Allentown School District valedictorians look back at their remote senior year

Written by on June 21, 2021

Allentown School District valedictorians look back at their remote senior year

By Chloe Nouvelle

June 21, 2021

Photo by Pixabay.

The Allentown School District has three valedictorians, one for each of its high schools. Graduation is the final chapter in their K-through-12 careers interrupted by a pandemic.

Listen to the story.

But despite the obstacles that come along with remote learning for an entire school year, three seniors stayed on course and achieved top honors.

“I’m very glad to say that we made it,” Ismaily Gil Pena said while delivering her valedictory address to classmates at Building 21 High School.  

While she spent her senior year working remotely, she says there were still a lot of good moments. 

“I have personal connections with the teachers and they were able to help me out and make me feel important in the class. Just like a student that matters,” Gil Pena says. 

Thomas Chakif, Dieruff High School’s valedictorian, gives credit to teachers too. He says they worked hard to move school online this year and that reaffirmed his dedication.

But what he remembers as highlights this year center on seeing his classmates.

“I think my highs definitely were whenever we were able to do a school-sponsored event. Like a couple of weeks ago, we had a senior carnival kind of thing for Dieruff, which was really exciting because it had the school spirit again,” Chakif says. 

He’ll be bringing that school spirit to Lehigh University this fall. 

Yadiel Aponte Rosado is the 2021 William Allen High School valedictorian. And while he’s off to study physics at East Stroudsburg University this fall, he’s leaving incoming freshmen with this piece of advice.

“Socialize and be more involved with the school. Like if you stay in your comfort zone, you’re not gonna learn more about the school and people around you. So, you’re going to feel more isolated from the rest of the world,” he says. 

As for what’s next for Gil Pena, the first valedictorian we heard from, she says she already has her associates degree, so she’ll be taking a gap year.

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