Hewlett High's top scholars: friendly competition, academic excellence


There was friendly competition between the top two academic seniors of the Hewlett High School class of 2024.

Valedictorian Simon Kupchik and salutatorian Ariel Vilensky, found support and encouragement in their scholastic pursuits as friends.

Kupchik will pursue a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree at Princeton University next fall.

His busy schedule, written out on his Google calendar, included many STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) classes, which were his favorite.

Kupchik was secretary and treasurer of the Debate Club, assistant and is currently head editor of the technology portion of the Hewlett High paper, the Spectrum and a member of Science Olympiad. The awards began in his first year of high school as he earned the bronze medal at a Science Olympiad competition.

During his junior year, Kupchik was given the Building Bridges Award by the state Assembly for community service and in his senior year, he won the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Scholar Award from York College for a paper he wrote. He also earned the Rock Hall History Museum U.S. History Award and Social Science Award for his participation in the social science research program at Hewlett High.

Kupchik is vice president of the Math Honor Society, president of the National Honor Society, secretary of the Science Honor Society and president of the foreign language honor society.

In early April, Kupchik was told he was the Class of 2024’s valedictorian. He had a 104.1 grade-point average.

“It was finally just sigh of relief,” Kupchik said, as he knew he was in the running.

Kupchik knew Vilensky was in the contention as well.

“Throughout our high school career, we had just been grinding against the grades, just to beat each other out, friendly competition, of course, because we would always support each other and help each other with any assignments,” Kupchik said.

Vilensky will study information science at Cornell University, next year.

Throughout high school, Vilensky also enjoyed STEM-centered academic opportunities.

He is the co-captain and lead programmer for the high school’s Innovo robotics team, president of both the Math Honor Society and Math Team and co-secretary of the Gardening Club.

He is also involved with the County Peer Diversion Court performing community service, teaching a Ukrainian student English through the ENGin organization, which connects Ukrainian and English-speaking students through video chats and doing climate advocacy.

Vilensky is a National Merit Scholarship finalist, which is a scholarship award program, presented by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a nonprofit that gives students funds based on a high PSAT score. Vilensky scored a 1,520.

Hewlett High Principal Alexandra Greenberg called Vilensky and his mother into her office to tell him the salutatorian news. He had a 103.6 GPA.

“I was extremely happy and somewhat surprised,” Vilensky wrote in an email. “My mom was overjoyed, and I am very glad we got to share that moment.”

Both Kupchik and Vilensky emphasized the importance of balance while navigating high school.

“There will be stressful classes and stressful times, and the best way to make the most of your experience will be to push yourself as much as you can, but without sacrificing the other activities you do outside of school, both extracurricular and personal,” Vilensky said.