordinating music, finances, and planning their performances. He leads vocal ensembles including Chamber Singers, Barbershop, and Soul Definition.”
Testa said that Charles is a role model to younger and less experienced students. Charles is someone that people can go to for tips and advice.
“Andrew has a genuine nature, carries himself with poise, and obviously cares for the success of everyone in the groups that he participates in,” Testa said.
Valedictorian Rachel Lyons will be leaving a big impact on Baldwin High School, just as Charles will, as she leaves the states to study abroad in France next year. She will be majoring in Political Humanities at Sciences Po as well as History at Columbia University. Testa described Lyons as the “perfect student” as she is very mature, ambitious, and has a strong work ethic.
“Rachel has always pushed herself academically, taking a full course load of AP and Honors classes, and even taking AP Chinese and AP Music Theory independently,” Testa said. “She is in all our honor societies and is an AP Scholar with Distinction who will earn her AP Capstone Diploma next month.”
Along with her strong work ethic, Lyons has tremendous musical talent. She is a classically trained piano player and is a student at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College. By the seventh grade, Lyons was ranked number 13 as best piano player in New York at the All-State Piano Showcase.
“Here at Baldwin High School, she is a member of the Pit Orchestra for our musical productions, Show Choir, and Jazz Band, and is also a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society,” Testa said. “She also performed at Carnegie Hall’s Veterans Day Celebration. Rachel is also very active in her student body.”
Testa said that Lyons is the type of student that makes it easy to be a principal. This is due to her combination of intellect, passion, leadership, motivation, and commitment.