Valedictorian Mancuso and Salutatorian Hilden: Two True Intellectuals

With 57 students with GPAs 95 and up and 6 students at 98 and up, the MHS Class of 2018 has an exceptional number of deserving graduates. But at the very top stand Rebecca Mancuso, this year’s valedictorian, and David Hilden, this year’s salutatorian. Each one has rounded off their MHS career with an outstanding academic record, an impressive lineup of extracurricular accomplishments, and a remarkable spirit of humility towards their peers.

Rebecca Mancuso lives in White Plains but was able to go to school in the district because her mother is a teacher at Chatsworth, where Mancuso went to elementary school. Her sister, Emily Mancuso, was salutatorian in 2013.

This year Mancuso was the co-president of the Chinese Club and the Quiz Bowl Club. She is also a lifelong Girl Scout. She took PACE for all of high school and played the viola in the the local St. Thomas Orchestra and the MHS Chamber Orchestra. For her senior internship she helped Ms. Rosen teach orchestra at Murray. Next year she will attend Temple University to study music education, and she intends to become a music teacher.

Mancuso’s APs this year were Physics C, BC Calculus, Literature, and European History, and last year she took AP U.S. History and Physics 1. She engages deeply in all her classes and does not lean towards any single academic area. “I find myself very interested in the topics that I am studying,” she told the Globe. Mancuso says that although she tries not to, she ends up spending most of her time studying so that she can feel she has mastered the material for every test. “She sits in the front of the room and she’s always on top of it, always answering all the questions, always helping her classmates,” said Ms. Valdez, the BC Calculus teacher. Valdez added, “I think she got a hundred on just about every test.”

David Hilden was a member of the Quiz Bowl Club and Model Congress. This year he made crossword puzzles for the Globe and started the Crossword Club. For his senior internship he built houses at Habitat for Humanity along with around 30 other MHS students. Hilden took OSR for four years and studied the effect of a microRNA cluster on the skin of mice. He worked on his project at the breast cancer lab of Mount Sinai the last two summers and eventually won the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award and placed 2nd in Medicine and Health at the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair. He will be a pre-med at Johns Hopkins next year and then plans to go to medical school and become a doctor, possibly in an emergency room.

This year Hilden’s APs were Literature, Biology, BC Calculus, and Government, and last year they were Physics 1 and Language and Composition. He told the Globe, “I think it’s important to do your best and to not take grades too seriously because in the long term you’re not going to remember the test, you’re going to remember the material that you learned.” He explained that whether he gets a 96 or a 99 “I’m going to know either way that I learned the material.” At home, Hilden does not spend most of his time on schoolwork and instead likes to go running, see friends, and watch classic movies. He reads books in great volume, such as a play by Anton Chekhov he read recently, and it seems he doesn’t forget much. “David just kind of knows everything,” said Ms. Valdez, “Even when we did trivia games he knew so many random facts.” But despite his focus on just absorbing as much as he can, Hilden has still kept his GPA uniformly high throughout high school. Mr. Liberti, who teaches AP Gov, called him “exceptionally bright and hard-working.” Ms. O’Reilly, his AP Bio teacher, said, “When I was grading tests I could always scan David’s first to see if I made any mistakes on the scantron. That’s extremely unusual for AP Bio.”

Both Mancuso and Hilden are very unassuming despite their talent and achievements. Ms. O’Reilly commented of Hilden that “You would never know from his mannerisms that he’s one of the brightest students in the class,” and Mr. Liberti corroborated that “He’s also very humble, very approachable.” “They’re both all-around good kids,” Ms. Valdez said.

By James Anderson

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