Longtime Friends Take Top Ranks in Class of 2024

Longtime Friends Take Top Ranks in Class of 2024

Since middle school, Maylani Lee and Catherine Ibrahim have found themselves in many classes together. The friendship they formed makes it all the more special that they are the top-ranked graduates in the Wantagh High School Class of 2024.

Maylani, with a grade point average of 107.838, is the valedictorian. Catherine’s 106.808 earned her salutatorian honors. They were thrilled when they were told the news by Principal Dr. Paul Guzzone, who presented them with letters to make it official.

“It feels great and I love that Catherine and I are doing this together,” Maylani said.

The pair have taken some of Wantagh High School’s most challenging courses, while also exploring their interests in electives and the arts. Maylani cites Advanced Placement art, biology, precalculus and United States history as her favorite classes, while Catherine has really enjoyed AP Physics and French, all of her art classes and playing the violin in orchestra. 

Additionally, they have made the most of student life, getting involved in numerous clubs. They are co-presidents of Science Olympiad and both were inducted in the National and Science honor societies. Maylani is co-president of the general organization and serves as one of two student liaisons at the monthly board of education meetings. She also is vice president of the Class of 2024, general chair of Model Congress and plays for the varsity tennis team.

Catherine is vice president of the orchestra board and social media manager for the National Art Honor Society. Outside of school, Catherine is involved with Kashafa, a youth community service organization at her church, which has allowed her to participate in numerous community service projects. She is also a second grade Sunday School teacher at her church.

“Wantagh High School gives us a lot of opportunities,” Catherine said. “There’s a bunch of clubs for anything you can think of.”

After high school, Maylani hopes to major in environmental studies with ambitions of becoming an environmental lawyer. This past summer, she completed an internship at the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, doing animal care, research on wildlife and social media management.

Catherine plans to major in architecture or civil engineering, and would love a job in which she can tour the globe. Not even a high school graduate yet, her travel log already includes Dubai, Egypt, London and Paris. 

Maylani got her start at Wantagh Elementary School, and in June she plans to graduate with an AP Capstone diploma and the Seal of Biliteracy in English and French. As a junior, she received the Harvard Book Award. Catherine attended Mandalay Elementary School and is a recipient of the Rensselaer Medal. They are both AP Scholars with Distinction and National Merit commended students. 

Dr. Guzzone said that Maylani and Catherine are not only very bright, but they work hard, and that’s what often makes the difference in becoming valedictorian and salutatorian. He noted that they entered high school under challenging circumstances with many pandemic restrictions in place, and not only did they persevere, they excelled.

“Maylani and Catherine embody that fine balance of intelligence and work ethic,” he said. “They have the drive to succeed and did not let obstacles stand in their way.”