High schools name the valedictorian and salutatorian — the two students with the highest GPA’s — each year, but for Malverne High School, this year’s top scholars are even more remarkable that usual.
Sabrina Ramharakh and Raymond Cecere last week were named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Malverne High School Class of 2023.
Principal Vincent Romano said Ramharakh and Cecere have already made Malverne a better place to live through civic projects.
“The vals and sals in all schools are great kids, but these two really stand out,” Malverne Principal Vincent Romano said. “They represent all that’s right with our kids today, inside and outside of the classroom.”
Ramharakh spearheaded the effort to change the name of a Malverne street that honored a former Ku Klux Klan member to Acorn Way, a shout-out to the village’s motto “Oak Trees From Acorns”.
Cecere earned the rank of Eagle Scout by raising money and building a community garden for the high school’s expansion wing.
“Civic engagement is so important,” Romano said, “and they have made a positive difference in our community. They make me look good to be principal.”
Ramharakh was named AP Scholar with Distinction, and earned an AP Capstone Diploma. Ramharakh’s other achievements include a Special Service Award, NAACP Award for Leadership and Community Advocacy, and the Excellence Award in Civil Engineering and Architecture from Project Lead The Way.
Ramharakh has been a leader throughout her high school career. She was president of the student government and treasurer of National Honor Society. She is a member of multiple clubs, including Advocate for Animals Club and two robotics clubs.
Ramharakh was a scholar-athlete for four years on the soccer and lacrosse as well as the varsity girls’ soccer coach’s award and Nassau County Girls Soccer Coaches Association scholar-athlete.
“It’s a juggling act,” Ramharakh said of her myriad activities. “I’ve been working toward this, not necessarily valedictorian, but to be the best student I can be inside and outside of the classroom.”
Cecere is the first Malverne student to be recognized as a College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholar and Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar. He received the National AP Scholar Award and AP Capstone Diploma.
Cecere successfully completed college-level coursework as part of Business Bootcamp at the New York Institute of Technology and Project Lead The Way’s STEM program at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Cecere was president of the FIRST Robotics Club, vice president of National Honor Society, and treasurer of the Service Learning Club.
He also volunteered more than 500 hours in the community, including an internship with former Assemblywoman Judy Griffin. As captain of varsity tennis team, Cecere was awarded “Unsung Hero” in 2021 and 2022.
“In my head I map out what I have to get done and take it one day at a time,” said Cecere, whose brother, Jack, was the Malverne Class of 2019 salutatorian. “It’s satisfying to keep this in the family.”
School counselor Nicole Beauford said Ramharakh was a leader from the moment she entered the high school. “She was an amazing student from the time she walked through the door,” Beauford said. “She never wavered, never said ‘no’ to a challenge.”
School counselor Peter Gersbeck said Cecere was driven to excel since his freshman year. “What you can’t see on the transcript is his character,” Gersbeck said. “It is rare to meet a student so mature, goal-oriented and positive. He is going to get things done, not for the accolades but to set himself up for success.”
Aside from being the top two Malverne High School students in the Class of 2023, Ramharakh and Cecere share membership in the prestigious Pride of Malverne Marching Band. Both students credited starting in the band as eighth graders for establishing habits that led to their success.
“When I came in as a freshman, I got overwhelmed being the youngest and smallest,” Ramharakh said. “It took me a minute to adjust. Marching band certainly helped.”
For Cecere, the marching band also provided early structure. “It really helped a lot with that transition to high school,” Cecere said. “I got close with some of the seniors and made a lot of friends.”
Both Ramharakh and Cecere offered advice to next year’s freshmen hoping to emulate their achievements.
“Strive to find a balance,” Ramharakh said. “Make your parents happy by being a good student, but also make sure you’re happy. Throw yourself into activities and push yourself to your limits because it grows your character.”
“Balance your time and you can do great things,” Cecere said. “Take every opportunity you get, because you don’t know what they will bring you down the road.”
Ramharakh is considering the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northeastern University. Cecere is considering the University of Southern California and the U.S. Naval Academy. Both are also awaiting decisions from several Ivy League universities.