- Seaford Union Free School District
Close Friends Top Seaford High School’s Class of 2021
With high school careers so closely mirroring each other, it was fitting for Julia Gambino and Kaylee Sanderson to earn the top two ranks in Seaford High School’s Class of 2021. Julia topped the class with a grade point average of 107.45 to be named valedictorian, and Kaylee’s GPA of 106.53 earned her the rank of salutatorian.
“It was a very exciting and happy moment,” Julia said of an early morning meeting with her guidance counselor, Suzanne Cosenza, who was joined by Principal Scott Bersin and Assistant Principals Jennifer Bisulca and Nicole Schnabel to tell her the good news. “It’s nice to know how all of my hard work from the last four years has been validated.”
Julia immediately did a FaceTime call with her mother, and Kaylee promptly called her father after hearing her news from guidance counselor Jennifer Pimentel.
“It was very rewarding,” Kaylee said, adding that finishing in the top two was not guaranteed because there are several seniors with very high GPAs.
Julia began her educational journey at Manor Elementary School while Kaylee was a Harbor student. They had a few classes together in sixth grade at Seaford Middle School, and by the time they reached high school, they were close friends.
“We’re really good at motivating each other,” Kaylee said.
They took many of the same classes – 12 Advanced Placement courses for Julia and 11 for Kaylee – and were in the same clubs. Both were part of Best Buddies, Freshman Mentors, Key Club, Model Congress, the National Honor Society, World Culture Club and Yearbook. Outside of school, both are dancers, and Julia is a Girl Scout.
Julia, the associate general chair of Model Congress, said that has been one of her favorite high school experiences. Last year, Seaford hosted a Model Congress event in which high school students from Long Island, New York City and Westchester came together to discuss current issues.
Kaylee is president of the World Culture Club and has enjoyed her Spanish classes because she finds it rewarding to learn another language and appreciate other cultures.
Both students have made an impact in the science research program. As sophomores, they worked together on a research project about the antibacterial abilities of seaweed in south shore water bodies. This year they partnered up again for a virtual internship with a professor at Arizona State University, creating risk assessment models to study preventative measures that could be used to prevent disease.
During junior year, they completed independent science research projects that have since earned recognition. Kaylee’s research on microplastics in sand along the south shore was published in Harvard University’s Journal of Emerging Investigators. Julia’s study on how different types of bacteria affect plant growth was accepted for a future issue.
As they begin their college searches, both plan to go away for school. Julia is looking at colleges from Michigan to Boston to North Carolina to study biology. Her goal is to find a career where she can “help people on a larger scale in public health.” Kaylee is also considering schools up and down the east coast. While she is undecided on her expected major, she said it will likely be related to math along with a minor in Spanish.
Valedictorian and salutatorian is just another accolade for the seniors. Julia was named a Commended student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program and is an AP Scholar. Kaylee is an AP Scholar with Distinction. Both will also earn the Advanced Placement Capstone diploma at graduation because of their success in AP courses.
Rounding out the Top 25 for the Class of 2021 are Joseph Abbate, Madison Ahern, Sophia Boulukos, Dominique Cannata, Cody Cole, Julianne Crawford, Emma Ettinger, Karolena Katsigiorgis, Sarah Keane, Shan LaGrassa, Chelsea Lin, Melissa Lochner, Samantha Lukaszewski, Mary Lynch, Sydney Mantione, Marissa McCandless, Marissa Mele, Colin Merrigan, Mary Pecoraro, Mali Pedone, Ashley Sidoti, Kathleen Tuohy and Amanda Williams.